Describing the job and the person
If you have a vacancy or other resourcing need then you should contact your Faculty or Divisional HR Team
in the first instance to discuss how best to take this forward and the support that HR will provide
New or existing jobs will need to have been described in detail on a job description template in order to have their grade confirmed through job evaluation or role profile matching, as outlined in the next section, Agreeing the grade. Research and Teaching roles will also have been placed on the appropriate academic career pathway and profile level.
The information provided in the template forms the basis of the further particulars for the vacancy, which are central to the whole recruitment and selection process because they:
- provide the key elements and messages that you include in the job advert;
- identify the key selection criteria (particularly the person specification) that you will use throughout the selection process;
- enable candidates to decide whether they are attracted to the job, are likely to be suitable and ultimately, therefore, whether they wish to apply.
Using the template will help you to provide candidates with a fully comprehensive and easy to follow description of the vacancy. Presentation and content are crucial, as candidates will make assumptions about the role, your department and the University based on the quality and quantity of information provided.
You will need to include the following in the further particulars:
- job description - grade and salary range, hours etc. and responsibilities and tasks; this should also include any requirements arising from hazards associated with the role, such as immunisations or on-going health surveillance;
- person specification - the qualifications, skills, knowledge and experience that will form the basis of your selection criteria;
- background information - on the area of work, the department and the University, including information on any relevant Faculty-wide or cross-Faculty research themes.
Information on terms and conditions of employment, the benefits of working at the University will be provided with the vacancy details posted on the University web site.
The qualifications, skills, knowledge and experience that you include in the person specification form the basis of the selection criteria used throughout the selection process for:
- self-selection by candidates - people can make an informed choice as to whether they are suitable;
- short-listing - paper-based assessment of how well candidates meet the selection criteria;
- devising tests, presentations and interview questions - matching these with specific elements of your selection criteria so you can rate people against them, considering how these might be adjusted to support disabled candidates as appropriate;
- deciding on the best person for the job - bringing together the evidence from the selection process to determine who best meets the selection process.
Developing appropriate selection criteria, often referred to as the person specification, is a crucial part of the whole recruitment and selection process. Here are some tips on things to think about in deciding on your selection criteria:
- What is essential to the job from day one and what is desirable (but could be realistically gained through experience, training or further qualifications in the role)?
- Paint a realistic picture of the experience, qualifications and skills you are looking for. Do not set such impossibly high standards that you reduce your chances of finding anyone suitable.
- Don't simply list the attributes of the previous or existing post-holder - consider whether the job evolved or changed since you last recruited?
- Specify the experience you are looking for in relation to any job-specific processes, equipment or machinery; planning and organising; communication and team-working; flexibility or multi-tasking and other skills and qualities that are relevant to the role.
- Identify any areas of specialism in which experience or knowledge may be sought within a broader subject area, to attract a more targeted field of suitable candidates.
- Make sure you use statements that are objective, realistic and justifiable and do not inadvertently rule people out who may be suitable.
- Make sure the wording is clear and unambiguous e.g. "a degree or equivalent in a relevant subject" rather than "a degree".
- Specify the nature, quality, context and quantity of each type of experience or skill so that it can be used as an effective measure e.g:
"strong aptitude for computer based work and extensive experience of using a wide range of office PC packages in a deadline-driven environment" rather than "IT skills";
"High quality communication skills - able to develop a strong rapport, empathy and professional credibility with senior managers and academics" rather than "good communication skills".
- Do not include age-related criteria in job and person specifications, selection criteria and advert wording. Avoid words like "young", "recently qualified" and "mature", as these could potentially be seen to be discriminatory to older or younger workers and therefore in breach of the Equality Act.
- Avoid specifying a required length of experience. Using such a requirement, particularly where it is for a lengthy period, could potentially be seen to be discriminatory against both younger workers and women who have taken career breaks when having children and therefore in breach of the Equality Act. Focus instead on what type of experience you are looking for, rather than an arbitrary duration, which is unlikely to be a good indicator of performance in any case. Suggested alternatives to length of experience are: "proven" for 1-2 years; "significant" for 3-5 years; and "extensive" for 5+ years. For instance, "Significant experience of providing a service in a busy, customer-focused environment" rather than "Three years customer service experience".
- 'Reality check' your selection criteria to ensure they do not include any content that is potentially discriminatory or unreasonably excludes certain groups without justification.
- Identify at what stage in the process you will be using each of the selection criteria i.e. which can be used for short-listing, interview, tests etc?
Example selection criteria
A set of Professional and Administrative Grade Descriptors have been developed in conjunction with Hay (the University's job evaluation scheme) providing typical activities and person specifications for each grade; these can be adapted to the specific requirements of your role.
Other example selection criteria: