Hiring? Here’s 50 Recruiting Terms You Need To Know

When you’re new to hiring, some of the terms may be confusing. We’ve put together a glossary of the most important definitions you’ll need to speed on today’s recruiting vocabulary. 

1. Job seeker – any individual looking at job opportunities, with minimal to significant interest in actually applying and accepting a new role.

2. Active job seeker – an individual very interested in finding a new job opportunity. May or may not be currently unemployed but is motivated to fill out applications and take interviews.

3. Passive job seeker – an individual who is less interested in finding a new job immediately. They may be employed and just looking at job opportunities to ‘get a sense of what is out there.’

4. Talent pool – a collection of qualified individuals that have been sourced for current or future recruitment needs.

5. Top talent – the most qualified and sought after people in an industry or role. These individuals are highly talented and great at what they do. The primary goal of a recruitment strategy should be to attract as many of these people as you can.

6. Candidates – job seekers who have successfully applied for a job and meet the qualifications to proceed to pre-screening.

7. Collaborative hiring – a strategic approach to recruitment and selection where several employees (and sometimes recruiters) participate and give input. Collaborative hiring is part of a successful hiring strategy. Learn how you can create a Strategic Recruiting process.

8. Hiring team – the collection of employees chosen to give feedback on candidates and participate in pre-determined stages of the selection process. Could be a combination of hiring managers, direct managers, recruiters, or other employees. Who makes up the hiring team can vary or depend entirely on the role to be filled.

9. Recruitment agency – an outside organization that may be enlisted to help source qualified candidates for an essential or difficult-to-fill role.

10. Recruiter – a professional that works inside an organization or externally (through a recruitment agency or as an independent) to source candidates.

11. Candidate sourcing – the process of attracting candidates to a job posting and enticing them applying into the talent pool.

12. Candidate selection – selecting the best candidate to make an offer to. This entire process includes pre-screening, interviewing, deliberation, and other checks or assessments.

13. Hiring pipeline – the steps that move a candidate from application to offer. The steps of a hiring pipeline depend on the practices of the hiring team Ex: How many interview rounds are involved.

14. Strategic hiring – any approach to hiring that considers business goals, recruitment or industry trends, and recruitment analytics when making smart job promotion and hiring decisions. All hiring tactics must come with a recruitment strategy in mind.

15. Job description – an internal document that outlines a role and the qualifications, skills, and competencies necessary. A great job description also includes employment specifics such as location, department, working conditions and environmental factors, and a NOC code. Though often used interchangeably, a job description is not the same as a job posting.

16. Job posting or job ad – An outline of an open job opportunity that is promoted to attract candidates.  Includes information about the company, role, and requirements. It should be engaging but realistic.

17. Qualifications – the requirements for a role. Typically includes education, years of experience, certifications, language requirements, skills, etc.

18. Core Skills – the necessary skills a candidate needs to have to do the job successfully. Less formal than qualifications, core skills may include items like teamwork, public speaking, and writing.

19. Cover Letter – a professional letter written by the job seeker to express their interest in a job opportunity and express why they are the best fit. Some organizations require cover letters, but others do not, depending on their selection requirements.

20. Resume – formal document created by the job seeker that is used to present a summary of their career. Resumes should list contact info, education, skills, and employment history. Some job seekers also include volunteerism, references, or portfolio items.

21. Job promotion – a recruitment tactic for sourcing candidates to job postings by promoting them like ‘ads’ on websites, social media, and possibly other channels.

22. Job board – a website or page of a website for job seekers, where employers and recruiters promote job postings.

23. Job Board Aggregator – a website that scrapes the web (namely, other job boards) for job postings and then draws upon that compiled list of jobs for its search results, targeted at job seekers.

24. Popular job boards – most well-known job boards where employers promote jobs across industries and locations. Monster and Indeed are popular job boards in North America.

25. Niche job boards – a website where jobs are posted specifically to an industry, location, or type of job. Often run by associations or regulatory bodies. Sometimes found in online communities, such as Dribbble (a design community website).

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26. Recruitment marketing – applying a marketing approach to candidate attraction. This strategy involves “selling the company” by thinking hard about the employer value proposition and ideal candidate persona.

27. Social recruiting – a job promotion method where jobs are shared on social media to attract more job seekers, either as scheduled messages or paid advertising campaigns. This strategy is especially effective for recruiting millennials.

28. Candidate experience – the process a job seeker undergoes to apply for a job posting, and how they feel about it. Job seekers often despise lengthy job applications, especially if they have little support and get no response at all. Learn how you can improve candidate experience.

