Learn How the Hiring Decision Is Really Made

21 Oct 2022

Hiring good employees is one of the greatest challenges that any company faces. And thus, the recruitment process is usually painful for most candidates who apply for jobs. Although there are a few elements of the employee hiring process, if known, can increase your chances of being recruited. So how the hiring decision is really made

The recruitment process starts with the company posting about a job online/ in the newspaper or letting other connections know of the requirement through a word of mouth. After you apply for the job, the first step in the hiring process is resume screening. Here is a sneak peek into the hiring decision process:

Resume screening

When you think of resume screening, you might imagine an HR or a hiring manager skimming through your resume and calculating whether you are the right candidate for the job. Although, is it that straightforward? A simple answer would be, No. Different organizations do resume screening differently. According to an article published in Livemint, about 53% of companies in India use ATS (Applicant tracking system) for the initial screening of resumes as of 22 March 2017. Other sources claim that up to 75% of Indian companies use an ATS to filter out candidates for further analysis. Some estimates tell us that the ATS system rejects approximately 75% of candidates on an average. So, what is this ATS?

Understanding ATS

ATS or Applicant tracking system is an online software application that can screw your chances of landing into your dream job, in case you don't optimize your resume according to its standards. Technically, it processes the data of the candidates for a particular job and delivers it in a highly organized format. Furthermore, according to the customized requirements filled by the recruiter, the ATS lets him/her know whether the candidate is fit for the job. Most applications don’t make through ATS systems because of a few common mistakes that candidates make in their resumes. A few things that you should know so as to minimize these mistakes are:

Keywords focussed approach

ATS scans your resume for some specified keywords. If the keywords are not found, then the resume ends up rejected. Some of these systems are beginning to make use of NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) techniques to become more diverse with keywords. You should still try to stick to some prominent keywords anyway, just to be safe.

ATS can misread Resumes

It is, after all, software. If your resume is not optimized for ATS, it can be misread. Most ATS don't understand graphics (including bullets) and formatting. An ATS can easily read doc and pdf file formats. Although, avoid using any tables or graphics. ATS is also not programmed to process italicized or underlined text. Many ATS don't understand special characters(ampersands, accent marks, etc.) as well.

Resume deleted

Whether your resume is deleted or stored in the “holding database” for further consideration, depends on the kind of customization the company set for their ATS.


ATS gives some points to your application. Usually, companies tend to reject candidates who have less than the required minimum score.

Size matters

Some companies might program their ATS to reject the resumes with more than 2 pages in length. Others might accept it. You must be as risk-free in this approach as possible. 


Try to avoid the use of Acronyms as much as possible. Chances are, the ATS system won’t understand them.

LinkedIn Quick Apply

It is a good practice to search for jobs on LinkedIn and utilize their ‘quick apply’ feature. It is already ATS optimized and the probability of formatting mistakes reduces to a great extent. Whether or not an organization uses an ATS to filter out the candidates before a human review of the CV depends greatly on the hiring requirement of the organization. 

If the company is huge and has thousands of applications to be processed daily, then to automate the process, an ATS is needed.  

But for startups where the hire count does not increase beyond 1-10 per month, automation shouldn’t be a problem, and there is no need to leverage such a tool. That said, you should still optimize your resume for ATS.

Second resume review

After your resume has parsed through ATS, a recruiter reviews it. 


It is either the hiring manager or the HR reviewing your resume. Sometimes, there is involvement of both hiring managers and the HR. If the firm is small, then it is going to be someone from the relevant team and the founder. At this stage, all of the decision depends on whether your resume displays the mentioned skill-set and the kind of experience you hold for the same.  

Make sure all the data that you have mentioned in your resume is true. There might be some cross-checks at this stage regarding the same. Some reference checks may also be involved in this process. There is no strict research data around this, but, on an average, the recruiter might spend 30 seconds to review your resume.

The Interview

A few points to note about the interview process: 

  • When a recruiter sends you an e-mail, try to respond to it within 24 hours of reception. 
  • The recruiter might or might not conduct a telephonic interview with you. It doesn’t tell much about your position as a hire in the company. It is as per the company’s policy and choice. 
  • The hiring decision is mostly made within the first 10-15 mins of the interview itself. You can judge your standing by the interest the interviewer is taking in the process after those few mins. 
  • Sometimes people from bigger organizations conduct longer interviews only to make the candidate feel like they are being assessed properly so that they don’t get bad ratings online, which might discourage other candidates to apply. 
  • Know the thumb rule— “The interview is not just about what skills you possess, but also about how well can you leverage those skills to get work done in the company”. Therefore, interviewers ask you some situational questions to judge your attitude sometimes.

A few questions that the interviewer is mostly wanting answers to during an interview are:  

  1. Does the person possess all the required skills for the job? 
  2. Has he/she done the homework? 
  3. How much experience does this person hold? 
  4. How much training will this individual need? Do we have the bandwidth till then? 
  5. After how long can this person work independently? 
  6. Is the salary the individual is asking for worth the candidature? 
  7. For how long will this person stay in the company? Is he/she worth the investment? 
  8. Can you provide any additional benefits apart from your core skill-set? 
  • The hiring managers or HRs have a particular budget for the salary they offer the candidates. If they see a potential candidate they will try to make him/her take the offer with whatever power they hold. If the person is asking for a salary that is exceeding the budget, the hiring manager can still adjust it with other profiles, in case it seems worth it. The hiring manager may involve other team members in such cases. 
  • The referrals matter a lot. But, it highly depends on who is referring you Trust is very important in hiring. With the same level of expertise, a person with a strong referral will stand as the first choice.

Who takes the final call?

It depends on the people you have interviewed. In start-ups, it is usually one of the founders who make the decision. Being a small team, start-ups are more scrutinized about hiring potential candidates. And thus, at least one of the founders makes sure to interview the candidate before making the final call. Although, in bigger organizations, it is the recruiters or hiring managers.

Sometimes, the hiring manager might refer you to a senior executive and he/she might take the final decision. In some companies, HRs act like screening mechanisms. The other team members take the charge after they drop out of action.

In most cases, the highest authority you have given the interview to is the person who will make the final decision. His/her decision can vary according to the reviews by the team, sure. But, now you know in which court does the ball lie.

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