Human Resources

Staff Recruitment and Selection

Manager's Guide (printer friendly version)


The Recruitment Panel

The aim of the Recruitment Panel is to select the right person, with the right skills, to fill the requirements identified in a vacant job, in accordance with the Recruitment and Selection Procedures.  

To minimise the risk of natural personal bias, shortlisting and interviewing should not be undertaken by one individual. The panel will normally consist of the Chair, relevant department representative(s), the role's immediate line manager and where necessary panel members external to the department or the University. A Human Resources representative, when appropriate, will also attend as a panel member.

Consider the size of the panel. Ordinarily, up to 4 panel members is considered to be sufficient for the majority of the University’s recruitment. There is not a definitive ideal size but the Chair should consider balancing the number of panel members to achieve an effective interview. From the candidate perspective, getting the panel size right is crucial:  

Too few

Too Many

  • Insufficient expertise to satisfactorily answer all candidate questions.
  • Candidate perceives NTU as disinterested in the vacancy
  • Disjointed interview, too many questions from too many people
  • Overwhelming
  • Intimidating
  • Lacks focus/looks disorganised


Determining panel size
  • Who needs to be involved in the recruitment decision?
  • Who needs to be at interview to provide relevant information about the job and be able to answer candidate questions?
  • Can other interested parties meet the candidates outside the formal interview?

The Head of Department or Academic Team Leader will designate a Chair of the Recruitment Panel.

The role of the Panel Chair

The Chair of the panel (and all panel members) should be competent in making selection decisions and have undertaken Recruitment and Selection training where appropriate prior to undertaking this role.  

It is the responsibility of the chair of the panel to ensure the selection process is fair to all candidates, all candidates are given the opportunity to convey their potential contribution to the vacancy and to ensure the right person for the job is appointed. This will be achieved if the University’s Recruitment and Selection process is followed. They are also responsible for ensuring the candidate’s perception of the University and their experience of our recruitment and selection process is professional, accurate, positive and maximised at every opportunity.  

This guide goes on to give detail on the selection panel and process, but in summary the role of the panel chair is to:  

  • Appoint the panel members
  • Ensure that all panel members are competent and familiar with the selection process and have all the relevant documents e.g. Job Description, Person Specification, Application Forms in advance of the selection meetings and provide appropriate support if required
  • Set up and manage a meeting to determine selection criteria and shortlist the candidates
  • Agree interview arrangements including date, times, questions and interview structure with the other panel members
  • Manage the interviews and any other selection processes used
  • Authorise interview expense claims for candidates and pass to finance
  • Agree the successful candidate for the vacancy with the panel members
  • Make a verbal offer to the successful candidate
  • Verbally advise unsuccessful candidates and provide feedback where requested
  • Collect and retain all the interview notes from panel members immediately after the interview
  • Fully complete all paperwork required for the selection process eg Shortlist Assessment Form, Interview Arrangements, Interview Assessment Form
  • Take an active role in the induction of the appointee

Note taking

Panel members need to work together to take notes. In addition to each panel member taking their own notes, they should arrange for another panel member to take detailed notes whilst they are asking questions. This enables precise notes of the candidate’s response to each question.

The notes should capture what the candidate has said, but not be a judgement on what was said at this stage. These notes will be used to enable the panel to reach a judgement following all the selection processes.

Remember that even a very good candidate is likely to be less strong in some areas than in others. Make sure that the overall conclusion reached is based on the evidence captured

Confidential Information

All information obtained during the selection process must be treated as confidential by the recruitment panel. This is essential for applicants to have confidence in the system to which they are entrusting their future career.  

The information a candidate provides on an application form is highly personal and must not be divulged to people who are not legitimately involved in the recruitment and selection process.  

Information may, however, be required by either statutory agencies or an employment tribunal investigating a complaint of discrimination. In these circumstances the University may be required to release certain details.  

If any personal information is subsequently stored on computer files, the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998 must be met.  

External Panel Members

For some roles, expertise may be required on the panel that is not held by University employees, or an independent perspective may be necessary. It may therefore be appropriate for a panel member to be external to Nottingham Trent University.  

It is common practice for a fee to be paid to external panel members. The University’s policy on these fees is as follows:  

  • For individuals employed at other Universities, no fee will be paid but reasonable expenses will be met  
  • For individuals employed in other sectors, a fee of £150 per day will be paid, plus reasonable expenses will be met


On receipt of applications within HR, the responses are logged for evaluation of the marketing processes. Equal Opportunities Forms are removed and passed to the Diversity Development Co-ordinator (DDC) for equal opportunities monitoring. If any of the applicants are identified as disabled, the DDC will copy and censor (removing confidential information) the Equal Opportunities Form and pass it to the Recruitment and Selection Administrator.  

The shortlisting process identifies which applicants meet the essential requirements of the post defined in the Person Specification to produce a manageable number of people to go forward to the next stage of the selection process.  

