UCL Human Resources


Recruitment and Selection Policy

Foreword by the Provost

Recruiting and selecting the right people is of paramount importance to the continued success of UCL. This Recruitment and Selection Policy sets out how to ensure, as far as possible, that the best people are recruited on merit and that the recruitment process is free from bias and discrimination.

Building on the previous guidelines, the main thematic change relates to monitoring the recruitment process and its outcome. The Equality Act 2010 places a responsibility on organisations to monitor, amongst other things, their recruitment processes to ensure they are not discriminatory. Accordingly, this policy sets out a procedure to enable departments to monitor staff recruitment and to provide information to enable the appropriate committees to monitor recruitment activity across all of UCL.

By following the policy, in addition to fulfilling employment law requirements, UCL will also ensure that it continues to uphold its commitment to equal opportunity.


  1. Introduction
  2. Scope
  3. New Jobs and Job Vacancies
  4. Job Description (details of the role)
  5. Person Specification
  6. Details for Applicant
  7. Publicising the Vacancy
  8. Advertising on UCL's Website and the Internet
  9. Advert Waivers for Professorial Appointments
  10. Processing Applications
  11. Selecting the Interview Panel
  12. Monitoring
  13. Shortlisting
  14. Arrangements for Interviews
  15. Interviewing
  16. Selection Tests and Presentations
  17. Making a Decision after interview
  18. References
  19. Criminal Record Checks
  20. Appointment
  21. Certificates of Sponsorship
  22. Induction and Probation
  23. Salary
  24. Breaches of Policy

 See Equalities Website 

Appendix B (superceded by new job description guidance)

Appendix C Advertising Costs 

Appendix D Sample Shortlisting Forms

Appendix N UCL Standard Information 


Guidance Notes on the Waiving of Adverts



1. This policy is designed to assist you to recruit and select the best candidate for a vacancy. In doing so it also enables you to take account of:

  • UCL's equal opportunities policy (see appendix L)
  • Legislation including the Equality Act 2010,and the Data Protection Act 1998,
  • Advice on good practice from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Commission on University Career Opportunity, the Equality Challenge Unit and Opportunity Now.
  • Requirements for compliance with UK Immigration legislation (see paragraphs 60, 61 and 89-92

See Equalities web site: The law for more information.

2. It is the responsibility of each Head of Department/Division to ensure that this policy is carefully followed within their department/division. All Heads of Departments/Division should make members of their staff aware of the obligation to familiarise themselves with and follow this policy.

3. Advice on any aspect of this policy or procedures allied to it is available from the Human Resources website. A 'Recruitment and Selection Checklist' is also provided in Appendix J of this policy.


4. Appointments must be based on merit. Principles including fairness, credibility and equal employment opportunity underpin recruitment and selection at UCL.


5. Normally appointments must be made in accordance with this policy and must, therefore, be subject to advertisement and interview. Requests to waive the requirement to advertise an appointment in exceptional circumstances may be approved as outlined at paragraphs 49 - 53.

6. Where a grant awarding body approves funding for a named individual to work on a particular piece of research and the grant is dependent on that individual's contribution, advice should be sought from UCL Human Resources in advance of formal appointment. Recruiting managers should refer to the guidance on the Ethics section of the research integrity website regarding the approval processes to undertake academic research. It is important to follow the appropriate ethical approval processes particular to the research, such as research involving human participants, human tissue or data, animal research and the acquisition, storage and disposal of historical artefacts. All ethical issues relating to a research project should be identified and brought to the attention of relevant internal and external approval or regulatory bodies before a position is advertised.

7. When employing temporary or casual staff on a short-term basis the principles of good practice outlined in this policy should be followed. In summary these are that details of a post must be publicised, selection must be on the basis of appropriate criteria and merit, a record of the process and decision must be kept.

8. Financial approval for the establishment of a new post or the filling of a vacancy must be obtained before recruitment commences. Departments should therefore consult with the appropriate section of the Finance Division - Planning & Management Accounts in respect of non-research posts and Research Administration in respect of research posts.

New Jobs and Job Vacancies

9. The occurrence of a vacancy is an opportunity to review the necessity for the post and its duties, responsibilities and grade.

10. Where the duties of a post have changed significantly the Head of Department must seek confirmation from the Human Resources Business Partnering team of the appropriate grade for the post, ideally before financial approval is sought. For details on how to obtain financial approval please refer to the Financial Authorisation Process for Recruitment

11. When a vacancy arises, consideration must be given to staff whose posts are being made redundant and for whom redeployment is being sought (see Redeployment Policy ). Recruiting managers must advertise their post to redeployees for five working days and give consideration to the eligible applicants. Redeployees may apply for roles that are the same grade or lower to their current grade. Redeployees should meet the essential criteria for the post (or can achieve this with minimal training) but do not need to meet the desirable criteria. If a redeployee meets all the essential criteria, they must be invited to a placement interview. Recruiting a redeployee can reduce both the time and the cost incurred in filling a vacancy.

12. When making appointments to posts with management responsibilities, consideration may also be given to UCL's Core Behaviours Framework.

Job Description (details of the role)

13. A job description is a key document in the recruitment process, and must be finalised prior to taking any other steps in the process (see guidance on writing job descriptions as well as a template and completed examples). It should clearly and accurately set out the duties and responsibilities of the job and must include:

  • the job title (which must be sex and age neutral)
  • the location of the job i.e. department/faculty/division/research group
  • grade of the post
  • the post to whom the postholder is responsible
  • any posts reporting to the postholder
  • main purpose of the job
  • main duties and responsibilities
  • any special working conditions (e.g., unsocial or shift working patterns, the requirement - for clinical posts - to obtain health clearance from an NHS Trust, the requirement for a criminal record check - (see paragraphs 86- 88)

14. Items that should be included in job descriptions are:

  • A note that indicates that, as duties and responsibilities change, the job description will be reviewed and amended in consultation with the postholder
  • An indication that the postholder will carry out any other duties as are within the scope, spirit and purpose of the job as requested by the line manager or Head of Department/Division
  • A statement that the postholder will actively follow UCL policies including Equal Opportunities policies
  • An indication that the postholder will maintain an awareness and observation of Fire and Health & Safety Regulations

15. The language in job descriptions should:

  • Avoid jargon and unexplained acronyms and abbreviations
  • Be readily understandable to potential applicants for the post. The Plain English website can proof documents for accessibility and plain, effective English
  • Avoid ambiguity about responsibilities and be clear about the postholder's accountability for resources, staff, etc.
  • Use inclusive language.

Person Specification

16. The person specification is of equal importance to the job description and informs the selection decision. The person specification details the skills, experience, abilities and expertise that are required to do the job. It should be drawn up after the job description and, with the job description, should inform the content of the advert. The person specification should be specific, related to the job, and not unnecessarily restrictive - for example only qualifications strictly needed to do the job should be specified. The inclusion of criteria that cannot be justified as essential for the performance of the job may be deemed discriminatory under the Equality Act 2010, if these impact disproportionately to the disadvantage of specific groups.

17. The person specification must form part of the further particulars of a vacancy along with the job description in order that applicants have a full picture of what the job entails. The person specification enables potential applicants to make an informed decision about whether to apply and those who do apply, to give sufficient relevant detail of their skills and experience in their application. The person specification forms the basis of the selection decision and enables the selection panel to ensure objectivity in their selection. 

18.UCL has agreed a set of core behaviours, which may inform the person specification for every appointment.

Elements of the Person Specification

19. The person specification details the:

  • knowledge (including necessary qualifications)
  • skills and abilities
  • experience
  • aptitudes

required to do the job - specifying which are essential and which are desirable; these may be different from the attributes of the previous postholder.

20. Essential criteria are those without which an appointee would be unable to adequately perform the job; Desirable criteria are those that may enable the candidate to perform better or require a shorter familiarisation period.

21. Criteria which are subjective and for which little evidence is likely to be obtained through the selection process should be avoided (for example, 'a flexible approach' is often too vague to be of any help in the selection process).

22. Knowledge can be derived in a number of ways, for example through education, training, or experience.

23. For some jobs a particular qualification(s) may be essential, while for others no single qualification may be appropriate and a particular type of experience may be just as relevant as a formal qualification. Where qualifications are deemed essential these should reflect the minimum requirements necessary to carry out the job to an acceptable standard. UK qualifications should be stated but (other than for required membership of a UK professional body) it should be made clear that overseas equivalents will be accepted. UCL Human Resources can assist in advising on the equivalence of particular overseas qualifications.

24. Candidates will increasingly come forward with National Qualification Framework qualifications (NQFs - previously NVQs). These qualifications recognise the achievement of employment-led standards of competence.

25. The type of experience required of applicants should be specified; but stipulating the length of experience must be avoided unless it can be objectively justified because the quality of experience is more important than its length and the Equality Act make such stipulation unlawful unless objectively justified. It is also important to remember that experience is sometimes transferable from one area of work to another, in which case specifying skills is likely to be more effective than specifying a narrow definition of experience.

26. Required abilities should be expressed in terms of the standards required, not just in terms of the task to be undertaken. For example, avoid statements such as 'Ability to write reports'; instead, indicate the expected standard, such as 'Ability to write detailed financial reports that encompass departmental budgeting, annual variances, and forecasting'.

