Selecting candidates

The methods and procedures used during the selection process should enable departments to make successful appointment decisions. This should lead to the recruitment of staff who can add value by effectively applying their skills and knowledge to the job, whilst contributing to the strategic aims of the department and the wider University.

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As soon as possible after the advert closing date, review the applications for the following :

Priority candidates

Applications must first be checked for candidates with priority status (identifiable by the priority candidate letter, and/or by the priority candidate field in the 'Additional questions' section of the application). A separate shortlisting pack of only priority candidates should be sent to the selection panel, along with the link to the relevant guidance on priority candidates, ideally before other applications are considered.

Applications made outside the recruitment system
  • Off-line applications (manual/paper)
    These can be accepted in exceptional circumstances, for example if a candidate cannot apply online due to a disability.
  • College applications
    College employees may apply for internal-only vacancies but are not able to submit applications directly on-line via the University jobs website so their applications will need to be uploaded manually.

HR system steps: add off-line applications before creating the shortlisting pack

Right to return

Ensure any candidate who have previously worked at the University have the right to return (for example, if an individual left through ill-health retirement, or under a settlement agreement, as they may be ineligible to work for the University again).

HR system steps: update the 'Right to Return' User Defined Field when the check has been completed.



Shortlisting Pack

HR system steps: once the above checks have been completed, create a Shortlisting Pack for the selection panel.


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Shortlisting form

A template shortlisting form can be downloaded from the Recruitment Dashboard (a standard and extended version are available). These templates may be customised and used in a number of ways, for example, as a simple tick/cross system in each box, a scoring system or a coding system. A notes column can be used to clarify the score or add to it.

HR system steps: generate and download a template shortlisting form (OPTIONAL)


NB It is not compulsory to use the HR system versions: an alternative method may be used, if preferred, as long as it is fair and can be applied consistently and systematically to ensure the best candidates are selected for the next stage of recruitment, and allows record-keeping.

Assessing applications

Ideally the whole selection panel, but at least two panel members, should assess all the applications. Applications should be assessed objectively against the selection criteria listed in the job description, seeking to gather evidence from the application as to whether the candidate meets the necessary selection criteria. This guards against potential bias or lack of impartiality, for example where an applicant is known to the panel, or is from a group under-represented at the University. Focus should be placed on the essential criteria, with the desirable criteria being used where too many candidates remain. New selection criteria should not be introduced at this stage as these will not have been reflected in the published advert/job description, and as such could be seen as discriminatory. It is important to take into account any relevant skills and experience which may have been gained by the candidate outside of employment.

Where relevant, such as for research posts, there may also be the need to consider the impact of Covid-19 on the candidate’s work or research outputs.

  • Where candidates mention disability in their application, selection panels should assess them against the selection criteria in the normal way, and on the assumption that appropriate reasonable adjustments will be put in place.
  • All priority candidates who meet the essential selection criteria MUST be offered an interview. If a suitable priority candidate is identified and appointed after interview, the recruitment may be closed, without the need to further assess other candidates. Other candidates should be informed that the post has been filled by a redeployee.

At this stage it is important not to base decisions on information disclosed in references (if already provided), as they may be biased or reveal personal information which should not be taken into account. Where references have already been provided at this stage they must be held separately and confidentially until the selection panel has made its selection based on the selection criteria in the job description.

Recording shortlisting decisions

Keep a note of all the candidates ruled out initially, with more detail for those in the 'long' shortlist. This not only enables vital evidence to be provided if the process is challenged, but also provides a basis for feedback if requested by unsuccessful candidates. This is also necessary to meet the Home Office requirements should the successful candidate require a skilled worker visa.. Any cases of inconsistent scoring or assessment should be discussed by all members of the selection panel.


HR system steps:


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The strict Tier 2 visa rules on where and how long to advertise, and the selection process, no longer apply, but under the Skilled Worker visa rules the applicant must still meet the 'qualifications required' as listed in the job description/ further particulars, and the role must be a 'genuine vacancy'.

Instead of copies of recruitment documents, a Skilled Worker Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) application only requires information about the advertising (or reason for direct appointment) and short summary of why the successful candidate was selected (or identified as being suitable for direct appointment to the role).

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Using selection tests

Candidates’ suitability for a role can be assessed via a range of selection methods, to gather evidence for selection. The use of tests can help to compare candidates with the requirements of the job in a fair and objective way. Any tests used need to relate to, and aim to assess, the selection criteria listed in the job description.

Some tests could potentially unfairly discriminate against people with certain disabilities and you are advised to contact the University Staff Disability Adviser with any questions before proceeding with a test. When a test is used, all documentation relating to it must be kept with all other interview notes.

Find out more about various types of selection tests.

Informing candidates

Departments need to inform the shortlisted candidates in advance what type of assessment they will undergo, and whether any preparation may be required. Where selection tests will be used, details should be included in the interview invitation letter. Candidates must always be asked if they have specific requirements regarding access or adaptations to interview/tests to accommodate disabilities.

