Recruitment Glossary: All the Terms and Phrases You Need to Know

If you’re new to the recruitment world, you might feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of industry-specific terms and phrases. From candidate sourcing to onboarding, the recruitment process can be a maze of jargon and acronyms. But fear not! In this article, we’ll break down all the essential recruitment terminology you need to know. Whether you’re a recruiter or a job seeker, this glossary will help you navigate the recruitment process with ease.

General recruiting terminologies

As recruitment continues to evolve, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest terminologies used in the industry. Understanding these terms is crucial for both recruiters and job seekers to communicate effectively and ensure that they are on the same page. In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive list of general recruiting terminologies, their meanings, and how they are used in the recruitment process.

Actively Passive

Actively passive refers to candidates who are not actively seeking a job but are open to new job opportunities if presented to them. They may not be actively applying or reaching out to companies themselves, but they are receptive to hearing about potential opportunities.

Active Candidate

An active candidate is someone who is actively looking for a job or is open to new job opportunities. They may have already applied for positions or have reached out to recruiters or companies to express their interest in job openings.

AI Recruitment

AI recruitment refers to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology in the hiring process. It can include using AI for resume screening, candidate sourcing, and even conducting initial candidate interviews. The goal is to streamline the recruitment process and make it more efficient.

Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

An ATS is a software application that helps recruiters manage the entire recruitment process, from posting job openings to screening resumes and hiring candidates.

Applicant-to-Interview Ratio

The applicant-to-interview ratio is the number of applicants who are invited to an interview, divided by the total number of applicants for a given job opening. It is a metric used by recruiters and hiring managers to evaluate the effectiveness of their screening process and determine the quality of the candidate pool.

Aptitude Testing

Aptitude testing is a process that is used to evaluate a candidate’s potential and thinking capabilities. These tests are designed to assess the candidate’s qualifications and determine if they are truthful about their skills listed on their resume.


A candidate is an individual who is being considered for a job position.

Candidate Sourcing

Candidate sourcing is the process of finding potential job candidates. This can be done through a variety of channels, such as job boards, social media, and employee referrals.


Contract employment refers to positions that are based on a contract between the employer and the employee. These contracts can be short-term or long-term.

Cost per Hire

Cost per hire is the total cost of filling a job opening, including advertising, recruiting fees, and other expenses.


A recruiter is an individual or organization that is responsible for finding and hiring candidates for job positions.

Background Check

A background check is a process of verifying a candidate’s employment history, education, criminal record, and other relevant information.

Talent Acquisition

Talent acquisition is the process of identifying, attracting, and hiring skilled individuals to fill job positions in an organization.


Backfill refers to a position that is created by the departure of an incumbent employee. This term is often used when an employee takes a vacation or leaves a company.


Benefits are non-cash incentives that are offered by companies in addition to salary. These incentives include healthcare, 401K contributions, company cars, flexible schedules, paid time off, wellness programs or gym memberships, children’s daycare, student loan assistance, conference stipends, and more.

Billable Hours

Billable hours are the hours of the 40-hour workweek that are billed to a specific client. These hours are used to determine the cost of services provided by an employee or contractor.

Bonus Hours

Bonus hours are the remaining hours of the 40-hour workweek that a team member has available to work for a client. These hours are not billed specifically to the client but are worked as extra “free” hours for a client.

Boolean Search

Boolean search is a process that allows users to insert words or phrases such as AND, OR, NOT to limit, broaden, or define search results. This search technique allows the combination of five different elements to conduct a search.


A buy-back is an offer made to an employee who has resigned, in which they are offered more money than their previous salary to encourage them to stay with their current company.


C-Level refers to the top-level managers in an organization whose titles include the word “chief.” Examples include CEO (Chief Executive Officer), CFO (Chief Financial Officer), and COO (Chief Operating Officer).


The C-Suite is a term that refers to executives at the VP level and up in an organization. The term is derived from the fact that their titles include the word “chief.”


