"Going Through the Motions" in Recruitment

I have a question for you as an HR professional. I’ve often wondered about employers “going through the motions” with the recruitment process.

What I mean by that is employers that have an internal candidate that they intend to recruit into a position but, because of internal policy or affirmative action, choose to post the position for open recruitment. Then the hiring manager conducts interviews knowing that, despite having an equally or better-qualified candidate for the role, they will move forward with an offer for the internal candidate. Alternatively, the hiring manager doesn’t conduct any interviews because they never wanted to consider any other candidates in the first place, and they make an offer after the position is posted for the specified amount of days.

So I’m wondering, is it better to do an open recruitment to meet some affirmative action objective or internal policy requirement and potentially be “going through the motions” with candidates who honestly believe they’re being considered for the position, or is it better to waive the recruitment process entirely, never post the position, and promote or transfer that individual into the vacant role?

I suppose that the answer depends on a lot of factors and that the employer receiving federal grants or contracts probably really impacts HR advice, but I’d be happy to know generally what other HR professionals think about this practice. I haven’t found a ton of discussion about it online, and what I have found suggests it doesn’t happen very often.

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  • I resonate with some of your concerns! If there's already a strong candidate internally, allowing other people to apply can create a perception that "they knew who they would pick all along".  I've advised to post or to not post the job internally before depending on the situation.


    Could you work to build a culture where if internal candidates apply for jobs but aren't selected, they are coached on how they need to prep for it next time?  How about if all managers spoke with employees about their aspirations a couple times a year and proactively worked to develop them?  I think if employees know the company cares about their development and is supporting their growth through conversations with their manager, internal networking, defining the competencies to develop and providing resources, it will off-set negative perceptions.  Internal interviews could become a part of the development process and can be perceived positively even if the employee isn't chosen.

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