Loughborough University
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Loughborough University

Human Resources

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Recruitment Guide

This guide provides a lot of information you will find useful when recruiting staff. For further information, please contact a member of the HR team.

Job Sharing

Job-sharing means that the duties and responsibilities of one full-time post are divided voluntarily between two people, with the pay being divided proportionately between the job-sharers. There are various ways in which a full-time post may be divided and the precise arrangements for the job share should be decided to suit the needs of the department and the individuals.

Job-sharing can be a valuable recruitment and retention tool as it is a way of providing some individuals with the opportunity of working who might otherwise be unable to work at all, for example, people with childcare responsibilities or those caring for dependants. It may be of use to older staff who wish to ease into retirement, or to those who wish to study or to pursue other interests. Job-sharing is an accepted way of introducing part-time hours into areas of work which traditionally have been associated with full-time employment.

There is a growing weight of case law accumulating where refusal to allow job-share after return from maternity leave has been found to be indirect discrimination which is unlawful and employers have been penalised accordingly. In addition, the Employment Act (2002) has introduced the right for employees with children under the age of 16 (18 years if the child is disabled) or other dependants (i.e. an adult at the same address) to ask that their employer consider their proposal for flexible working conditions.  Employers who refuse this request will have to provide objective justification for it.

There can be considerable benefits to a department when a job-sharing arrangement is adopted. These include 

  • Reduction in turnover: Job-share can ease labour turnover problems and, as a consequence, the department reduces its costs associated with the recruitment and development of new staff.
  • Retention of skills: Job share means that a department can retain the skills and services of employees which would otherwise be lost when an employee can no longer work full-time. 
  • Wider range to the job: Two people sharing one job are likely to have different areas of specialised skill or knowledge which complement and reinforce one another. 
  • Greater flexibility: It can be an advantage to have two bodies as well as two minds. Job-sharers can be in two places at once and between them can do two jobs or attend two meetings at the same time. 
  • Continuity: Job-sharers are able to deal with domestic visits to the doctor, dentist etc. outside their working hours. If a full-time employee is on holiday, ill or on maternity leave, then the whole job usually stops or a temporary replacement has to be found. Job-sharers ensure that at least half of the job continues and there is the possibility that the remaining sharer may agree to stand in on a paid, full-time basis for a period. 
  • Energy and productivity: Working reduced hours can help to keep people fresh, energetic and creative during their working hours. This can lead to greater job commitment because people are doing what they want, in terms of the hours worked and the aspects of the job which they concentrate on. 
  • A wider employment field: Job-sharing makes it possible to employ talented individuals who do not form part of the full-time labour market and may therefore be of potential use in easing specific skills shortages.

If you wish to advertise for a job share appointment, it should be clearly stated in the advert that job sharing is available for this position. Appointments should then be made on the merits of the applicants. If the successful applicant wishes to job share, and there were no other applicants who were suitable to do the other half of the job, the successful applicant could be appointed on a short term basis, with a view to re-advertising to find a suitable job sharer. If after a second recruitment exercise the vacancy cannot be filled, the job share opportunity should be reconsidered.

Recruitment and Selection Training

The aim of recruitment is to find a suitable pool of people from which an appointment can be made.

The aim of selection is to choose from the shortlisted candidates the one who best fits the requirements of the post and is likely to succeed in a particular job. This selection will be more successful if it is based on a systematic approach which is fair, unbiased and objective, rather than on a hunch or "gut feeling". A good selection process provides the opportunity to ensure that the best candidate is appointed and:

  • For selectors to obtain information about the candidate in order to form an assessment of his/her capabilities
  • For the candidate to find out more about the job, the department and the University
  • To promote a positive image of the University to all applicants.

Mandatory recruitment and selection training has now been introduced for all chairs of selection panels.  Members of staff are not permitted to chair a selection panel until they have attended the course.  A place on the training course should be booked with Staff Development.

It is a requirement for the Chair of a recruitment panel who has not been on the training within the last five years to complete an online refresher course through Staff Development or direct through Learn.

Recruitment and selection training is strongly recommended for all other staff members of selection panels. It is also advised that anyone on the panel who has not attended training in the last five years completes this online refresher.

