How to build a high performing in-house recruitment function


Instant Impact are experts in building and running high performing in-house recruitment functions. This article by our director, Rob Blythe, explores what we mean by high performance, outlines the key steps that you need to execute to achieve it and shares some insight from over 9 years’ experience of helping companies to solve complex talent challenges.

The 6 high performance success factors

Before considering how to achieve high performance, we first need to define it. There are 6 key success factors that a high performing team will be excelling in:

  • Making high quality hires: hiring the talent that you need;
  • Speed: making all hires when you need them;
  • Trust: using clear and consistent recruitment processes that are tracked and reporting on in real-time;
  • Time saving: Hiring Managers should only be meeting the very best candidates for their roles;
  • Cost effective: at least 80% of hires are made directly and recruitment spend consistently comes in under budget; and,
  • Strategic: continually improving key objectives such as Diversity.

It’s worth noting that these success factors are consistent regardless of which recruitment model you’re using although they’re only possible to achieve at scale with an in-house team. You can find out more on the different models of recruitment here.

The 3 Components of an in-house function

There are 3 key components to any high performing in-house recruitment function:

1. Expertise


In order to achieve all the success factors, it is essential to have a clear strategy. We suggest starting by outlining what a great hire looks like for every role and department at the organisation. It is important that you have a clear picture of this and that everyone agrees.

The next step is to assign someone who can set the direction and engage with the senior stakeholders internally to make sure that it happens. Then you can outline what you’re trying to achieve and by when - choose which of the success factors you’re going to focus on first.

We believe that all of the success factors flow from setting up a high quality Direct Hiring Model because, unless you’re able to hire directly, you’re not going to be able to reduce agency spend, increase speed or impact diversity.

Start by focusing on the roles that the business hires most often as this is where you’re likely to find the quickest wins and make the biggest impact. It’s typically entry – mid level hires which should absolutely be placed directly.


Recruitment is a specialist skill set: the team needs to be well managed and motivated to deliver the results that you want. They also need the strategy and alignment to your business to make sure that they’re heading in the right direction.

A large team delivering hundreds of hires should have a specialist Head of Recruitment or Talent reporting into your HR Director who can manage the team and provide the strategic direction that they need.

If you are hiring at a lower volume then there are a few options.

  • Your HR Director / Head of People could manage the function if they have experience leading recruitment functions
  • Or, if you’re forecasting a rapid increase in recruitment, your first recruitment hire could be a senior person with the capability of growing into a Head of Recruitment role and therefore the ability to report into your HR Director from day one.
  • The final option is that you may need to look externally for that capability which is where a partner like Instant Impact could come in

2. The team

When considering the team that you need there are three main things to consider:

The hiring volume

The more hires you need to make, the bigger the team needs to be to deliver them in-house. Without the right in-house teams there is little alternative other than to turn to agencies - that’s when costs really spiral out of control. A good team should pay for itself from month 1.

The frequency and certainty of your hiring

If you hire in periods of high and low volume, flexibility is essential. You can achieve this by having a team that can deal with the low volume periods and using agencies (or extra capacity from your HR function) for the high volume periods. The other option is to have a team that can deal with the high volume periods and then have a plan for how to use their capacity elsewhere when there’s less recruitment. Alternatively, you can look at contractors but, part of the benefit of an in-house function is that they know you and your business so be careful to ensure continuity of experience for your different teams.

The right recruiters

Most businesses make a wide range of different hires as well as covering different international markets so you need recruiters who have the agility to support in all of those areas and to train them on the different types of roles and locations that you want them to recruit for unless they have all that experience already.

When hiring in-house recruiters you need to be looking for someone who is happy to spend a lot of time on the phone and has the work ethic and influencing skills of an agency recruiter, whilst also being aligned to the culture, values and vision of your business.

You need to look for the rare recruiter who is commercial enough to understand what your company needs now and, in the future, and who is tough enough to stand up to hiring managers when they don’t follow the process.

3. Marketing & Technology

The core principles to remember for this are:

  • Ensure you have a high quality Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that’s being used correctly and is fully implemented with your HRIS systems. It should be set up to automate manual processes, ensure consistency and provide all the data & reporting that you want. In addition to this it should enable you to pipeline future talent, saving you crucial time for those hiring needs further down the line
  • Utilise technology in your assessment to ensure that your process is highly predictive of performance in role.
  • Track candidate experience – we recommend Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • Ensure that you have all of the marketing channels that you need to be successful such as LinkedIn licenses for outreach and a bespoke plan for job board advertising. As well as an approach to social media and generating internal referrals.

You can find out more about Marketing & Technology in our Insights on Recruitment Technology and Employer Branding.

With those components all in place you need to be data driven to ensure that you’re constantly improving and achieving high performance. Get in touch to find out more about how we build and run high performing in-house recruitment functions at Instant Impact.