27. Extreme care must be taken if physical requirements are specified. The Equality Act requires employers to make reasonable adjustments to a workplace or the way a job is carried out to make them suitable for disabled people. (Further information is available on what is considered reasonable and a helpful checklist regarding Disabled candidates is also available). It is therefore important that any physical requirement is stated in terms of the job that needs to be done. For example a job may require that the appointee 'must be able to travel to a number of different locations on UCL business'. For driving jobs, it will be appropriate to specify the ability to drive.

28. Personal qualities may affect the ability of an individual to do the job, but they should not be seen as substitutes for skills. For example, the ability to deal effectively with frustrated customers is a skill. Simply possessing patience (a personal quality) will not be enough.

Details for Applicants

29. The details of a vacancy or 'further particulars' of a post must include the job description and person specification for the post together with any other important information that a potential applicant needs to decide whether to apply. The purpose of advertising a post is to attract the widest range of high calibre applicants possible and therefore the further particulars sent to or accessed by applicants must give a clear picture of the post, the department, and of UCL as an employer.

30. Further particulars must include the following where they apply:

  • details of the main terms and conditions of employment (including holiday and pension arrangements, entitlement to apply for sabbatical leave if appropriate, working hours, call-out or shift patterns arrangements if appropriate, etc.). The standard terms and conditions for research and support or academic roles are automatically inserted and linked from adverts on Rome.
  • details of any relocation benefits - relocation expenses, relocation supplements where they apply, etc.
  • Information about the department (including details about the research strategy or research interests within the department). Standard information about UCL is automatically linked from adverts on ROME.
  • the Equal Opportunity Policy statement
  • guidelines about completing the application form, including the number of referees and whether there is an intention to seek references before interview
  • where a CV is required, candidates should be advised that it must include: education history (institution name, start and end dates of courses, qualification gained), details of membership of any professional organisations, details of current or most recent employer (name and address of current organisation, job title, salary and duties), details of previous employment and how the applicants' knowledge, skills, and abilities meet the job requirements;
  • in addition, UCL requires applicants applying with a CV to provide standardised monitoring information as indicated in Appendix I
  • where applicable, a statement explaining that only candidates who are shortlisted will be contacted (see paragraph 64)
  • where applicable, a copy of UCL's Core Behaviours Framework
  • reference to the Human Resources website which details UCL's employment policies, including UK immigration rules
  • an indication of the need for a criminal records check, depending on the post (see paragraph 87)
  • Proof of Right to work - Guidance for Candidates

31. General information about UCL is linked from all ROME adverts and can be found here Appendix M.

32. When requested and where reasonable, documentation should be translated into alternative formats. For example blind or partially sighted people should be allowed to receive an application in a different form e.g. via a hard copy. Alternatively the candidate my request Braille, large print, tape or an electronic format so that their accessibility software can be used. Assistance with the production of alternative formats is available from UCL's Equality, Diversity & Inclusion team.

Publicising the Vacancy

33. Authorisation needs to be obtained from both the Finance and HR divisions before a role is cleared for advertising. Please refer to the Financial Authorisation Process for Recruitment for further details.

34. Except where approval to waive advertising has been granted (see paragraphs 47-51) all job advertisements must be placed through the online recruitment system (ROME) to ensure compliance with this policy and because the contract with UCL's advertising agency is dependent on significant volume discounts. All vacancies will appear on UCL's external website and via a link from the University of London vacancy website.

This ensures that vacancies are open to external applicants. The only exceptions to this are where an individual is named on a grant application (see paragraph 6), where restructuring is taking place or where staff are facing redundancy and UCL Human Resources is seeking redeployment for existing staff.

35. The majority of posts, however, will also be concurrently advertised in other specialist, national or international media to maximise the chances of attracting the best candidate. All posts must be advertised for a minimum of two weeks to help attract the best pool of applicants and for a total of four weeks if a certificate of sponsorship is required, to ensure compliance with immigration rules. Attention is drawn to the specific requirements in relation to advertising for Certificate of Sponsorship purposes (see paragraph 95). Go to the Immigration website for more information on the points based immigration system including detailed requirements for issuing certificates of sponsorship and right to work FAQs.

36. Where head-hunting organisations are used for very senior or specialist positions, a requirement to seek out suitable female and ethnic minority candidates for consideration must be incorporated in to the brief for the assignment.

37. The Equality and Human Rights Commission advises that 'word of mouth' recruitment is likely to be indirectly discriminatory in terms of race and/or sex discrimination. It is very important therefore that all posts are advertised as widely as possible in media that reach underrepresented groups and that all applicants are dealt with in the same way and given the same information and opportunity to make an application.

38. All appointments for Deans, Vice-Provosts and other senior leadership roles must be advertised externally with appropriate positive action statements.