Approval of Post/Staffing Request Forms (SEAF)

Certain positions within the University need to be approved before they can be advertised.

 If a vacancy needs approval by Operations Committee see the Staff Expenditure Approval Procedures.

The only positions which do not require approval by Operations Committee are as listed below. In these cases, Human Resources will undertake an appropriate funding check with the Research Finance Office prior to advertising or appointment:

  • Positions in the Research job family in academic departments which are funded from 'J' and ‘S’ codes
  • Temporary replacements to cover maternity leave which are to be funded from the Maternity Relief Fund
  • Casual work for less than 8 weeks
  • Contracts for University Teachers
  • Externally funded positions in the Research job family
  • Grade 1 to 5 staff, including those employed in Research Institutes and Centres

Job Evaluation / Grading of Post

If the vacancy is a new position, or if the duties and responsibilities have changed significantly from when the role was last evaluated, the grade of the post will need to be evaluated before it can be advertised.

A completed job description and person specification should be sent to the relevant HR Officer. The relevant HR Officer will arrange for the post to be evaluated either by a job evaluation panel or virtually to determine the appropriate grade and job family.

The HR Officer will report back to the recruiting manager, who will then be able to prepare the advertisement.

Advertising / Redeployment

As part of the University’s ongoing commitment to redeployment (see Redeployment Policy‌), all vacancies may be withdrawn at any stage of the recruitment process if a suitable redeployee is identified. All vacancies will be posted on the University’s Redeployment webpage three working days prior to the advertisement being published and removed on the closing date.  If a suitable redeployee is identified during the three day period advertising will be postponed whilst a potential match is considered.  Priority consideration should still be given to any potential redeployees at any stage during the recruitment process.

Although preferable to do so, vacancies of less than 9 months (including maternity covers) need not be advertised, where the Head of Department has been reassured that a suitable known candidate is available and is the best qualified and experienced to undertake the role given its duration, and that such an engagement does not fall foul of equality and diversity legislation. For example, there may be a PhD student or existing contract researcher becoming available for a research post, or a member of the secretarial staff who can step up into a maternity cover vacancy.

Consideration should, however, be given to the likelihood of such posts being extended beyond 9 months. If an extension is considered likely, the post must be advertised at the outset in accordance with the arrangements for longer-term appointments.

If there is no suitable known candidate for a vacancy of less than 9 months, then that post must be advertised externally.

When an overseas national is identified as the suitable person and requires a Certificate of Sponsorship, compliance with the resident labour market test is necessary.  The requirement is for advertising the post for a minimum of four weeks on jobs.ac.uk and jobcentreplus. 
Vacancies of more than nine months must be advertised both internally and externally (if the appropriate approval has been granted for external advertisement by Operations Committee).  

The University recognises that real practical, financial and qualitative benefits can occur from naming individuals on grants. Obviously naming an individual must be a rational and defensible decision based on objective criteria which relate to the nature of the work required by the funding body and demonstrated in a job description and person specification. These considerations must be made before inviting the individual to contribute to the grant submission. 

If the grant is awarded then that named individual can be appointed without the need for any advertisement unless a Certificate of Sponsorship is required for immigration clearance to be obtained.

Whenever the discretion not to advertise is exercised, care must be taken to ensure that there is no other member of staff who could consider him or herself to be a suitable candidate.

The Head of Department must be aware that individuals with contracts coming to an end may bring a claim against the University if they can demonstrate that they had the necessary skills and were not appropriately considered for a position which has not been advertised.

The relevant HR Adviser must always be consulted before any post is filled without advertising.

Staff applying for a new post at the end of their fixed term contract must have that application taken seriously if they have the necessary skills and experience for that particular role, and, if they meet the selection criteria, they must be interviewed regardless of whether or not the post has been advertised.  Heads of Departments should ensure that staff in their departments who recruit others are aware of this requirement.

When a post is to be advertised, the need for the position must be approved.  New posts will have to be evaluated before advertising and the job description and person specification should be prepared and sent to Human Resources.