The Vacancy Folder is sent to the Recruitment Panel Chair following the closing date for the vacancy. The folder contains:  

  • All the Applications Forms received
  • Job Description
  • Person Specification
  • Advertisement
  • Shortlist Assessment Form
  • Interview Agenda Form  

The recruitment panel completes the short-listing process. It must not be undertaken by one individual and must involve as many of the panel as possible, ideally involving all panel members.  

How to shortlist  

1. When shortlisting, all application forms must be compared with the essential criteria specified in the Person Specification. Each panel member should look at each application form separately and draw up his or her own shortlist, then discuss together as a group:

  • If each panel member fails to shortlist a candidate, then reject that candidate
  • Sifters then debate the merits of all the remaining candidates until they reach a consensus over the shortlist  

2. To ensure the University can supply feedback to unsuccessful applicants and protect ourselves from potential discrimination claims, reasons why applicants have been selected and rejected must be recorded at each stage of the selection process. The Shortlist Assessment Form should be completed at this stage to provide the required record. The form provides the opportunity to show:  

  • Decisions are fully reasoned and made on the basis of the information on the application forms
  • There is a complete record of the reasons for each decision  

Experience shows how important this sort of hard evidence is in successfully defending unfounded discrimination claims  

3. The criteria used for short listing must be job-related and applied consistently to all applicants. Those involved in short listing should take care to ensure that short-listing decisions are based only on the information contained in the application form and any other supplementary information provided.  

4. Applicants must not be given priority over other candidates or be rejected on the basis that they possess a higher qualification than required on the Person Specification.

5. Those involved in short listing must not impose arbitrary methods of rejecting numbers of candidates purely to create a manageable shortlist. If having compared all application forms with the essential and desirable criteria of the Person Specification, the shortlist still contains an impractical number of applicants the Chair of the Panel must contact their Human Resources Manager for advice.

6. The Chair of the Recruitment Panel is responsible for ensuring that all shortlisting notes are gathered together from the panel and attached to the completed Shortlist Assessment form

7. On completion of the shortlist, the Recruitment Panel will also determine the interview programme. The Chair of the panel should then complete the Interview Agenda form, giving a clear indication of any additional requirements, e.g. presentation, psychometric assessment (following consultation with HR). The completed form should then be returned to the Recruitment and Selection Administrator at least 10 working days before the date of the interview, with the Shortlist Assessment form and all the application forms and enclosures.  

Shortlisting in this way will enable your approach to be more consistent and less subjective than it would be if you were simply selecting on the basis of a ‘gut feeling’. This also provides a basis for systematically recording why candidates have been accepted or rejected for the next stage of the selection process.

Disability Interview Guarantee


The University uses the disability symbol (above), which, for recruitment and selection, means we have committed to interview all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for a job vacancy and consider them on their abilities.  

Following shortlisting, the Recruitment and Selection Administrator will check that the shortlisted candidates include any disabled candidate previously advised by DDC that meets the Person Specification essential criteria, and invite them to attend interview.  

Arranging Interviews

On receipt of all the relevant documentation following shortlisting, the Recruitment and Selection Administrator will invite the short listed applicants for interview. Candidates will be informed at this stage if they will be expected to undertake selection activities in addition to the panel interview e.g. presentation, psychometric assessment.  

Where a candidate has special requirements in relation to the selection process, the Recruitment and Selection Administrator will also make the appropriate arrangements in conjunction with the employing department.  

Overseas Candidates

Whilst UK expenses incured are paid to candidates attending interview, it may be more convenient to undertake initial interviews using telephone or video conferencing for overseas candidates. The Recruitment Panel Chair is responsible for exploring this option, and if suitable to the panel and candidate, should make the necessary arrangements.  

Facilities are only available in the ANTE Room, Bass Management Centre. Email NBS BMC to book the room. Costs for a test call and the call on the day will be charged to the recruiting department.  

In addition to the room booking, the video conferencing equipment also needs to be booked via email to SOS AV City. Use this email address to keep the technicians updated on all relevant correspondence with the candidate.  

A test call needs to take place at least 1 week before the interview via video conference, to ensure a secure and correct connection.  

Information required from candidates:  

  • Digital Transmission Line Number (ISDN)
  • Direct International Line Number - analogue number
  • Email address of the technicians abroad
  • In the case of telephone conference, the candidate's preferred contact telephone number

Giving feedback

At any stage after the interview shortlist has been drawn up, applicants may wish to know why their application has been unsuccessful – this is where the Panel Chair or HR will refer to the Shortlist Assessment Form where full notes of the panel's decision making will have been made. Giving this kind of feedback must be balanced and handled sensitively. Chairs of panels may obtain advice concerning the approach to be taken from Human Resources.  