HR system steps: generate invitation to interview letters/emails and customise with details of any selection tests
(Optional - invitations may be created off-system if preferred)


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Job interviews are conducted to:

  • evaluate candidates’ experience and ability to perform the duties of the post
  • explain to the candidate about working in the University (eg outline the benefits, training provision, the culture of the team/department etc)
  • give the candidate a positive and realistic impression of your department and the University
  • enable the candidate to understand the job and its responsibilities in more detail
  • give the candidate a chance to ask questions about the post, department or the University
  • establish and discuss details such as availability, start dates and terms and conditions; and
  • enable the candidate to decide whether they would like to take the job if offered it

Planning an interview

The key to successful interviewing is thorough preparation. To enable the selection of the right candidate for the job, it is important to conduct a structured interview, which means that:

  • questions are planned in advance of the interview (and relate to the selection criteria)
  • all candidates are asked the same types of questions
  • answers are scored systematically and consistently
  • questions focus on the skills and behaviours required in the job

Focus on collecting information rather than on decision-making to avoid hasty judgements. Interview panels should allow some flexibility to allow candidates to ask any supplementary questions.

Virtual Recruitment

You will need to make some adjustments to the arrangements you would expect in face-to-face interviews.

Please see our Virtual Recruitment guide to learn how to conduct remote interviews successfully.


HR system steps



Assessing candidates

The panel should agree in advance how they will gain evidence of the candidate’s ability to meet the selection criteria, how these will be explored at interview, and how the questions will be divided amongst the panel. Do not introduce new criteria or exclude existing criteria at this stage; adhere to the selection criteria which were advertised and communicated to applicants. Some criteria may be tested more appropriately by means other than interview, eg by a practical test or exercise (see: selection methods).

Please also read the additional guidance on interviews available from the right-hand side menu.

Sample interview record (DOC) for capture of interview notes is recommended.

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Even where all possible personal details are removed from applications, a candidate's employment and educational history may still reveal information about their protected characteristics, such as age, nationality or sex.

All those involved in shortlisting and interviewing must avoid making assumptions about candidates on the basis of any protected characteristics, for example, that:

  • an older candidate may not be in touch with the latest thinking on a particular subject
  • a younger candidate would not have the skills-based competency to persuade and influence others
  • a candidate with a declared disability will be unable to undertake particular duties
  • gender, age or sexual orientation are indicators that a candidate is more or less likely to take family leave
  • a candidate with a disability, or of a particular age, racial background, gender or sexual orientation would not 'fit in' with the 'culture' of the work place
  • a foreign national candidate would be unable to get a work visa

Interviewers must avoid asking candidates questions relating directly or indirectly to protected characteristics.

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Employment of relatives


Candidates for vacancies applying through the e-recruitment system are required to declare whether they are “known to any member of the University who is connected in any way with this post” and, if so, to give details.  Recruitment panel members should also be asked to declare any conflict of interest such as would arise should a candidate be a relative or partner.

When it is known, by this or any other route,  that a relative or partner of an existing member of staff in the department is a candidate for a job in that department, Council guidance and the Conflict of interest policy apply. In such cases, the related member of staff should not be a member of the selection panel. Where this is not possible, at least one additional independent member of staff should be included on the panel. The potential conflict of interest should be acknowledged and managed according to the Conflict of interest policy.

A note should be sent to the Director of Human Resources confirming that these procedures have been followed, and an acknowledgement received before the offer of the post is made.

The closeness of the relationship requiring the above guidelines to be followed is a matter for local determination taking into account whether the degree of interest between the related members of staff is such that questions of bias could arise. In cases of doubt follow the guidelines above.

In unusual circumstances, such as the sudden absence of a key member of staff, it is recognised that the above guidelines might not be immediately appropriate and the short-term employment of an individual who is already known to the department and may be related to an existing member of staff might be the most effective solution to that difficulty. Such arrangements should be of a limited duration, ie up to a few weeks only.

Find out more about the Conflict of interest policy

Employment of under 18s

If you suspect that an applicant may be under 18 years old, the following must be noted:

School-leaving age: Strict limits apply to the employment of children under 16 years old. No-one of compulsory school-age may be employed by the University. In England, school leavers must do one of the following until they are 18:

  • stay in full-time education, eg at a college
  • start an apprenticeship or traineeship or
  • work or volunteer (for 20 hours or more a week) while in part-time education or training.

Departments must comply with current legislation. If in doubt, seek advice from the last school attended.

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Job applicants, visitors, and others working within the University are protected by the Equality Act 2010.

External applicants who have concerns can raise these with the recruitment contact for the position.

Existing employees who have applied for a different University post and believe that they have suffered unlawful discrimination or harassment (on account of their protected characteristics) by the University, may raise a complaint under the harassment or grievance procedures as applicable.


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