Advertisements should be clear, concise, legal and relevant and should reflect fairly the requirements of the job, consistent with the job description and person specification. The advertisement should include:

  • Job title
  • Location of work
  • Salary
  • Key tasks of the job
  • Qualifications and experience required
  • Procedures for applying
  • Point of contact and closing date
  • Interview date if known

An advertisement which will produce the most suitable applicants and which is also cost-effective is obviously desirable. This may mean local advertising for some posts where jobs are likely to be of interest to local residents. The local press consists of 'The Loughborough Echo', 'The Leicester Mercury' and 'The Nottingham Evening Post'.  Advertisements can be placed in the national press and/or appropriate professional journals for more senior positions where a national or international field would be more likely to yield a suitable candidate.  Jobs should also be advertised through Human Resources over the Internet on "jobs.ac.uk" which is a widely read and successful site. 

Advertisements should carry a close date of a minimum of 2 weeks after the date of publication in order to ensure that the widest range of possible applicants have the opportunity to respond to the advertisement and wherever possible include an interview date. The recruitment methods you use, including advertising, should be appropriate to the job and represent a genuine attempt to employ a suitably qualified person. For posts which are likely to require the candidate being assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship, the advertisement should be placed for a minimum of 4 weeks for compliance with the resident labour market test.  If these conditions are not met then we will be unable to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship, should one be necessary, and it will be necessary to carry out another recruitment exercise. 

Human Resources staff can provide advice regarding the content of advertisements should further guidance be required.

 

Job Description

‌ Before a post is advertised it is of fundamental importance that a job description is carefully prepared which accurately identifies the key duties and responsibilities to be undertaken. Where a job has to be approved before it can be advertised, a job description needs to be drawn up and presented as part of the case. 

Job descriptions should be written in clear, straightforward and gender-free language and should avoid gender stereotyping of jobs. 

It is advisable to present this information in a standard format and a generic Job Description Form‌ is available.

The job description should show the designation, grade and the department of the post. The main areas to include are:

  • Job purpose: To accurately reflect the nature of the job.
  • Duties: This should not merely list tasks, but should emphasise the objectives of the job. The purpose of each duty should be clearly defined and specific terms should be used. Vague expressions such as 'administration' should be avoided. Whilst the duties section should be specific it should not be too prescriptive or restrictive. The nature of the duties will vary over time without affecting the overall job purpose, therefore the job description should allow for flexibility of approach. The job description should not emphasise aspects of the job which may discourage certain groups of applicants when, in reality, such aspects are of minor importance nor should it contain words that imply that most of the people currently doing the job are predominantly of one particular gender.
  • Special conditions: This section should be used to identify aspects of the job which can be regarded as unusual, such as non-standard working hours, restrictions on holiday, call-out liability etc.
  • Organisational responsibility: This section identifies the functional relationships of the post showing who the member of staff is responsible to and at what level, as well as the number and type of staff that they in turn will supervise.

The job description should be made available to all applicants through the recruitment process.

Person Specification

The next stage is to identify the critical attributes required in a candidate if he/she is to be capable of carrying out the duties outlined in the job description. This is best achieved by compiling a person specification. The criteria contained in this person specification should be strictly relevant to the requirements of the job and must be clearly justifiable in terms of the ability to perform the duties of that job. 

The following plan allows the selector to specify the levels of experience, qualification, skills and abilities necessary for the post which are essential, followed by any additional desirable criteria as indicated by the job description:- 

  • Experience: Define the work experience it is necessary for a person to have before the job in question can be performed.  Specifying an arbitrary number of years experience is not acceptable as it is potentially discriminatory and it is the quality and range of experience which is more important than the length of experience.
  • Skills and abilities: Define the practical skills and abilities that are required to perform the job. For example, interpersonal and organisational skills would be important for a senior secretary's post. Be as specific as you can. For example, ‘Good computer skills’ does not really define what actual skills are required, whereas ‘Computer skills sufficient to be able to produce complex documents and statistics’ is much easier to define and measure. 
  • Qualifications: State the minimum educational or vocational qualification required.
  • Training: Outline the practical training which the post holder will have to complete in order to undertake the job satisfactorily.
  • Other: This section will indicate particular characteristics the post holder should possess to carry out the duties of the position. For some jobs, such as kitchen porters or library assistants, there will be specific requirements such as lifting and carrying heavy weights. Specify the attributes necessary to fulfil such obligations but do not assume that this disqualifies women or people with disabilities. The University also has a policy that in all person specifications, the following requirement should be classed as essential: ‘To observe the University’s Equal Opportunities policy at all times’.

