Planning a recruitment

Competent staff in the right jobs are crucial to the success of your team, department and the wider University. Planning your recruitment strategy and following the right processes will ensure that good candidates, no matter what their background, are attracted to apply and will facilitate the selection of the best person for the role.

1) Establish employment status

Employment status falls into two broad categories; 'employee' (including 'variable hours') and 'non-employee'. Non-employee categories include: casual workers, casual teachers, agency workers (including TSS workers), self-employed contractors or consultants, interns, visitors and volunteers.

Employment status affects individuals' employment rights and matters such as pensions and employment benefits, and should be established early in recruitment. It cannot simply be agreed between an individual and a department, for example, an individual cannot be 'self-employed' because this is their preference, and someone cannot work as a ‘volunteer’ if the work to be done constitutes employment.

If in doubt, please contact the relevant HR Business Partner.

NB Government guidance states that a person may be an employee in employment law but have a different status for tax purposes. Employers must work out each individual’s employment status in both employment law and tax law.

2) Define the role, write a business case and get approvals

Whether recruiting to a new post or refilling a vacant post, consider the requirements for it carefully and compile a business case (or equivalent), in accordance with local requirements (eg any headcount control measures etc). A 'Business case considerations (144kb)' checklist is available when assessing the requirements.

When defining the role, consider any duties or risks associated with the post which may mean the successful postholder would be subject to additional pre-employment checks, such as criminal record or background checks, or a fitness to work assessment by Occupational Health. This will help to:

  • determine the safeguarding measures that could be put in place to help minimise the risk(s);
  • determine the appropriate level of pre-employment screening required; and
  • manage the wellbeing of the postholder once in post.

Obtain departmental and/or divisional authorisation for recruitment according to departmental or divisional protocols.

Ensure there is funding available to support posts at the appropriate grade and for the complete duration of the proposed contract, before an appointment is made (see Financial Regulations 3.2 (3)).

3) Write the job description

Staff who draft or advise on job descriptions should attend the Reward team’s training on ‘Introduction to HERA and writing job descriptions’. The latest job description template should be used in all recruitment exercises. This ensures compliance with relevant legislation, the University’s key policies, and the University’s house style. Key information and prompts are highlighted in the template, and should be carefully read before being deleted and replaced with text for your new role.

Check whether a generic job description already exists for the post, before proceeding further. Generic job descriptions exist for many University roles, and using one of these will save the time spent on writing a new job description and on grading (see below).

A job description is used to:

  • provide a clear outline of what is required in the job (the overall objectives and the main tasks of the role);
  • determine the grade of the post;
  • assess pre-employment health screening requirements through the identification of any hazardous or safety-critical duties;
  • support an application for outside funding (where relevant);
  • help attract the right candidates for the job from a diverse field (potential applicants should be able to accurately match their skills and experience with those listed in the selection criteria and be aware of any pre-employment health/security checks which may be required, which may make them ineligible for the post);
  • enable the selection of candidates objectively, consistently, and transparently to ensure that the candidate who best meets the selection criteria is appointed; and
  • eventually form part of the contract of employment, and be used to manage the induction and on-going performance of the postholder.

Complete and attach the Occupational Health Services Hazards and safety-critical activities checklist (42kb) to the job description for the line manager (or the PI) to fill in/check, to ensure the correct new starter health checks procedures may be followed later in the recruitment process. Specify any pre-employment security screening requirements.

Refer to the Tips on writing job descriptions & adverts (127kb) and Job description checklist (152kb) when writing job descriptions. See also: Grade and category descriptions.

4) Submit the post for grading via a ‘staff request’ in CoreHR

Before advertising, the appropriate grade for the post must be determined via the job evaluation process called ‘grading’. Submit the post for grading via a staff request in CoreHR (QRG RQ1a Creating a Staff Request - New Post (382kb)). When the post has been graded, it will be set up in CoreHR by the Reward team, ready for advertising. See also: Grade and category descriptions.

