What Happens During the Pre-Employment Process?

The average job posting receives about 250 resumes. For any hiring team, that’s a lot of information to sift through in order to narrow down the pool of candidates to a select few qualified individuals. Between resumes, candidate screening, interviews, skills tests, and more, both applicants and hiring teams are faced with a lot of, often time-consuming, work. 

What is the Pre-Employment Process?

To candidates, the pre-employment process means researching companies and open positions, applying for a role, interviewing with the hiring team, taking a pre-hire assessment or doing some kind of project, and negotiating an offer if selected for the position. However, the pre-employment process is much more complex than that for recruiters, hiring teams, and organizations. 

For talent acquisition and hiring teams, the pre-employment process is a lot longer and more complex. Talent acquisition teams start by either creating, maintaining, or simply promoting the organization’s employer brand and open positions through recruitment marketing. Once a hiring manager gets approval to hire for a new role, then the recruiter meets with the hiring manager to learn more about the upcoming job requisition, walk through the hiring process, and learn about the hiring manager’s vision for an ideal candidate. Then, it usually involves posting the job opening, sharing it, and doing some sourcing to attract and find candidates that seem like a good fit. Once a good mix of applications have been submitted by qualified candidates, then the hiring teams begin several stages of talent evaluations. That generally means screening, assessing, and interviewing candidates. All of these additional steps help determine if a candidate is a good match for the role and whether they will add value to the company and team if hired. 

5 Stages of the Candidate Journey

The Talent Board, now part of ERE Media, is an organization that evaluates candidate experiences with the intent to improve the process for recruiters and applicants. This organization uses the candidate journey as a reflection of the applicant experience, from interest in a position to hiring. An effective pre-employment process will create a positive candidate experience, ensuring that the best-fit candidates get hired for the right roles while setting the tone for a positive employee experience long-term. 

Let’s walk through each stage of the pre-employment process. 

Talent Attraction

One of the first steps in talent acquisition is talent attraction. This is generally considered employment branding and recruitment marketing. At this stage, talent acquisition, recruitment, and hiring teams market their brand, company culture, and job openings to potential candidates so quality candidates can search for and find open positions.

Usually, talent acquisition teams will leverage several channels to attract great talent. That includes setting up or maintaining branded profiles on online review sites, posting jobs on job boards, asking current employees for referrals, and more.  

The result of employer branding and recruitment marketing is a pipeline of nurtured and quality candidates ready to apply for a role. These candidates are generally interested in the organization’s mission, culture, and values and have skills the company is looking for. As part of their research, candidates generally visit a company’s career page, read job descriptions, evaluate the company’s reputation and culture and application requirements, look up online reviews from employees, and more. 


At this stage of the hiring process, organizations utilize online technology known as an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) with an application portal so candidates can submit their resumes, cover letters, and application for open jobs. These technologies allow recruiters to gather information about candidates, easily post job listings, and increase visibility into candidates for hiring teams. Plus, recruiters can handle applications and conduct administrative tasks more efficiently and scalably.

Also, at this stage, candidates will complete an initial application, usually online. This usually involves completing a questionnaire as part of the application, filling out job and education histories, and uploading a resume or cover letter. Generally speaking, the easier it is and faster it is for a candidate to complete an application, the more applicants the company will see. Another consideration is that the application process for internal and external candidates may differ. 


The screening stage is an opportunity for recruiters to better understand their candidates on a deeper level. Screening can include everything from resume reviews to initial phone screens to video interviews to pre-hire assessments, and more. This helps hiring teams understand which applicants are qualified and which of those are quality candidates. 

Recently, hiring teams have begun incorporating AI technology into this portion of the pre-employment process to reduce human bias and better understand applicants at scale. These recruiting software programs do all kinds of things including scan applications looking for matching skills, sort applicants by how closely their resume aligns with the job description, and more. This helps recruiters shortlist and further evaluate candidates for fit, skills, and personality. 

With online screening tools, phone or video interviews, and even pre-hire assessments, hiring teams can do all kinds of things including gauge personality types, workplace competencies, or factors that indicate misconduct or a poor quality of hire. These help hiring teams determine if a candidate can complete the tasks the role requires, which will then help hiring teams uncover relevant workplace competencies that the candidate holds.

Candidates may experience screening in the form of a phone screen with a recruiter, multiple rounds of interviews, or having to take a lengthy assessment or complete a project to demonstrate experience and capabilities. According to Aptitude Research, 60% of companies still offer assessments that take longer than 45 minutes to complete. This detracts from the candidate experience, and leads to candidate drop off. That said, some newer technologies may make this a whole lot easier for candidates, with software tools allowing organizations to ethically and compliantly screen candidate’s online public profiles for positive personality traits and workplace attributes based on what they share online

During this stage, hiring teams should have a clear understanding of a candidate, their skills, and what value they may add to a team. And so, this is where many candidates, for a multitude of reasons, are dropped from consideration for a position. 

Offer Letter

For candidates, the offer letter stage comes with great anticipation. This is where hiring teams extend an offer of employment to a candidate. While this may be the most anticipated part of the candidate journey, some applicants may decline an offer. 

After screening, assessing, and interviewing candidates, hiring managers will decide which of their applicants is the one they would like to offer the job. The recruiting or onboarding coordinator may then generate an offer letter and send it to the hiring manager to invite the candidate to join the company. 

At this point, the candidate can accept or decline the offer presented to them. However, this is also an opportunity to negotiate the terms of the offer, such as compensation and benefits. Further, this is when candidates can ask for clarification on next steps if they accept the position. 

Preboarding and Onboarding

The final stage of pre-employment is the start of the onboarding process. Proper preboarding and onboarding will set employees up for success in their new roles. After a candidate accepts a job offer but before they officially start the job, recruiting and onboarding professionals usually use this time to get access to tools and accounts they need and tackle pre-hire paperwork. Some recruiters and hiring teams also begin communicating daily, weekly, and monthly expectations for the role. With these expectations in place from the beginning, businesses might find that their new employees meet productivity standards much faster than those without a proper onboarding process. 

Though an offer has been extended, the role of the hiring team isn’t over yet. This is often the stage where recruiting and hiring teams conduct a final background check or reach out to references. Additionally, hiring teams will need to ensure that all of the information is accurate for internal purposes, such as payroll and benefits.

Finally, during onboarding, candidates begin their new role by providing any additional information and completing training modules. Many companies have onboarding technology that gives new hires everything they need to know and provides a step-by-step process to help them become familiar with their new position. 

Where Does Candidate Screening Fit Into the Pre-Employment Process?

As mentioned, candidate screening is vital to the pre-employment process and contributes to a positive candidate experience if executed with the right tools. Each stage throughout this process is designed to match applicants with the right positions based on their skills, competencies, and backgrounds. As such, solutions like online candidate screenings and pre-hire assessments are effective tools to help hiring teams predict how well a candidate may fit into a role. 

Beyond skills evaluations, candidate screening can help hiring teams identify positive workplace attributes early on in the hiring process. Additionally, these screenings can identify potential red flags and prior instances of misconduct in the workplace that would indicate a poor quality of hire whether they are conducted during the early stages of candidate screening or even alongside the background check after an offer is extended. 

Without candidate screening, hiring managers might not see a full picture of the candidate. Beyond the information provided in a resume or cover letter, hiring leaders need to evaluate personality, competencies, and other indicators of professionalism. Using online screening tools, candidates can be frictionlessly evaluated for issues a company has indicated are signs of a bad fit with corporate culture.

While this might look different among screening processes, some red flags to look for include discriminatory language on social media posts or aggressive engagement with other users. Ultimately, online and social media screening aims to determine how well a candidate aligns with the values of the company in order to determine if the company should move forward with the hiring process.

However, candidate screening isn’t only used to uncover negative traits. These tools are also vital for affirming values and traits that align with the mission of a company. Someone who aligns with the qualities of a good hire for a particular role can be selected to move on to the next step in the pre-employment process. 

How to Thoroughly Evaluate Talent with Candidate Screening

Looking beyond a resume or job application can change the way a candidate is viewed in the eyes of the hiring manager. Based on an application, a candidate might meet all of the criteria needed to perform well in the role. But, that doesn’t mean they are a good fit for the company or team. That’s where candidate screening really shines.

Fama’s new online screening tool, Instant Fit, is a frictionless screening tool that allows employers to understand candidate fit without requiring the candidate to fill out any questionnaires or take a test

With the right online screening tools, hiring teams can quickly and effectively evaluate talent and get qualified new hires through the door and into the right position. To learn more about Instant Fit and Fama’s range of online screening tools, reach out to our team today and request a demo!