Essential criteria are those criteria that an applicant must possess to be able to do the job. If someone applies for a job, but doesn’t have one of the essential criteria on the person specification, they should not be shortlisted for interview. This demonstrates the importance of compiling an accurate person specification. Desirable criteria are those criteria which would be advantageous, but are not critical to the post.

Special care must be taken to ensure that:

  • Criteria such as gender or age are not used either unlawfully or contrary to the University's equal opportunities policy.
  • Personal criteria, for example, attendance at a particular university, or geographical area, should not be established as essential or desirable criteria for the job.
  • Specific qualifications and experience should not be included unless they are necessary to perform the job.
  • All requirements in a person specification should be fair, relevant and measurable.The person specification should be available to all applicants during the recruitment process.
  • The person specification should be used for the shortlisting, interview and selection stages of the recruitment process.

A Person Specification is available to help you.

Shortlisting

Shortlisting is the process by which selectors match the information given on the application form with the requirements of the job, using the agreed job description and person specification. 

The shortlisting exercise must be carried out as soon as possible after the closing date and should be undertaken by at least two people and these should be the same people with regard to all applicants to ensure consistency in the process.  It is IMPORTANT to ensure at the shortlisting stage that consideration is given to the Disability Confident information contained in the Additional Information sheet at the end of the application form.  It is essential that any applicant who has ticked the box to declare a disability is granted an interview if they meet all the essential criteria.  It is imperative that, if challenged, justification and reasons can be given why an applicant who has made such a declaration has not been shortlisted.

Use of a shortlisting matrix will simplify the shortlisting task and should facilitate an objective review of each application (see sample Shortlisting Matrix). The headings on the matrix should be taken from the essential and desirable criteria on the person specification, and consideration should be given to each candidate against these criteria.  Applicants should demonstrate that they meet at least the essential criteria to be assessed at application stage. Simply stating ‘I have excellent IT skills’ is not sufficient and an applicant would be expected to explain what IT skills they have. The same criteria should be applied to all applicants. This means that if one person is not shortlisted because they do not meet one of the essential criteria, all other applicants who also do not have that essential criteria must not be shortlisted. 

The selectors should not impose an arbitrary limit on the shortlist but should have regard as to whether or not candidates meet the essential criteria for the post. Where a large number of candidates meet the essential criteria, the desirable criteria may be applied to reduce the interview field to a manageable number. Similarly candidates should not be shortlisted for interview to "make up the numbers"; they should only be invited if they meet the criteria for the post. There should be no artificial restrictions on the number of applicants from any minority group when shortlisting. The adoption of quotas is an unlawful practice. 

If after shortlisting using the essential and desirable criteria, the shortlisted pool is still too large to interview, it may be necessary to conduct some tests or conduct some preliminary informal interviews in order to reduce the pool of candidates.  Section 16 gives details on how to use tests in selection.  If there are a number of overseas candidates, it may be useful to conduct preliminary telephone or Skype interviews in the first instance. 

Specific reasons for non-selection associated with the person specification must be recorded for each candidate. The shortlisting matrix will quickly show where an applicant did not meet the person specification and will justify why the candidate was not shortlisted, in case of an applicant ever challenging this decision. 

Wherever possible it is desirable for shortlisted applicants for senior posts to visit the University before the formal interview to enable:

  • The candidate to see the department and the University
  • The candidate to receive further information about the job and the department
  • The candidate to meet other members of staff

However, the purpose of this visit should be made clear to all of those involved, including the candidate. If the informal visit is intended to be part of the selection process then the good practice outlined in this guide should be adhered to at all stages of that process.

