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What to consider when recruiting

Recruitment can be expensive and time consuming, therefore it’s important that the right individual, with matching skills and experience and the capability to perform the role is selected.

Recruitment and selection are the processes that attract and select applicants to a job role. these processes vary depending on the size, and sometimes sector, of your organisation.

There are some key commonalities:

  • Defining the role

  • Attracting applicants

  • Managing the application and selection process

  • Making a job offer

What are the employment laws around recruitment?

There is no legal requirement to have a recruitment and selection policy, and there is no specific legislation that requires employers to advertise a vacancy, or that sets out how that vacancy should be managed.

However, there is legislation, by way of the Equality Act 2010 that legally protects people from acts of discrimination. Applicants to job vacancies (whether internal or external applicants) are protected by this Act and have a right not to be treated less favourably.

Throughout the recruitment and selection process you must ensure that the process is transparent and that candidates are not treated less favourably because of their protected characteristic(s).

Defining the role

This is the first step – to establish what you require from the postholder. If the role is an existing role, this is a good opportunity to review the role and the skills and qualities you require from the postholder.

This is usually documented in the form of a Job Description. When reviewing or producing a job description consider:

  • The job purpose and the duties involved

  • A summary of key responsibilities (there’s no requirement to list every task)

  • How and where it can be carried out (particularly if you have remote working practices)

  • Where it fits in the organisation structure (who will the post report to, will the post have reportees?)

To accompany a Job Description would usually be a Person Specification. The Person Specification lists the essential criteria for the role and would be used in selecting applicants.

A Person Specification may include the essential skills, experience, qualifications and knowledge required for the role. Its important with a Person Specification that the characteristics and requirements are clear, related to the role and avoid any bias in wording.

Attracting applicants

To support the recruitment should be a job advertisement. These adverts should give clear, accurate information about the role and the employing organisation.

Usually a job advertisement would include:

  • Job title

  • Location of job

  • Salary and any other benefits

  • Brief description of the role

  • How to apply and where to find more information

  • The closing date (and sometimes interview dates)

There are many ways to advertise vacancies. There is the traditional press, but many posts are advertised online. This is either on a job board (e.g. Indeed, Total Jobs) or a via jobs pages e.g job centre, Guardian Jobs or directly on an organisation’s website.

The method you choose may depend on the type of role, the seniority of the post, the recruitment budget etc.

Managing the application and selection process

Applications can be received in a number of ways, these include

  • Application form

  • CV

  • Letter of application

Application forms allow for candidates information to be presented in a consistent format. Each candidate is required to provide the same information, in the same order. This makes it more efficient to collect and read the information provided by candidates.

It is important that the application form only asks for factual information and information that relates to the recruitment process. An unnecessarily long or poorly designed application form can put applicants off applying. Employers should also be aware that an application form should be available in different formats to meet the Equality Act. Questions around previous sickness history or health should not be asked on the application form.

A CV is produced by the applicant. This means that the information provided will be in different formats and may not include all the information the employer requires.

Some smaller employers may accept a letter of application, or a verbal application.

There is no requirement to follow a particular method, but there is a requirement to ensure whichever method you choose is not discriminatory.

Once applications have been received you should shortlist candidates. Candidates should be shortlisted against the essential criteria for the role. It is good practice to acknowledge all applications and respond to successful and unsuccessful applications. This is good practice and presents a positive image of the organisation.

Making a job offer

Before making a job offer you may consider making a ‘conditional offer of employment’. This is an offer that is conditional upon certain checks being satisfactorily completed.

Some checks that you may make include:

References. These are often sought from previous employers. You should clearly state how references will be used and who the candidate should provide as a referee. References are covered by GDPR, so it is very usual to see basic factual employment data from a previous employer. Referees are likely to avoid answering questions about their opinion or other subjective questions.

Medical questionnaires. Depending on the role you may request a medical questionnaire from a candidate. This would indicate if there are any health issues where a reasonable adjustment may need to be made to ensure the individual can successfully undertake the role. NOTE: a medical questionnaire should only be requested when a job offer is made.

Qualifications. Some employers will require proof of qualifications. This may include driver’s licence or proof of registration with a recognised body.

In all cases UK employers are responsible for checking applicants have a right to work in the UK.

Rules and practices around references and other checks should be consistent with all candidates and all candidates should be informed that their new employer will be seeking references.

Employment offers should always be in writing, but employers should also be aware that a verbal offer of employment is as legally binding as a written offer.

As soon as possible the employee should be given a written statement of particulars of employment (sometimes called an employment contract). This is a day one right when the employee starts their employment.


All applications are considered as personal data, for the purposes of GDPR. Therefore, information must be kept secure and only used for the purposes of recruitment.

The recruitment process should be documented accurately and only limited staff should have access to these documents. Recruitment information should only be retained for as long as it is needed. Usually this would be up to 6 months, this timescale allows for any feedback or complaints to be handled.

Recruitment and selection policy

Whilst it is not a legal requirement it is good practice to have a recruitment and selection policy. The purpose of the policy would be to outline how recruitment and selection is handled in your organisation.

The policy would usually include a policy statement making clear that the organisation is committed to ensuring that there is no discrimination, on any grounds, at any stage of the recruitment process, or in the terms and conditions offered to new employees, or promoted employees.

The policy would describe each stage of the recruitment procedure. Among other information, the policy would be clear on how posts are advertised, how candidates can apply and the pre-employment checks that would be made on candidates.

If the postholder requires a DBS check, please refer to this page for information on DBS checks.

As with any policy, employers should be aware that if a recruitment and selection policy is in place, that any recruitment activity follows the agreed policy. Where activity is outside the policy, this may present a risk of claims of unfair, or unfavourable treatment.

If you require any advice on recruitment in your organisation or would like to discuss developing a recruitment and selection policy, please get in touch.

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1 Comment

Maxim Belov
Maxim Belov
Nov 08, 2022

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