Calibration is a process that is typically done during an intake meeting, in which the recruiter or sourcer meets with the hiring manager to understand the job requirements for a new opening.

Call to Action (CTA)

A call to action (CTA) is the part of an outreach message that invites the recipient to start a conversation or take action.

Candidate Experience

Candidate experience refers to a candidate’s perception of a company’s entire recruiting and hiring process. This includes everything from the initial job posting to the final offer and beyond.

Candidate Persona

A candidate persona is a clear semi-fictional representation of the ideal candidate for a specific job opening. The candidate persona is typically determined by an HR team to tailor their sourcing and acquisition strategies towards candidates who match that persona.

Candidate Profile

A candidate profile is a framework of qualities, characteristics, or past achievements that an employer wants in a candidate for a certain job opening. This profile is used to screen candidates and determine if they are a good fit for the position.


CF is an abbreviation for Connectifier, which is a LinkedIn-owned machine learning-based searching and matching technology used to help recruiters and hiring managers find talent.

Client Kick-Off

The client kick-off is the initial meeting with a client where the scope of the partnership is clarified. This meeting sets the stage for the entire recruiting and hiring process.


The final stage of the recruitment process is when the candidate accepts the job offer and becomes an employee.

Contingency Recruiter

A recruiter or recruitment firm is only paid when they provide a candidate who is offered and accepts the position. This is sometimes referred to as “No Win, No Fee.” Contingency recruiters must work quickly to attract top talent before in-house teams and competitors.

Contract to Contract (C2C)

A contract employee who moves from one contracted position to another.

Contract to Permanent (C2P): A person who is hired as a contractor with the intention or promise of transitioning to a full-time employee after a specified period.

Cost Per Hire

The total cost of hiring new employees in a company. This metric includes all expenses of the recruitment process, including communication and administrative costs, travel, and equipment. It can be calculated by adding all hiring costs and dividing that sum by the number of hires in a certain time frame.

Counter Offer

A response made during negotiations of a final contract to a previous offer by the other party.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

A technology used for managing company relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers.

Deferred Compensation

A portion of compensation that is paid to an employee at a later date. An example of deferred compensation is a pension, which is paid when an employee retires, even though it is continuously earned.

Depending on Experience (DOE)

When the compensation for an open position is not fixed but depends on the candidate’s previous experience in the field.

Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are initiatives aimed at creating a workforce that is representative of the broader population and promoting an inclusive work environment.

Diamond Candidate

An IQTalent-specific method of sourcing and recruiting that includes the 4 C’s: collaboration, calibration, candidate, and culture.

Direct Reports

People who are directly responsible to another person; subordinates.

Elevator Pitch

A brief summary of why a company and/or position is attractive. The message should be short enough to recite during an elevator ride.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

An employer-sponsored program that offers various support arrangements to help employees through personal issues such as addiction, mental health, financial stress, marital strife, bereavement, and various other conditions/issues. EAP is a benefit offered by some employers.

Employer Branding

Employer branding is the process of creating and promoting a positive image of an organization as an employer to attract and retain top talent.

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)

Equal Employment Opportunity is a legal concept that prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Employee Referral Program

A sourcing tactic used by recruiters where current employees are rewarded for recommending candidates for open positions. This method can often reduce time to hire and cost per hire.

Employee Value Proposition (EVP)

The combined rewards and benefits that an employee will receive in return for satisfactory performance.

Equity (Shareholder Equity)

Refers to ownership in the company, usually through shares. It can be a part of compensation, especially for executive employees.

Executive Search

A specialized recruitment tactic used to seek out and recruit highly qualified senior-level candidates to fill open positions.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The Fair Labor Standards Act is a federal law that establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, and other labor standards.

Fixed-Term Contract

A contract signed with a recruiter that has a specific beginning and end date. The recruiter will only be paid for the work completed between those dates.


An abbreviation for full-time employee.

Full Lifecycle

Recruiting that begins with sourcing passive candidates and ends with an offer. This is the entire recruitment process.