 

References

Recruiting managers or their nominees will now have sole responsibility for obtaining a reference(s) at the appropriate point during the recruitment process.  Prior to seeking telephone or email references referees should be sent an email containing the link to the job description and person specification for their information and assistance. This will enable informed comments and opinions to be provided about the candidate's ability to perform the duties of the job in question. More relevant detail can be obtained from referees if specific questions are asked concerning a candidate's ability to carry out the job. If specific questions are not asked then caution should be exercised in accepting references at face value.

Provision of Referees

  • All applicants for Grade 1-5 jobs at Loughborough University must provide the names of two referees one of whom must be their current or most recent direct line manager. All applicants for Grade 6 and above must provide the names of three referees one of whom must be their current or most recent direct line manager. Applicants cannot provide alternative managers as referees unless their current or most current line manager is no longer contactable.
  • Applicants can choose to indicate whether their referees can be contacted prior to interview and their wish for confidentiality will be respected.
  • For posts involving configuration, development or management of corporate IT systems or carrying out other work that requires privileged access to applications and data applicants must provide details of referees including their current line manager covering the three years prior to their application to a post at the University.
  • For posts involving a requirement for working with under 18s and/or vulnerable people and requiring DBS clearance, written references will be sought  and considered from all referees prior to confirming the contract.
  • Where applicants have gaps in their employment history the information provided to applicants will indicate that they should explain all gaps in their application and provide relevant referees where possible for employment prior and post the gap. 

Following up on Referees

  • A formal contract of employment will normally only be requested from HR once a reference from the current employer has been secured – verbal references are encouraged to speed up the process.
  • Contracts of employment subject to references/checks will normally only be issued where obtaining references and checks is likely to be an extended process and where this may compromise the preferred candidate accepting the position.
  • Written references and notes of the verbal reference must be retained and loaded into iTrent as attachments.
  • A contract for posts requiring written references and/or checks will only by issued by HR once satisfactory written references and/or reports of checks are received.

Academic Posts

  • For Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader and Professorial vacancies references will normally be collected prior to interview by the Recruiting Manager by email using templates and guidance which will be provided. Candidates may indicate that they do not wish references to be collected in advance of interview and this request will be respected.

Professional Services and Other Posts

  • Recruiting managers can choose whether they wish to seek references prior to interview from applicants who have given permission for contact to be made.
  • However, for jobs other than those listed below the usual practice will be to only seek references for the preferred candidate following interview and informal offer. When making the informal offer the Recruiting Manager will advise the preferred candidate that references will now be sought (giving them time to inform referees if this is requested). This will be sought by the Recruiting Manager (or, if appropriate and different, the chair of the interview panel) where a verbal reference is sought. Where a written reference is to be sought the recruiting manager or chair of the interview panel may delegate the action to an administrator.
  • In most cases a single satisfactory reference from the current employer will suffice provided that it is informative and positive. References may also be sought by email or by telephone whichever is preferred. Email templates and guidance scripts for telephone collection of references will be available.
  • If further references are needed due to the lack of detail or if there is uncertainty relating to the suitability of the preferred candidate, further references will be sought and advice should be obtained from the HR Adviser. 

Posts Involving Access to Money or Involvement with Young or Vulnerable People

  • All employers provided covering the last three years of employment will be contacted to ascertain the suitability of the preferred candidate for a job where there is potential for exposure of the University to financial risk. References will be sought in writing.
  • All referees will be contacted with a request for a reference in writing for prospective employees applying for posts where DBS checks are required.
  • References will normally be taken up following interview for the preferred candidate.

References are covered by Data Protection legislation and the candidate has the right to ask the University for a copy of the references they have received from their referees. In these instances, the University will seek permission from the referees prior to releasing details of the references to the candidate.

 

•All applicants for Grade 1-5 jobs must provide the names of two referees one of whom must be their current or most recent direct line manager. All applicants for Grade 6 and above must provide the names of three referees one of whom must be their current or most recent direct line manager. Applicants cannot provide alternative managers as referees unless their current or most current line manager is no longer contactable.

Interviews

Selection Tests

Tests can be used as part of the selection process to assist with the decision making process. It is not always possible to test whether an applicant meets certain essential criteria from the application form and interview alone. A good example of this is where a candidate is required to have a certain level of competence at typing or word processing to be able to do the job. The candidate may state in the application form that they can type well and may back this up at interview, but we cannot be really sure that they type at the required level without actually testing them. A simple typing test will identify whether the candidate meets this skill.