Remember that a candidate who perceives that he or she has been treated unfairly could make a complaint under Equal Opportunities legislation. If your decision-making and recording procedures have not been scrupulous and thorough, this could be very detrimental for the University and could damage our image as an employer.  

As an organisation, we are expected to safeguard our interests by selecting only those candidates who are most suitable for advertised vacancies. However, we must also ensure that all applicants are treated fairly, and all decision-making is entirely based on the grounds of candidates’ abilities, experience and skills, which are strictly and demonstrably related to being able to perform the job effectively.


On receipt of the Shortlist Assessment Form, Human Resources will write to the referees of each short-listed candidate, unless the candidate has specified that they do not wish their current employer to be contacted at this stage.  

Employment and personal references are normally sought to be available to the Recruitment Panel Chair only at interview, so that when the Recruitment Panel is deciding the best applicant their decision can be informed and supported with references (along with any other selection methods used). Decisions must not be made on the reference information alone, but in conjunction with all selection methods and are therefore not to be copied to or shared with panel members prior to the interview process.  

Unconditional offers of employment (whether oral or written) must not be made until satisfactory references have been received. This may indeed be after a conditional offer (subject to satisfactory references) has been accepted for cases where applicants do not want their current employers contacted.  

Human Resources are responsible for acquiring references and all associated follow-up work. The information contained in a reference is supplied in confidence and must be treated as confidential.  

If there are any issues in a reference which need to be pursued at the interview, it will be the responsibility of the Chair to formulate appropriate question areas which must be asked of all candidates;

For example:

If a reference raises concerns about one candidate’s suitability for working in a team situation, questions relating to experience of team work must be asked of all candidates, with appropriate follow-up questions.

In the majority of cases it will be sufficient for other panel members to know that satisfactory references have been obtained.  

Where a recruitment panel member has been nominated as a referee, they should decline to provide a reference. Selection decisions should be made based only on the information provided to the panel during the selection process so, to be in a position to contribute to an objective decision, an alternative referee should be sought.


The Recruitment and Selection Administrator will provide the interview panel with a Vacancy Folder containing:  

Interview Arrangements Chair’s Notes (salary scale, benefits etc)

  • Job Description
  • Person Specification
  • Job Advertisement
  • Interview Assessment Form
  • Confirmation of Appointment Form  

An interview enables a recruitment panel to ask job related questions in order to reach a decision, and to provide candidates with further information about the job. There must equally be opportunities for candidates to ask questions of the panel.  

Good interviews have trained interviewers and the interview itself is well planned. The Chair of the panel and all panel members should be competent in Recruitment and Selection, having attended appropriate training prior to undertaking this role.  

It is important that the interview, agenda, questions and any assessments used are appropriate, relevant to the post and free from discrimination.  

The appointment must be based on factors determined from the job description and person specification and the following must not be used as determining factors:

  • gender
  • ethnic origin
  • personal circumstances
  • disability  


Well in advance of the interview, the interview questions should be identified. It may be appropriate to use Competency based questions. Consider questioning techniques:

Open questions to encourage the candidate to open up and talk (use frequently) Closed questions to draw conclusions and check understanding (use sparingly)
Tell me about… So you are saying that….
What were your main duties? What I’m hearing is…..
How have you….  

 Interview questions will be made up of core questions and a number of follow up probing questions (further open questions) to find out more about the candidate’s answer.

Probing Question Example  

Core Question

  • Describe an occasion when you have had to implement a strategic change.  

Probing Questions

  • How did you go about planning the change?
  • What were the obstacles?
  • How did you overcome them?
  • How did you engage the stakeholders in the implementation?
  • What was the outcome?

To avoid the risk of sex discrimination claims do not ask personal questions about family, marital status, children etc. 

Agree with the panel members who will ask what questions and how any required follow up questions will be handled i.e. agreement that any member of the panel may contribute.  

Panel Members should prepare for the interview by reviewing all relevant documents prior to interviews, familiarising themselves with the questions to be asked of all candidates and be aware of the venue and schedule of the interviews.  

The Interview

Decide on the seating arrangements and ensure there will be no interruptions once the interviews have commenced.  

The Chair must ensure that the approach to the interview structure and the content is applied consistently to all candidates for a specific post. Having an interview structure such as the one below will assist in achieving consistency:  

  • Thank candidate for attending and introduce all present
  • Explain the interview process and timescales
    • Interview agenda
    • That notes will be taken by panel members
    • The same core questions will be asked of all candidates
  • Candidate to briefly walk through their work experience (familiar subject to put the candidate at ease)
  • Ask the core questions for all applicants
  • Candidate questions
  • Presentation
  • Confirm what happens next – outcome, further selection etc  

If any candidates are eligible for interview expenses, the Chair is responsible for authorising the claim form and for it to be forwarded to finance for reimbursement.