39. To ensure that applicants are fully informed about the vacancy for which they are applying and to ensure that they provide UCL with all the information we require, adverts must direct applicants to the further particulars, which will provide more information including how to apply.

40. An advertisement is written from the job description and person specification and should contain the following points:

  • UCL name and logo (use of the UCL logo is strictly regulated; see UCL guidance on Visual Identity.
  • title of vacancy
  • salary inclusive of London Weighting
  • brief details of the job
  • key details of the person specification
  • the necessity of a criminal records check, if required, see paragraph 87 or an Occupational Health Assessment
  • duration of the appointment (if fixed term)
  • how to access further particulars of the vacancies
  • closing date for applications (sufficient time should be allowed to enable applicants to consider the further particulars and make their application)
  • where known, date of interview
  • A statement reflecting UCL's commitment to equality of opportunity is automatically included in all recruitment advertisements

41. Assistance with drafting advertisements is available on request from UCL Human Resources.

42. Heads of Departments must ensure that permission to fill a post has been obtained before seeking to publicise a vacancy; details are available from the appropriate section of the Finance Division - Planning & Management Accounts in respect of non-research posts and Research Administration in respect of research posts.

43. See Advertising Costs for more information of advert costs.

44. A copy of adverts placed in all media should be retained by the department. These are required to support evidence of the Resident Labour Market Test having been met where a certificate of sponsorship is requested. See also UK Visas and Immigration requirements for keeping documents where a certificate is issued.

Advertising on UCL's Website and the Internet

45. Instructions on how to prepare advertisements for placement on online recruitment system (ROME) can be found on the Human Resources website.

46. The most popular and effective website for posts within Higher Education is 'www.jobs.ac.uk'. It advertises vacancies for the academic community and associated areas of research in both the public and private sector.

Executive Search Firms

47. Recruiting managers may engage one of UCL’s preferred executive search firms to broaden the scope of the search and better meet our goal of attaining diversity at senior levels. Executive search firms are typically used for hiring into very senior positions, such as Dean, Vice-Provost, Head of Department and Directors of Professional Services divisions and, in some circumstances, other specialist roles. The preferred service will be funded locally, unless the positions are Vice Provost or Dean appointments, where the cost can be charged against a corporate budget held by HR. The executive search firms are required to provide long lists with at least 30% female representation. The use of an alternative agency may be agreed, in exceptional circumstances, by the Director of Human Resources. Alternative agencies where approved will also be required to provide longlists with at least 30% female representation.

48. Departments should contact their Principal HR Business Partner for information and assistance in selecting the search firm on UCL’s preferred supplier list. The use of search firms must be coordinated with the Principal HR Business Partner to ensure compliance with legal and regulatory obligations. Jobs must be advertised on the UCL website, and applicants will be directed to apply through the relevant firm, rather than applying through ROME.  Requests to use an alternative firm must be made in writing to the Director of Human Resources, with detailed justification for the use of a search firm not on the preferred supplier list. All search firms doing business with UCL must agree to collect and provide UCL with information in compliance with UCL’s equality obligations. Recruiting departments must ensure that each long listed applicant’s equal opportunities data is inputted to ROME within one month of the final interview date.

Advert Waivers for Professorial Appointments

49. While staff will normally be appointed following advertisement of a post, in exceptional circumstances the requirement to advertise a professorial post may be waived by the Provost on application by the relevant Dean. It is expected that the number of such appointments will be limited on an annual basis to a number of posts equivalent to five percent of the number of professors in the faculty

50. Deans who wish to make a request to waive advertising should seek early advice from the relevant Human Resources Business Partner. Requests for waivers of advertising in exceptional circumstances must be based on an argued case. Waivers of advertising may only be approved where there are no staff eligible for redeployment who may be suitable for such a vacancy. Advice on how to determine this is given in the Redeployment Policy. In considering whether to seek approval for a waiver of advertising in exceptional circumstances, Deans should also be cognisant of the specific requirements in relation to advertising for Certificate of Sponsorship purposes (see paragraphs 95 - 99).

51. Approval to waive advertising may be provided where there is evidence that:

a. the candidate under consideration has unique internationally renowned expertise relevant to the achievement of departmental and UCL strategic objectives which would bring exceptional benefits to the department or faculty as a whole; and,

b. advertising the post would deter the candidate from applying for the post or would otherwise put the successful recruitment of the candidate at risk.

c. Deans are also strongly encouraged to use the waiver of advertising facility to headhunt the best women and ethnic minority people in their field.

52. In approving requests to waive advertising in the above circumstances, evidence that such circumstances exist will need to be provided with the request. Evidence will also need to be provided that equality and diversity implications of the proposed appointment have been explicitly considered. Where a waiver of advertisement is approved, all other aspects of the UCL Recruitment and Selection policy apply and candidates must be considered by a selection committee and, in the case of Chairs, a working group of Academic Board. Approved requests to waive advertising must be copied to the Director of Human Resources in order to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness and impact of this policy.