Similarly formal presentation skills can only be measured to a certain point at interview, and asking candidates to complete a short presentation will give the recruiters a better assessment of the candidates’ competence in this area.

Other tests include:

  • Written tests: to measure written skills (e.g. grammar, ability to write reports/letters etc. These can also be used to measure a candidate’s knowledge of an area related to the job
  • Case studies:  to measure how candidates will react to certain situations, e.g. financial interpretation tests for Finance staff, how to react to specific difficult scenarios for HR staff, Counselling staff etc, drawing up training events for Staff Development staff etc
  • Personality tests: to measure for specific personality traits
  • Ability tests: to measure specific abilities, such as verbal and numerical comprehension
  • Group exercises: to measure interpersonal skills, leadership skills and so on
  • Skills tests: to measure specific skills required for the job, e.g. typing tests for clerical staff, operating certain machinery for manual staff etc
  • Presentations: to measure an applicant’s oral communication and presentation skills. A presentation can also be used to assess a candidate’s knowledge of an area related to the job

For some jobs, particularly more senior positions, it may be worthwhile running an ‘Assessment Centre’. This consists of several different types of tests from the selection above, to give an all round assessment of the candidates. 

If you are considering using a test, you must ensure that the person specification has indicated that the skills you wish to measure in the test are essential to the job. You must also be able to justify the relevance of administering a test, eg it would not be appropriate (and potentially discriminatory) to ask candidates to give a presentation as part of the assessment process unless giving presentations formed a key part of the role being recruited.  Human Resources can offer advice on using tests and should be consulted if you are considering applying tests to candidates. 

 

Invitation to Interview Letters

Invitation to interview letters should be sent out to candidates in plenty of time to enable them to prepare for the interview. Ideally local candidates should be given at least a week’s notice. National and overseas candidates should be given adequate notice to prepare travel arrangements.  The preferred method of communication is via e-mail. 

The content should make clear the time and venue of the interview, where to report to and any special instructions such as the need to prepare a presentation or if any additional task/test will be given at the interview.  Details of any tests or presentations should be included when submitting any request for interview arrangements to Human Resources.

Human Resources will include the following text in all invitations for interview “If you have a disability or additional needs and require special arrangements making for the interview, please let me know so that appropriate measures can be put in place".


The Panel - Pre-Interview Preparation

The membership of appointment committees is set out in the Appointment Committees Code of Practice.

For all other posts the interview panel should comprise at least two people. The advantages of a panel interview are that subjectivity and bias can be reduced and further expertise can be introduced into the questioning. Try to avoid an all-white or a single-sex panel wherever possible. However, do not make use of people in a token capacity, use their skills and experiences as selectors efficiently. 

Before the interview takes place all members of the interview panel should receive:

  • An interview timetable (the interview should be of equal length for all candidates)
  • A copy of the advertisement and further particulars
  • The job description and person specification
  • A copy of the applications
  • Copies of any references received

 

Venue

Obviously the room booked for interviews should be free from distractions and interruptions, and some thought should be given to the physical layout so that the candidate feels comfortable. The room should be accessible for candidates with a mobility disability.

 

The Chairperson

A Chairperson should be agreed who will facilitate the interview. The Chairperson will keep the proceedings under control and ensure fair play for the candidate and the interviewers by taking responsibility for:

  • Ensuring that all panel members are properly prepared
  • Introducing the panel
  • Explaining the interview structure, including the fact that the panel will be making notes during the process
  • Explaining when the candidate can ask questions
  • Moving the questioning on and providing links between panel members
  • Keeping the interviews to time. It is important to try to keep to schedule, however interviews invariably take longer than expected so do allow sufficient time for each candidate. Extended interviews are often counter-productive for both the candidate and the panel.
  • Dealing with any problems or inappropriate questions
  • Closing the interview and explaining the next stage
  • Chairing the discussion in the decision-making process and ensuring that only relevant, justified points are considered and that these are supported by evidence
  • Advising all interviewees of the outcome of their application ideally by phone asap after the interviews.

