In theory, recruitment of mansabdars were directly performed by the emperor and, as far as possible, candidates for enrolment were required to appear personally before him. The majestic eye was considered to be razor-sharp and penetrating enough to distinguish the merits and demerits of every man. Abu'l Fazl states, 'His Majesty sees through some men at the first glance, and confers upon them high rank'. The Bakhshi was responsible for presenting all candidates: Iranis, Turanis, Rumis, Ferangis, Hindus and Kashmiris, who came for service before the emperor. However, another method of recruitment was that the leading nobles of the empire, especially governors of provinces and leaders of military expeditions, recommended persons for appointment to the emperor. Their recommendations were generally accepted and mansabs were given to the people they recommended. At times, the emperor ordered men recommended by nobles for the award of a petty mansab to be presented at a review and after that the mansab was awarded. Princes from the royal family also recommended men to the emperor for appointment and their recommendations were accepted in most cases. This was also a way in which promotion of mansabdars happened, though demanding some time.
Once a recommendation was submitted to the emperor and approved by him, an elaborate procedure was followed for preparing the appointment order. The royal approval was sent to the diwan, the bakhshi and the sahib-i-taujih (military accountant) for inspection. It was then presented to the emperor once more after it had passed through these imperial officers. After the emperor had approved the order a second time, the formal appointment order (farman) was drawn up, requiring the seals of various officers, especially the diwan and bakshi, before it was issued under the seal of the maharaja. Recruitment and promotion of the mansabdars, as might seem to read, was just not merely a ceremonious process, but called for absolute competency from the selected individual.
Every candidate for a mansab had to provide a surety (zamin) and this rule was extremely rigorously enforced. It appears that professional bankers or money-lenders of standing were accepted as sureties by the administration. Persons standing as surety were held responsible for the behaviour of the mansabdar and undertook to meet any claims of the government against the mansabdar concerned, if the latter failed to meet them. Sureties were, therefore, hard to obtain and were apparently bought. The mansabdar recruitment and promotion was gradually viewed as a tedious job, especially when gaining a surety. Thus it was regarded as a great concession to the Deccanis when Aurangzeb exempted them from this obligation.
The procedure for the grant of promotions to mansabdars was similar to the procedure for the grant of the initial mansab. The recommendation (or tajwiz) for promotion was usually made by princes, commanders or governors, under whom the mansabdar happened to be serving. It was the general custom for the emperor to award promotion in mansabs on the occasion of festivities, at the beginning of the financial year and on his birthday celebrations. However, promotions were also granted on other occasions, such as the beginning or the end of a military expedition.
Promotions to mansabdars were awarded for various reasons. Gallantry in military service and merit occupied a pride place; at the other end of the scale stood the promotions granted on acknowledgment of a handsome present or peshkash from a noble. Promotion was also generally, though not invariably, given when an officer was found to really deserve a superior post. In any case, the ranks of mansabdars being increased simultaneously with their appointments to higher posts were also witnessed in Mughal period. However, there also lie cases of appointments to higher posts without a corresponding increase in the mansab. An increase in the mansab was usually proportionate to the mansab already held, the grant of an increase larger than the original rank being quite outstanding. Normally, a promotion by an additional mansab of more than 50 per cent of the original was not granted. Thus, the author of Ma'asir-al Umara had expressed surprise at the sudden promotion by Aurangzeb of Khan-i Jahan Bahadur Zafar Jang from low ranks to a neat 5,000. All mansabs above 7000/7000 (2-3h) were reserved for princes of the imperial family. Recruitment and promotion of mansabdars thus mirrored a royal discrepancy, often noticed in Mughal times.