29. Company culture – the sum of the attitudes, personality, environment, and goals of a company. Every company culture is somewhat unique, and whether planned or not, it reflects the values and leadership at the top. It’s important to build company culture intentionally, not reactively. Company culture can be a significant “selling point” of a job posting.

30. Culture fit – identifying candidates that not only have the skills and qualifications for the role but also share company values and would enjoy working in the team and work environment.

31. Employee turnover – the number of employees leaving an organization that must be replaced. Understanding the reasons for turnover can help hiring managers to take action, starting with recruitment. Realistic job postings and more thorough selection process may help to reduce employee turnover.

32. Applicant Tracking System (ATS) – recruitment software used to organize the hiring process. Candidates are directed to apply online, and applicants are compiled and scored on the employer’s account. An ATS helps manage the hiring pipeline and keep track of candidates, hiring team feedback, and recruitment analytics.

33. Recruiting metrics – key formulas to measure and understand the value of recruitment efforts. Learn More

34. ROI – the return on investment on a decision, practice or expense. What was the result and what is the value? For recruiting, ROI may measure job board spend or promotion strategies, the value of using a recruitment agency, results of a specialized recruitment marketing campaign, and so much more.

35. Phone interview – typically the first interview conducted with the candidate, which involves a brief round of questions to ensure they qualify for the role. Phone interviews help to determine whether the candidate will be moved to the next round of interviews.

36. Pre-screening questions – pre-screening questions help to save time and resources by narrowing down the prospect list to the most qualified candidates. These questions can be asked in the application process and/or verified through the phone interview. Ex: “Do you have a driver’s license?” or, “Do you have a CPA designation”?

Want to ask candidates pre-screening questions right in their application? Find out how

37. Panel interview – an in-person or video interview with two or more interviewers. Sometimes several job seekers participate in the same interview, depending on the situation.

38. Introduction questions – used to start the interview and help the candidate feel comfortable. Typically open-ended questions such as, “Tell me more about you” and, “Why do you think you’d be a good fit for this job”?

39. Behavioural questions – give interviewers an opportunity to ask the candidate more about their past work experience and what they’ve learned from it. Ex: “Tell me about a time when you…”

40. Situational questions – questions that help determine how the candidate thinks through and responds to hypothetical scenarios they could face in the role you’re looking to fill. It’s a chance to see how they draw from their experience, as well as, plan out how to react to challenges. Ex: “What is the first thing you would you do when dealing with a frustrated customer’s complaint?”

41. Culture fit questions – interview questions that aim to get insights from the candidate about their personality, ideal work environment, and the work style. See #30 “Culture fit.”

42. Role-specific questions – interview questions that are directly related to the role the candidate wants to fill. For example, if you’re hiring an accountant, you may want to ask about reporting software and gauge their understanding of accounting terminology.

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43. Illegal questions – questions that pertain to protect grounds according to Human Rights and employment legislation. These involve asking about items like race, religion, sexual orientation, political views, etc. Remember: It is also illegal to ask about an applicant’s’ family or family planning. Reference the Employment Equity Act HERE.

44. Unconscious bias – a prejudice towards or against a thing, person, or group that an individual holds to be true but may not be aware of this thinking and how it influences our decisions. Unconscious bias can affect hiring, so it’s important to be aware of and use group hiring to minimize its’ impact on the selection process.

45. Interview scorecard – a customized scoring tool some hiring teams use to measure candidates’ interview responses against key criteria. Usually designed in-house by the hiring team. An interview scorecard can help to reduce bias and standardize the hiring process.

Learn more: All the advice you need to manage your unconscious bias

46. Reference check – a due-diligence process in which the hiring manager will call and interview references to glean further insights into the candidate’s behaviour and employment history. It’s best to ask for 3-5 professional references that include a mix of past managers and colleagues.

47. Background check – a candidate screening practice often completed for positions of high security or trust (Ex: roles in banking or a school system). Background checks are processed by a government agency or private company. Most commonly check for criminal history, but may also involve commercial and financial records.

48. Personality and behaviour assessments – a candidate screening practice some employers use to gain insights into the candidate’s personality or behaviours in the workplace. Usually involves written or online tests that assess for role and culture fit.

49. HR Best Practice – a Human Resources process or program that is considered to be the best approach in the industry. The applicability of these practices depends on demographics, industry, and other factors, however, they are important to consider for building unique models that fit your own organization’s needs.

50. Onboarding process – an HR Best Practice for introducing a new hire to the team and work environment. This organized process may begin after an offer is accepted, and may go for several weeks. Onboarding includes but is not limited to; a company tour, meeting new colleagues, getting set up with software, email accounts, passwords, and job training.