The type or level of job. It is the combined list of responsibilities and competencies that are expected from a potential employee, closely aligned with the job title.


When a candidate suddenly stops communicating with a recruiter or potential employer.

Gig Worker

An individual who works a job for a specified period of time only.


A visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101, that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.

Halo and Horns Effect

Coined by psychologist Edward Thorndike in 1920, this term refers to a cognitive bias in which our general impression of a person influences how we feel and think

Headcount Mapping

A method of predicting how many vacant positions will need to be filled within a set period (often a year) and what the cost of hiring for those positions will be.

Hidden Job Market

Refers to available positions that are not listed on job boards or online.


An abbreviation for Hiring Manager.


existing within an organization; without assistance from outside the organization; internal.

Incentive Pay

compensation awarded to a limited number of high-performing employees and meant to motivate employees.

Individual Contributor (IC)

someone who does not formally lead or manage other people.


filling an open position with someone already employed at the organization.

Intake (role)

The act of taking in the information about a role from a client or hiring manager. Details include function, responsibilities, culture, experience, etc.


an abbreviation for job description.

Job Board

a website that allows employers to post open positions and accept applications.

Job Hopper

one who is inclined to jump from job to job quickly, generally staying with any one company less than two years, often, but not always younger professionals.

Job Posting

A job posting is an advertisement for a job opening. It typically includes the job title, description, and qualifications.

Job Description

A job description is a document that outlines the duties, responsibilities, and requirements of a job position.


any significant word or phrase that you would expect to find within a resume, profile, or other database entity.

Keyword Family

a collection of keyword groups that are highly related and tied together conceptually. In general, you should build Boolean using ‘OR’s within keyword families and ‘AND’s between families.

Keyword Group

a collection of iterations on a single keyword, phrase, or concept that may appear within a profile or resume. In general, you should build boolean using ‘OR’s within keyword groups and ‘AND’s between groups.

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities (KSA)

the knowledge, skills, abilities required to perform a job well.

Lateral Job Transfer

A move to another position at the same organization with relatively the same level of responsibility and pay.

Lead Generation

The initiation of interest into products or services of a business.

Lead Nurturing

The process of developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel, and through every step of the buyer’s journey.


An abbreviation for LinkedIn Recruiter.

Mail Merge

Most often used to print or email form letters to multiple recipients. Using Mail Merge, you can easily customize form letters for individual recipients.


A member of our IQTalent sourcing team at our Nashville headquarters. Our NERDs are experts in research and candidate outreach (Nashville Executive Research Division).

Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)

A non-disclosure agreement is a legal contract that prohibits one or more parties from disclosing confidential information.


When a candidate is formally extended a job opportunity.

Offer Management

Offer management is the process of extending job offers to candidates and negotiating compensation packages.

On Target Earnings (OTE)

The estimated amount of earning an employee receives when they meet their targets.

Non-Compete Agreement

A non-compete agreement is a legal contract that prohibits an employee from working for a competitor for a certain period of time.

Panel Interview

A job interview in which an applicant answers questions from a group of people who then make the hiring decision.

Passive Candidate

An individual who is satisfied in their current role and not looking for new career opportunities. These candidates are typically more difficult to reach than active candidates.

People Aggregator

A sourcing tool that collects data on professionals via the social web and creates composite profiles for evaluation. Examples are Entelo, Connectifier, TalentBin, and Dice Open Web.


Permanent employment refers to full-time positions with no predetermined end date.


A ready pool of candidates with the right qualifications to be considered for a specific role.


“Stealing” an employee from a competitor.

Post and Pray

A passive recruitment method in which a recruiter places a job opening on an online job board and hopes that great candidates respond with the right qualifications.

Pre-Employment Screening (PES)

A background check and validation of previous work experience meant to uncover criminal history, workers’ compensation claims, or previous employment issues related to the candidate.

Probationary Arrangement

A new employee and employer agree that the new employee will work for a set amount of time on a trial or probationary period.

Purple Squirrel

The rare, perfect candidate who meets every requirement for the position.