53. The Director of Human Resources will keep a register of requests and approved requests to waive advertising including relevant demographic details of the appointed candidates, and will provide UCL's equality and diversity champions with annual anonymised reports. See guidance notes for more information.

Processing Applications

54. Heads of Departments must make their staff aware that when dealing with enquiries about vacancies it is unlawful to state or imply that applications from one sex or from a particular racial group or in relation to any other protected characteristic would be preferred and to do so may lead to a complaint of race, sex or other discrimination against UCL.

55. Care must also be taken when initiating contacts with applicants that all are treated in the same way, for example with regard to invitations to visit the department, informal meetings to discuss the vacancy, and provision of information.

56. The confidentiality of applications must be respected by all of those involved in the selection process.

Selecting the Interview Panel

57. All interviews must be conducted by a panel. The Head of Department/line manager should select interview panel members prior to the closing date; this allows panel members to assist in the shortlisting process. Familiarity with the vacancy and preparation for the interview is a key to successful interviewing.

58. Panels must:

  • consist of a minimum of three people including the immediate line manager of the vacant post, a colleague who is familiar with the area of work and a third person, preferably from outside the department to balance the panel's perspective.
  • consider if the appointment is to a department providing services to the rest of the university, of inviting an end user of these services to join the panel
  • reflect an ethnicity balance wherever possible
  • declare if they already know a candidate
  • be willing and able to attend all interviews for the duration of the recruitment process, to maintain consistency and to ensure fair treatment of all candidates.

Single sex panels must be avoided (i.e. all male or all female) and all UCL recruitment panels must comprise of at least 25% of women, including those for senior positions. In practice this means that there must be at least one woman on all UCL panels, and more than one in larger panels, to avoid the impression of tokenism.

All UCL staff on panels must have received training in fair recruitment* and ideally at least one member who has received disability awareness training. Courses are provided by the Organisational Development department. Panel members external to UCL are welcome to attend UCL training, but is not a requirement. In such circumstances the Panel chair is responsible for briefing external panel members and ensuring processes are followed fairly, legally and in line with UCL policy.

* Checks should be made by recruiting departments that panel members have attended the Fair Recruitment briefings. Attendance is logged on the Learning Event Records System (LERS) by staff in organisational development. Heads of Department, Departmental Administrators and nominated Training Administrators have access to departmental training records.

59. UCL's Statutes prescribe the appointment to certain senior academic posts within UCL. Guidelines on the appointment to Established Chairs and Readerships is available on the Registry and Academic services website


60. UCL is required by the Equality Act 2010 to monitor the ethnic origin, sex and disability status of applicants for all posts, those shortlisted and appointees. In addition UCL has also decided to monitor the age, sexual orientation and religious belief of applicants. This informs UCL how its Equality and Diversity Strategy is working in practice and whether its recruitment practices are having a discriminatory effect on any particular groups. Applicants will complete equality monitoring information as part of their online application. See Appendix E for a hard copy of the Recruitment monitoring form which candidates will need to complete if applying off line for any reason. Panel members should remind themselves of the monitoring information required of them in relation to their selection decisions before commencing the selection process.


61. After the closing date has passed the interview panel should assess the applications to determine which applicants are to be called for interview. At least two members of the interview panel, including the immediate line manager, should undertake the task of shortlisting. Where the panel has an external member, that person should take part in the shortlisting wherever practicable. Shortlisting decisions should be based on evidence that the applicant has met the requirements of the person specification. Shortlisting panel members should avoid dismissing applicants who appear to be over-qualified. Assumptions should not be made about their reasons for applying for the post as they may eliminate an otherwise exemplary candidate. The selection criteria pro forma at Appendix D can assist with the task of shortlisting.


62. The original applications for all applicants, together with a written note of reasons for shortlisting or rejecting applicants must be retained for a minimum of 12 months from the date that an appointment decision is notified, in case of complaint to an Employment Tribunal and to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration requirements to keep records for 12 months where a certificate of sponsorship is required. Data such as applications contained within the online recruitment system (ROME) is automatically kept for 12 months before being archived, so it’s no longer visible to recruiting departments but is available to candidates to re-use for future applications.