Staff classifications: 'Staff classification' codes describe the primary function of a job and must be entered into all staff requests (see the ‘Staff Classification Guide (109kb)’ guide). This data is included in the compulsory annual staff data return to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). Contact the HR Information team if you need further guidance.

5) Consider potential visa implications 

All HR staff with recruitment responsibilities should attend the Staff Immigration Team's training on Right to Work, Tier 2 and Tier 5 requirements.

Candidates from outside the EEA and Switzerland may require a Tier 2 (General) visa in order to work in the UK. The University supports applications for Tier 2 visas for eligible roles. Most research and academic roles at the University are normally eligible for a Tier 2 visa and some IT and other professional roles may be eligible. If you are unsure about the eligibility of the post, seek advice from the Staff Immigration Team.

Consider whether the role is eligible for a Tier 2 visa in the early planning stages of the recruitment to avoid having to re-advertise the post in case it does not meet the Home Office Tier 2 advertising requirements. Further details are outlined in 'Attracting candidates'.

6) Establish the selection panel

Selection panels should be agreed early in the recruitment process. Consider the diversity of your panel, especially, but not limited to gender balance. It may not always be possible to have a highly diverse panel, but a more diverse panel should help with better decision-making and addressing any issues of unconscious bias. Wherever possible, the same panel should be involved in the entire process, from shortlisting through to selecting the successful candidate. The role of the selection panel is to:

  • shortlist applicants for interview against the selection criteria;
  • decide on the Interview format and practical arrangements (219kb) (questions, tests, etc);
  • carry out the interviews;
  • consider the collated outcomes of the interviews and any other selection methods;
  • reach an agreed selection decision and recommend the selected candidate to the Head of Department (or equivalent); and
  • nominate a member of the panel (normally the chair) to give feedback to candidates where this is requested.

The involvement of more than one person at every stage of the recruitment process should help to avoid decisions being made on the basis of stereotyped assumptions or prejudices and discrimination on the part of individual panel members.

All panel members:

  • must be clear about their role;
  • must understand the selection criteria listed in the job description;
  • must have been fully briefed on any decisions; and
  • should ideally have completed the online 'Recruitment and Selection' and 'Unconscious bias' courses.

Chair of the panel: The Chair of the selection panel must have completed the training outlined above within the previous four years. It is the responsibility of the Chair to ensure that all members of the panel are familiar with the relevant elements of the University's guidelines on recruitment and selection outlined in this guidance.

steps: For equal opportunities monitoring and communication purposes, enter the details of all selection panel members in CoreHR. See: section 2.2 of REC01 Creating a Vacancy (Recruitment and Personnel) (517kb).

7) Think about your recruitment and search strategy

In planning your recruitment, think carefully about the overall strategy you will adopt to attract suitable candidates from a diverse talent pool to apply for your vacancy. Your search strategy should address issues such as how a diverse pool of applicants can be attracted, whilst targeting any under-represented groups within your area, which may, for example, include women, men or BME applicants. The under-represented groups will vary across the different areas of the University, and therefore, the local diversity requirements will need to be considered as part of every recruitment campaign. Departments that have Athena Swan plans should refer to the priorities set out in those plans, as a way of identifying any specific diversity targets.

An advertisement alone may not always reach a diverse pool of candidates and you may need to consider a more active search strategy as part of the recruitment process. See also the Equality & Diversity Unit guidance on recruitment.

8) Consider whether internal only or recruitment without advertising is appropriate

Before advertising the post departments should consider whether it might present a redeployment opportunity for any suitably qualified University employees who are coming to the end of a fixed-term contract, or whose post is otherwise at risk of redundancy (ie 'priority candidates').

There may be other circumstances where appointment without advertising may be appropriate, for example, due to identifying a suitable internal candidate or external funding, where an individual is named on a grant. Click here to view the University's policy on recruitment without advertising. See also the guidance on ‘priority candidates’.