Post interview

If unspent criminal convictions are divulged during the selection process, the detail should be explored by the chair of the panel. They should obtain the facts about the conviction and discuss the appropriate course of action with their Human Resources Manager. Normally, if a conviction does not impact on the role, it would not be used as a deselection reason.

Following the interviews, the Chair is responsible for ensuring that the Interview Assessment is completed and returned to the Recruitment and Selection Administrator, together with the documents in the Vacancy Folder.

Interview Feedback

Unsuccessful applicants may wish to know why their application has been unsuccessful, so you will need to refer to the notes made on the Interview Assessment. Giving this kind of feedback must be balanced and handled sensitively. Chairs of panels may obtain advice concerning the approach to be taken from Human Resources.


Presentations are frequently used as a selection method to demonstrate subject expertise and communication skills. The presentation topic should be relevant to the role, linked to the Job Description and Person Specification achievable for the candidate to prepare in the given timescales.  

To allow the candidate sufficient time to prepare their presentation, invitations to attend should provide a minimum of 10 days notice. Candidates should also be advised of room layout and equipment so they may prepare their presentation appropriately.

Psychometric Assessment  

Psychometric assessments can measure various technical abilities such as numerical and verbal reasoning and provide information on and individual’s personality and motivational style. They are only ever used in conjunction with other selection tools to provide additional information to support a selection decision. They are never used to make selection decisions in isolation.  

To administer and interpret psychometric tests users must be fully qualified and licensed. A number of Human Resources staff are available to advise on the use of, and conduct these tests.    

For further information see Use of psychometric assessments in Nottingham Trent University.

Assessment Centre  

Where a recruitment campaign requires a number of selection methods such as interview, presentation, psychometric assessments, prioritisation exercise etc and there are a number of candidates shortlisted, it may be appropriate to run an assessment centre to progress all applicants at the same time.  

Whilst running an assessment centre is a major administrative task, requiring a number of assessors, it has the advantage of progressing the vacancy quickly, achieving all selection processes on the same day.

If considering running such an event, liaise with your HR Manager to determine its appropriateness and to plan the event.

Making the Selection Decision - Evaluating the Evidence  

Evaluating the evidence collected during interviews and other activities is not as straightforward as it may at first appear, and it can sometimes be hard to maintain an objective position.  

Here are some common pitfalls that you should avoid as you make your assessment decisions:  

  • The tendency to allow powerful first impressions to cloud subsequent judgement. If a candidate is confident it is all too easy to assume that he or she is also intelligent and reliable. Equally, someone who is poorly dressed and nervous may be perceived as lazy and lacking in determination.
  • It is easy to assume that an older person is less able to learn new skills than a younger comparator
  • The ‘halo/horns effect’ – the tendency to let exceptionally good or bad performances in one area affect the evaluation of other areas
  • Giving greater weight to negative information than to positive
  • The ‘primacy effect’ – the tendency to remember more details about the candidates seen first than those seen later on
  • The ‘recency effect’ – the opposite tendency to remember more about later candidates than the ones seen first
  • Being overly influenced by positive body language. (Candidates who make frequent eye contact and smile a lot tend to do better at interviews – irrespective of their suitability for the job).

Rating Scales

To objectively and systematically assess candidates you need to:  

  • Review the evidence provided for each assessed area
  • Award a grade for each assessed area
  • Give an overall rating for the individual’s performance  

You should only award a grade once all the evidence has been collected.  

A possible rating scale to be used is summarised in the table below:

A Above the expected standard of performance. (May have one or two very minor weaknesses but these would be quickly rectified with training/development and experience in the role).
B Acceptable performance. Has one or two weak areas but these could probably be rectified with some training/development and experience in the role.
C Below required standard of performance. Unlikely to improve without significant training and development.
D Very poor. Performance well below required standard.


Your Human Resources Manager will be able to advise you on an appropriate rating scale for a particular role.

Selecting the most suitable candidate

Once you have gathered sufficient information and evaluated each candidate against the assessment criteria, your task of selecting the best candidate should be straightforward.  

The most suitable candidate will be the one who has demonstrated the highest level of performance in the skills which are particularly important in the job being filled. The most important skills will have been documented in the person specification for the role.  

Do not forget that you have several sources of information to help you to decide:  

  • The application form
  • The evidence obtained during the interview, and other selection methods
  • References  

By keeping the basis of the decision-making to pre-set criteria, i.e. the job description and person specification, the risk of bias is considerably reduced. Equally importantly, an objective, consistently-applied process will significantly increase the likelihood of selecting the most suitable person for the job. All paperwork relating to the Vacancy should be passed to the Recruitment and Selection Administrator who will ensure it is all retained in line with legal requirements.  

Remember, unsuccessful candidates and indeed the successful candidate may request feedback on their performance in the selection process so these notes made to evaluate candidates are key to be in a position to provide the facts.