The Interview Structure

The selection panel should meet in advance of the interview to familiarise themselves again with the requirements of the post and with the candidates' application forms and this meeting may be scheduled just prior to the interview itself.

The panel should plan an interview structure which is clear to both the interviewers and the candidate. This should include sufficient time at the start of the interview to put the candidate at ease and to establish a rapport, followed by a period acquiring information from the candidate through questioning. It is important during the planning process to clarify the roles of each panel member, with the question areas being divided up according to the expertise of the selectors on the panel. Some specific sample questions should be agreed.


The questions that are to be asked must be related to the job requirements. Certain common questions will have been agreed beforehand, but each candidate will have different skills, abilities and experiences and will need probing on different areas. Candidates must not be asked questions about their personal lives, family commitments or domestic obligations.


The interview should then be focused on supplying information to the candidate about the University and the department, discussing expectations about the job and answering any queries which the candidate may have. Finally, the Chairperson will conclude the interview with details of what will happen next in the process.


Interview Skills

Candidates perform best at interview if they are able to relax and respond freely to questions, rather than being put under undue pressure. The following guidance is relevant to all interviews:

  • Be relaxed and friendly in approach in order to encourage the candidate to feel relaxed and to be more open
  • Cover all aspects of the candidate's application in relation to the post, identifying any particularly interesting points or discrepancies
  • Allow the candidate to do most of the talking during the interview, avoiding interruptions
  • Ensure that the candidate is aware of the specific requirements of the job
  • Identify any misconceptions which the candidate may have about the job and rectify these
  • From time to time, check that you have understood the candidate by re-interpreting their statements and gaining confirmation
  • Give verbal and non-verbal encouragement. It is important to let candidates know that all panel members are paying attention to them throughout the whole interview, even when they are not asking any questions. It is bad practice for interviewers to sit stony-faced or unresponsive, worse still for them to be staring out of a window or engaged in other work during an interview
  • Listen to what the candidate is saying. Much information will be provided during the interview which the panel will need to recall during the decision-making process
  • Note what the candidate says and what he/she does not or cannot say. These notes should reflect the facts and information relevant to the post, rather than subjective impressions or evaluative words.

The panel should ensure that their questions relate to the agreed criteria for the post:

  • Open questions are useful as a means of gaining the most information from candidates as they are designed to encourage the candidate to talk, to provide facts, to describe events and to express opinions. Such questions are usually prefaced by "What, When, How, Who or Where" and allow the interviewee to give a more considered and substantial reply.
  • Probing questions should be used to provide a clearer focus on answers that are too short or too vague.
  • Sometimes rather than being too vague, the candidate will be too verbose or will have strayed from the point. This is a difficult situation and should be retrieved tactfully rather than destroying the rapport with the candidate; for example, a comment such as "I was most interested in your original comment..." Or "Thank you for that, but I would rather we now concentrate on..."
  • Avoid closed questions which generally require a "Yes" or "No" answer e.g. "Do you like dealing with the public?" "Do you know which are the most prestigious journals to be published in?" Whilst some closed questions may have to be asked, the panel should try to ensure that the majority of questions are open ones.
  • Avoid multiple-headed questions where two or more questions are asked at once e.g. "What is it that interests you about this post, why do you want to leave your current post and what are your future career expectations?" Candidates will either answer only the part which they want to or are able to, or they might become confused and forget parts of the question. Remember interviews are stressful so it is better to ask one question at a time.
  • Avoid leading questions where the answer expected is given away in the question itself e.g. "How accurate do you think you are?" or "This job requires someone with good interpersonal skills and initiative -how do you think you measure up to these requirements?" Such questions should be avoided as the panel does not gain from the response and is playing into the hands of a good talker or the individual with more interview experience.
  • Similarly, self-assessment questions such as "What makes you think you are the best candidate for this job?" should be avoided. Such questions are difficult to answer satisfactorily and are of little value in assessing the candidate against the person specification. Again they tend to favour a more experienced interviewee and may be to the detriment of a more modest candidate.
  • Avoid hypothetical questions where a situation is described and the candidate is asked what they would do in those circumstances. These types of question are best avoided as what an individual says they will do in such a situation may bear little resemblance to their behaviour in reality. It is better practice to allow the candidate to draw on their own experiences e.g. "Out of your past experience, what would you extract which would help in the administration of the department which would be truly innovative?" Or "How have you handled a situation in which somebody is not performing to the level required of them?