A string of boolean keywords and operators that can refer to any type of search, often used in the context of SQL and/or relational databases.

Recruitment Marketing

Recruitment marketing is the process of promoting job opportunities to potential candidates. This can be done through social media, job ads, or other marketing channels.

Referral Bonus

A cost-effective strategy where current employees are offered a monetary bonus for referring a candidate who then successfully accepts a position and passes their trial period.

Requisition (or Req)

An abbreviation for job opening.

Resume Spam

The act of submitting resumes to many job postings with little regard for the job description, required qualifications, or general job fit.


An internship program designed for professionals who are returning to the workforce.


Restricted stock or letter stock that is not fully transferable until certain conditions are met.


A phone call or video chat to assess if a prospect has the qualifications and interest to interview for a position.

Sign On Bonus

Money paid upfront to a new employee as an incentive to join the company.


The use of one or more strategies to attract or identify candidates for a specific job opening, including internal and external recruitment advertising.

Stock Options

Compensation contracts between an employer and an employee that carry some characteristics of financial options.

Talent Acquisition

The strategy used to attract and hire the best candidates.


Zoom is a shortened name for ZoomInfo, a software as a service company that provides access to its database of information about businesses and professionals to sales, marketing, and recruiting professionals through a subscription model.

Internal Recruiting Terminologies

Recruiting top talent is one of the most important functions of any organization. Companies are always on the lookout for new ways to attract and retain the best employees. One way that companies can improve their recruiting efforts is by developing a clear understanding of internal recruiting terminologies. In this blog, we will discuss the key terms and concepts related to internal recruiting, from sourcing to onboarding.

Internal Recruiting Terminologies


Job Posting

A job posting is a formal announcement of an open position within the company. The job posting typically includes information about the job title, responsibilities, qualifications, and compensation.

Employee Referral

Employee referrals are candidates who are referred to the company by current employees. Employee referrals are a popular sourcing method as they are more likely to result in a successful hire and are cost-effective.

Internal Talent Pool

An internal talent pool is a group of current employees who have been identified as potential candidates for future job openings. Internal talent pools are created to facilitate the internal recruiting process and are an effective way to retain top talent within the organization.

B. Screening

Resume Screening: Resume screening is the process of reviewing job applicants’ resumes to determine whether they meet the minimum qualifications for the position. This step is typically performed by a recruiter or hiring manager.

Pre-Employment Assessment: Pre-employment assessments are used to evaluate a candidate’s skills, personality, and job fit. These assessments can take various forms, including personality tests, cognitive ability tests, and situational judgment tests.

Interview: Interviews are a critical step in the screening process. Interviews can be conducted in person, over the phone, or through video conferencing. The purpose of the interview is to evaluate the candidate’s skills, experience, and fit with the organization’s culture.

C. Selection

Offer Letter

An offer letter is a formal written offer of employment that includes details about the job title, salary, benefits, and start date. The offer letter is typically sent after the candidate has successfully completed the screening process.


Negotiation is the process of reaching a mutually beneficial agreement between the employer and the candidate regarding the terms of employment. Negotiation may include discussions about salary, benefits, and job responsibilities.


Onboarding is the process of integrating new employees into the organization. This process includes orientation, training, and introductions to key team members.

Best Practices for Internal Recruiting

To ensure a successful internal recruiting process, organizations should follow best practices, including:

  1. Communicate clearly with employees about the internal recruiting process and the criteria for job promotions. This will help to ensure that employees are aware of the opportunities available to them and the qualifications required for those opportunities.
  2. Develop an internal talent pool. Identifying potential candidates for future job openings and creating a talent pool can streamline the internal recruiting process and help to retain top talent within the organization.
  3. Use multiple sourcing methods. While employee referrals are a cost-effective and successful sourcing method, organizations should also use job postings and other recruitment methods to attract a diverse pool of candidates.
  4. Standardize the screening process. Establishing a standardized screening process can ensure that all candidates are evaluated consistently and fairly.
  5. Provide timely and constructive feedback to candidates. Timely and constructive feedback can help candidates understand why they were not selected for a particular role and can provide valuable insight for future job searches.
  6. Prioritize onboarding. A thorough and effective onboarding process can help new employees feel welcome and valued, and can set the tone for a successful employment experience.