Arrangements for Interviews

63. Letters or emails to shortlisted candidates should include:

  • date, time and place of their interview
  • instructions on how to find their way to the interview venue
  • a request that they contact the author of the letter/message if they have any particular requirements or to discuss the interview facilities (related to access to the venue or any other need related to a disability).
  • if appropriate, details of any test or presentation they will be required to take or anything they should bring with them (e.g., examples of work)
  • qualification certificates that are essential to the post
  • permission to work in the UK documents (or to indicate if a Certificate of Sponsorship is required) See candidate guidance
  • A specimen letter is set out in Appendix F. and is contained within the online recruitment system (ROME)

64. The Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 makes it an offence to employ anyone who does not have permission to be in, or work in, the UK. To avoid making assumptions about such permission, it is the Department's responsibility to ask all appointees for evidence of eligibility to work in the UK. It is unlawful racial discrimination to carry out checks only on potential employees who by their appearance or accent seem to be other than British. It is therefore a requirement to ask all candidates attending for interview to bring with them evidence of their right to work in the UK.

65. Departments must take a copy of the original document, sign to confirm they have seen the original and send this to HR Employment Contract Administration with all starter documentation. See Appendix K for acceptable evidence

66. It is best practice to write to candidates who have not been shortlisted (a specimen letter is set out at Appendix F), but if this is not possible due to limited resources, the further particulars for the post should make clear that after a certain period, if they have not heard from UCL, applicants should consider themselves not to have been shortlisted.


67. In addition to being available to offer advice on any stage of the recruitment process, HR staff can join an interview panel, if requested in advance.

68. Interviews should be scheduled as soon after the closing date as reasonably possible, as delays are likely to lead to a loss of candidates.

69. The structure of interviews should be decided in advance by determining who will chair the panel and what areas of questioning are required to cover all of the elements of the person specification. The question areas to be explored by each panel member should be agreed in advance to avoid overlap or repetition and panels may find it helpful to discuss their expectations of full answers to the questions, prior to the interview.

70. The same areas of questioning should be covered with all candidates and assumptions should not be made regarding the expertise or abilities of candidates because of their employment history. Interview questions should be phrased so that they do not favour any one candidate or group of candidates. Supplementary questions should be used to probe for further information or clarification where answers are incomplete or ambiguous. Recruiting managers are expected to ask candidates the reason for any gaps in their employment history. Care must be taken to avoid questions that could be construed as discriminatory (e.g., questions about personal circumstances that are unrelated to the job). It is, for example, legitimate to ask for confirmation of whether individuals can comply with the working patterns of the post, but not to ask details of their domestic or child care arrangements etc. It is the responsibility of the Chair of the panel to ensure that such questions are not asked. Further guidance on questioning is given at Appendix G.

71. Staff conducting interviews must be aware that, although questions asked may not in themselves be discriminatory, the interpretation of answers by the panel could exhibit prejudice. For example, if indications of ambition were to be regarded as a worthy characteristic in applicants of one sex or ethnic group but not in another. Information regarding personal circumstances which is offered in a CV or at interview must not be taken into consideration in reaching a selection decision. For example, the fact that a male candidate shares details of his domestic circumstances with the panel but a female candidate chooses not to (or vice versa), should not be taken into account.

72. Interview panels act for UCL in making selection decisions and are accountable for them. Interview notes must be taken by each panellist to help the panel to make an informed decision based on the content of the interviews. Such notes must relate to how candidates demonstrate their knowledge, skills, experience and abilities in relation to the person specification. The Data Protection Act allows applicants to request disclosure of such notes in the event of a complaint and an Employment Tribunal would expect UCL to have notes of every selection decision. The lack of such notes would seriously impede UCL's ability to contest such a complaint. Obviously any inappropriate or personally derogatory comments contained within the notes could be considered discriminatory and are unacceptable.

73. It is good practice to offer internal applicants feedback after interviews and it is UCL policy to respond to requests for feedback from external applicants. Feedback should be specific, relating to the person specification, and honest. In feeding back to candidates it is good practice to balance the applicants' weaknesses with some positive points.

Selection Tests and Presentations

74. Consideration should be given to using job-related selection tests or asking candidates to give presentations as part of the selection process if there are some elements of the person specification that are difficult to test at interview. If selection tests or presentations are to be used, all candidates should be given the same written information as to how long they will take, the topic area(s) they will cover, and what - if anything - they should prepare in advance. Psychometric tests may only be given by trained test administrators and any department wishing to use psychometric tests must contact UCL Human Resources for advice. In all cases care should be taken to ensure that job-related tests are well explained in writing for candidates, in plain language, that all candidates are subject to the same tests under exactly the same conditions, (excluding any allowances made as 'reasonable adjustments' to disabled candidates) and that presentation topics do not favour any one candidate. It is very important that selection tests are not unfairly discriminatory. Advice is available from UCL Human Resources for those wishing to develop selection tests.

Making a Decision After Interview

75. The information obtained in the application, the interview, any selection tests and in references (if obtained prior to interview) will allow candidates to be assessed against the person specification and a selection decision to be made. The Chair of the panel must ensure that a written note of the reasons for selecting the successful candidate and rejecting others is made and placed on the recruitment file, together with the original applications and notes of all panel members, for a minimum of 12 months after the appointment decision has been notified to the candidates.