 

Selection

Decision-Making

A structured approach is needed to make sense of all of the information which has been gathered. The criteria previously agreed (the person specification) should be used as a basis for decision-making. The panel should compare the notes they made in the interviews against the essential criteria and use these to see how the candidates measure up to the skills/qualifications and experiences necessary. The main issues should be highlighted to ensure that the professional needs of the post are balanced against the ability of the candidates to do the job effectively. In making the choice of who should be appointed the successful candidate usually emerges as a result of consensus and it is hoped that unanimous agreement can be reached. Where this is not possible, then a vote can be taken. (The Chairperson should be mindful of the impact of inter-personal power relations amongst the interview panel and the effect this may have on the selection decisions made.)


The panel need to be clear about why people were not selected, and must make notes about their decisions. Selectors should not rely on "gut feeling" as there is a danger of unconscious discriminatory assumptions creeping into the decision-making process. Simply relying on whether the candidate will "fit in" may lead to discrimination in the decision-making process and recently several organisations have fallen foul of Employment Tribunals by using this as their defence.


It may be that the panel does not find a suitable candidate after the interviews have been carried out and whilst this may be disappointing or frustrating, it is better in the long-term not to appoint, rather than to appoint an unsuitable candidate.


Record Keeping

It is advisable to keep all the original documentation relating to the recruitment and selection process for a period of twelve months after the appointment has been made. This should include the application forms, a copy of the job advertisement, job description and person specification as well as the details of shortlisting, the interview notes of all the panel and the reasons for selection/non-selection. These are a vital record of exactly what happened and could be needed either to give constructive feedback to candidates who request it and/or to provide as evidence to an Employment Tribunal. Employment Tribunals take a particularly dim view of employers who are unable to produce notes on the discussions as to which of the candidates they preferred and the evidence for this decision.   Shortlisting and interview notes should be sent to Human Resources once an appointment has been made.  These will be stored by HR for a 12 month period.


If a complaint of discrimination is upheld at an Employment Tribunal, panel members have a personal responsibility and there could be financial penalties, for the University, the department and, exceptionally, for the individual. Departments are therefore advised to take advantage of the information in this guide and of appropriate training courses offered through Human Resources and Staff Development.

Post-Interview Procedures

Notification

Once a decision has been made, the successful candidate should be informed verbally of the recommendations of the interview panel by the Chair. Confirmation of the appointment will be given in a formal offer letter, issued by Human Resources. Unsuccessful candidates should also be informed promptly by the Chair, or another member of the interview panel preferably by telephone.  The HR Recruitment Team will however send candidates written confirmation on due course of the result of the interview. For unsuccessful internal candidates it is good practice to offer an effective debriefing session on their performance.


Induction

All new members of staff will be expected to attend the 'Welcome to Loughborough' induction half day course which will give them the opportunity to meet senior staff and over new starters but will also need an induction to their School/Department which should be planned and thorough. It will be most beneficial if it is tailored to the needs of the individual. It should aim to familiarise the new employee with the University processes, the Department and the full extent of their role, whilst also giving them confidence and the necessary information to succeed. There is a legal obligation on employers to provide specific information to new employees with regard to health and safety issues. 

Thought should be given as to whether it would be helpful to the new employee for a mentor to be appointed to guide them through this induction period. 

Further information regarding induction can also be found on the New Staff website.


Probation


When appointments are subject to probation the new employee should be given the following details:

  • The length of the probationary period
  • The purpose of the probationary period
  • Details of how the probation will be reviewed and the standards expected
  • The name and contact details of their probation adviser

Training and Performance & Development Reviews


The training and development needs of members of staff should be reviewed on a regular basis, in the light of the needs of the individual and the Department's own operational plan. It is the University's policy for a formal, annual Performance and Development Review for each member of staff to be undertaken.

 

 

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