External Recruiting Terminologies

Here are some most commonly used external recruiting terminologies.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO)

Recruitment Process Outsourcing is a business model where a company outsources the management of talent acquisition, either wholly or partially, to a third-party firm. This process can include sourcing, screening, interviewing, and onboarding candidates.

Retained Recruiters

Retained recruiters are recruitment firms that charge an upfront fee to the client to conduct a search. The recruiter will provide a shortlist of qualified candidates for the client to choose from.

Social Recruitment (Social Hiring or Social Media Recruiting)

Social recruitment is the process of attracting candidates by using social media platforms for advertising and finding information on candidates. This method has become increasingly popular in recent years due to the ease of access and the ability to reach a wider audience.

Target Company

A target company is any company whose talent is desirable for a number of reasons, such as working on a competing product, holding desirable degrees, or participating in a similar culture.


A temp is a temporary employee. Temp jobs are typically used to fill short-term needs, such as filling in for an employee who is on leave or working on a special project.

Time to Fill

Time to Fill refers to the average time it takes to fill an open position. This includes the time it takes to source candidates, screen and interview them, and make a job offer.

TN Visa

A TN Visa is a special non-immigrant classification in the United States that offers expedited work authorization to citizens of Canada or nationals of Mexico.


Turndown refers to the post-interview process when a recruiter tells a candidate that they did not receive the job.

Wage Drift

Wage drift is the difference between the negotiated salary and the one that is actually paid to an employee by the end of a certain work period. This is most common in industries with unpredictable demand and seasonal hikes.

Recruiting interview terminologies

Recruiting is a crucial aspect of any organization, and interviews are an essential part of the recruiting process. During an interview, a candidate is assessed based on their skills, experience, and fit for the role. The recruiter uses various interview terminologies to assess the candidate’s abilities and potential. In this blog, we will discuss some of the commonly used recruiting interview terminologies.

Behavioral Interview

This type of interview assesses how a candidate has behaved in certain situations in the past. The interviewer asks questions about the candidate’s past experiences and how they handled specific scenarios.

Technical Interview

This type of interview assesses a candidate’s technical skills and knowledge in a particular field. The interviewer asks questions related to the candidate’s technical skills, projects they have worked on, and their problem-solving abilities.

Cultural Fit Interview

This type of interview assesses whether the candidate’s values and work style align with the organization’s culture. The interviewer asks questions about the candidate’s work style, values, and how they work with others.

Stress Interview

This type of interview assesses a candidate’s ability to handle pressure and stressful situations. The interviewer may ask challenging questions or create a stressful environment to observe how the candidate reacts.

Panel Interview

This type of interview involves multiple interviewers, usually from different departments or levels within the organization. The panel may ask a variety of questions to assess the candidate’s skills and suitability for the role.

Case Interview

This type of interview assesses a candidate’s problem-solving abilities. The interviewer presents a hypothetical scenario and asks the candidate to provide a solution.


This type of interview is conducted over the phone and is often used as a screening tool before inviting the candidate for an in-person interview. The interviewer may ask questions related to the candidate’s experience, skills, and availability.

Video Interview

This type of interview is conducted over video conferencing software, such as Skype or Zoom. The interviewer and candidate can see and hear each other, making it a useful tool for remote recruiting.


This type of interview involves multiple candidates being interviewed at the same time. The interviewer may ask group questions or observe how the candidates interact with each other.

In conclusion, the above-mentioned recruiting interview terminologies are commonly used to assess a candidate’s abilities and potential. As a candidate, it is essential to understand the type of interview you will be attending and prepare accordingly. As a recruiter, it is crucial to choose the right interview format to assess a candidate’s skills and suitability for the role.

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