76. Positive action provisions in the Equality Act 2010 can be used to recruit a staff member from an underrepresented group where they score equally. These provisions can be used to support the achievement of UCL's Equality targets as stated in UCL's Equality and Diversity Strategy .

77. If a member of a selection panel feels that there has been any irregularity in the recruitment and selection procedure and the panel cannot resolve the matter at the time, they must report the matter without delay to the Director of Human Resources.

78. Interview proceedings are confidential and interviewers are free to divulge to others the decision reached only once the appointee has accepted the post.

79. If references, or other pre employment checks, e.g. the right to work, have not been taken up prior to sending new starter information through to UCL Human Resources, then HR will not issue a contract to the preferred candidate. Provisional offers may be made, subject to a certificate of sponsorship being issued and entry clearance gained, Disclosure and Barring Service check or occupational health clearance, where appropriate.

80. Once a provisional offer is made the preferred candidate will be asked to disclose their sickness/unauthorised absence record. The recruiting manager should consider on a case-by-case basis the nature of the absence and must, where appropriate, disregard periods related to the assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation of a disability. For example it may be appropriate to disregard a period of sickness if it was caused by a one off accident requiring a long term absence. These decisions are not, however, always straightforward, so recruiting managers should discuss these cases with their HR Business Partnering contact prior to disregarding any sickness absence periods. If the information returned by the applicant, or the case is not clear for any other reason, the candidate should be referred to Occupational Health. The candidate's contract will be subject to them having a satisfactory sickness/unauthorised absence record.

81. Where the successful candidate is disabled, reasonable adjustments may need to be considered depending on their disability and in consultation with them. This should be done as soon as possible after appointment. UCL has a duty to consider what reasonable adjustments can be made to working practices, or premises, or to enable access to goods, facilities and services by disabled people. (See the Equalities website for further information on what is considered reasonable and a helpful checklist at Appendix O regarding good practice and disabled candidates.) Successful applicants who declare a disability or may require adjustments to their work or working environment are referred to the Occupational Health Service, once they have completed their online staff registration form. The candidate may qualify for the Government's Access To Work Programme (details of which are available at Access to Work.Where reasonable adjustments are agreed these must be recorded in writing. The candidate should also receive written confirmation of whatever adjustments have been agreed.


82. The further particulars for a post should make clear to candidates the number and status of referees required and whether the panel intends to seek references before interview (see paragraphs 30 and 80). References from relatives or friends should not be accepted. Appropriate referees are those who have direct experience of a candidate's work, education or training: preferably in a supervisory capacity and a reference must be obtained from the current or previous employer. Where staff will be working with or for government agencies (armed forces, civil servants / non departmental public bodies or government contractors, e.g. research councils), including on secondment or based on their sites, we are required to be compliant with HMG guidance on Baseline Personnel Security Standards. This requires references that cover employment for the last three years to be taken up. Additional pre-employment checks are required for those working in secure areas with access to controlled substances, see: Appendix S for the recruiting managers responsibilities.

83. In most cases references must only be taken up once a preferred candidate is selected. Taking up references before this point should only be used for some academic posts. If it is intended to take up references before a preferred candidate is selected it is not permissible under the Equality Act to enquire about the sickness absence record of the applicant. A template pre-interview reference request form without a question on sickness absence can be found in Appendix Q. Where an applicant indicates that they do not wish their current employer to be contacted prior to a provisional offer being made, this should be respected. In most cases references will be requested after a preferred candidate is identified. When requesting a reference at this stage information on the candidate's sickness/unauthorised absence record should be requested. A model template to use after interview can be found in Appendix R.

84. When requesting references, it is helpful to seek precise information and confirm facts, such as length of employment, relationship of the applicant to the referee, job title, brief details of responsibilities, reasons for leaving, unauthorised absence, attendance including sickness absence (providing the reference is requested after selection takes place as per paragraph 78) , performance, and any other relevant information. It is helpful to the referee to include a copy of the job description and person specification of the post to which you are recruiting. Do not make requests that only elicit generalisations about candidates' attendance, honesty, or subjective information as to the applicant's suitability for the job. The value of unsolicited references submitted by candidates and addressed 'To Whom It May Concern' is very limited and should be disregarded.

85. Telephone references should be avoided but, where time pressures or the location of referees dictate that this may be appropriate, recruiters should ensure that they are certain as to the identity of the person to whom they are speaking. When conducting telephone references, it is helpful to plan the conversation beforehand and to have a list of questions ready. A file note should be made at the time of the telephone conversation and written confirmation should always be requested.

86. It should be noted that for appointments in which handling cash or responsibility for valuables such as computers, stores, etc. is part of the job, UCL's insurers require that references be obtained for the previous three years and that the successful applicant may not start work until references satisfactory to the Head of Department/Section have been obtained.

87. References are confidential and must be sought 'in confidence'. Any request for disclosure of references must be forwarded to the UCL Data Protection Officer. References should only be used for the purpose for which they were intended and their confidentiality must be maintained. Panel members must return all copies of any references with the application forms and their interview notes to the Chair on completion of the recruitment exercise. References must only be kept on the recruitment file and the personal file held by UCL Human Resources.

88. Guidance concerning the provision of employment references is set out at Appendix H and on the Human Resources website.

Criminal Record Checks

89. It is UCL policy to require applicants to disclose any  convictions, cautions, reprimands or final warnings that are not ‘protected’ as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (as amended in 2013) as part of their application.  The amendments to the Exceptions Order 1975 (2013) provide that certain spent convictions and cautions are 'protected' and are not subject to disclosure to employers , and cannot be taken into account. Guidance and criteria on the filtering of these cautions and convictions can be found on the Disclosure and Barring Service website. However certain types of posts, particularly those that involve working with children or adults in a vulnerable position or other positions of trust or sensitive areas, are exempt from these provisions, and in these cases all convictions, cautions, reprimands or final warning that will not be filtered in line with the current guidance must be declared. For UCL's policy on the recruitment of staff with criminal records see the DBS checks and criminal convictions procedure.

90. The Disclosure and Barring Service makes decisions about who will be barred from working with children and vulnerable adults. If a manager believes that the appointee to a vacancy will be working in a 'regulated' position (see DBS checks procedure and Working with Children Guidelines Appendix A) They will require an enhanced criminal records check before commencing employment. The Human Resources Division must be contacted prior to advertising. Applicants must be made aware early in the recruitment process that a criminal records check will be required of the appointee.

91. Appointees to such positions involving regulated activity must be briefed on their responsibilities towards safeguarding children and vulnerable adults. For more information see the Working with Vulnerable Groups Policy. 


92. Only the Human Resources Division issues letters of appointment and places individuals on the payroll (other than very limited exceptions). If the job offer is conditional on completion of a qualification, DBS check, visa clearance (see paragraph 94) or health screening, this will be made clear in the appointment letter.

93. Academic qualifications, professional registration, the right to work and any other specifics considered essential for the post must be verified by the Department at the time of interview. If requested, Human Resources can advise on the equivalence of overseas qualifications.  If a qualification is essential for the post and the recruiting manager has any concerns about the legitimacy of the qualification document they should contact the awarding body to ask for verification.  If a qualification certificate is issued in a foreign language, recruiting managers can ask the candidate for a translation from a reputable source or document notarisation.

Certificates of Sponsorship

94. If the person to be appointed is a national of a non-EEA country, a Certificate of Sponsorship may be required.

Criteria for issuing a CoS:

  • The job is in a 'designated shortage' occupation, or
  • It passes the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT)
  • The job is at NQF6 level or above
  • Minimum salary levels are met 

95. Please refer to guidance on the different Tiers of the points based immigration system, incorporating the departmental guide to the completion of forms to request a certificate of sponsorship. Detailed advice is available from your your HR contact in the ECA team.

96. For further information about current immigration regulations please go to the UK Visas and Immigration website

97. Only UCL Human Resources is authorised to issue certificates of sponsorship (CoS). In addition to the CoS the individual must apply for entry clearance/ leave to remain through the UK Visas and Immigration and provide personal evidence of competence in English and ongoing maintenance.

98. The process can take up to three months and staff cannot under any circumstances be employed until permission is given. It is essential to the application that the vacancy has been advertised in accordance with the requirements of the designated occupational code. Such evidence must be submitted to UCL Human Resources. Further details are available from the Human Resources Business Partnering Team or on the Human Resources website.

Induction and Probation

99. It is UCL policy that all staff who are new to UCL undergo a structured induction and successfully complete a probationary period (subject to limited exceptions).  Full details can be found in the UCL Induction and Probation policy on the Human Resources website.


100. Within the financial provision or established grading of the post, the salary offered should have regard to the applicant's experience or expertise and will normally be at or above the incremental point equivalent to the applicant's present salary. The salaries of other staff doing similar work within the department/division with similar experience should also be taken into account.

Breaches of Policy

101. Any member of staff with concerns about the application of this policy should raise their concerns in writing with their Head of Department, or with the manager to whom the Head reports, if the concern includes the Head's actions. Applicants for employment concerned about the application of the policy should write to the Director of Human Resources. Recruitment and monitoring data is reported annually to the Human Resources Policy Committee and Committee for Equal Opportunities.

HR Employment Policy Team 
September 2019