UCL Human Resources


Recruitment and Selection Procedure

Policy regarding the recruitment and selection of new staff.

See Internal Recruitment of PS Posts Pilot Scheme


1. Purpose
2. Scope
3. Vacancy identification and evaluation
4. Job description and person specification
5. Grading of post
6. Approval to recruit
7. Advertising
8. Redeployees
9. Recruitment agencies and executive search firms
10. Application
11. The recruitment panel
12. Information security and privacy
13. Shortlisting
14. Interview arrangements
15. Pre-employment screening checks including Right to Work check
16. The interview and selection testing
17. Feedback to unsuccessful candidates
18. Conditional offer
19. Applying for Certificate of Sponsorship
20. Raising the contract
21. References
22. Employing a young worker
23. Relocation scheme
24. Induction
25. Raising a concern
26. Monitoring and review
27. Appendices

1. Purpose

1.1 This procedure is intended to ensure there is:

  • A recruitment and selection framework for appointing diverse people of the highest calibre to UCL which is fair, consistent and legally compliant.
  • Adherence to the requirements of related UCL policies, such as the Equal Opportunities Policy, Equality Act 2010 and all other relevant legislation.

2. Scope

2.1 This procedure applies to the recruitment of permanent (open-ended) and fixed term employees.

2.2 The following appointments are exempt from general advertising under this procedure, however a fair selection will still take place where relevant:

3. Vacancy identification and evaluation

3.1 The Recruiting Manager will evaluate the need for any new, changed or replacement posts using workforce planning.

3.2 See the Appointment of Professors for the creation of a Chair.

3.3 Consideration will be given to the appropriate tenure of the role: whether it should be a fixed term contract; an open ended contract; an open ended contract with a funding or project end date.

3.4 The Recruiting Manager should review the UCL Guide to Positive Action and Inclusive Recruitment

4. Job description and person specification

4.1 A Job Description (JD) will be produced for any vacant post using the UCL Job Description template. It will clearly and accurately set out the duties and responsibilities of the job.

4.2 Within the Job Description, there will be a section dedicated to the Person Specification, which outlines the qualifications, experience and knowledge, skills and abilities, and personal attributes required to perform the job. The criteria are either essential or desirable, with interview panel members assessing candidates against these criteria. Guidance on writing a Job Description and Person Specification can be found here including behavioural indicators relating to the UCL Ways of Working framework.

4.3 Where security checks, a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check or professional registration (e.g. General Medical Council), are a relevant condition of employment for a job, the requirements must be specified in the job description or person specification.

4.4 In line with UCL’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, the Person Specification will include the following criterion (or an equivalent criterion that is more specific and relevant to the post) for Senior and Middle Management jobs:

  • Grades 9 and 10 – essential criterion of ‘Demonstrable contribution to advancing equality, diversity and inclusion’.
  • Grades 7 and 8 – desirable criterion of ‘Commitment to and knowledge of advancing equality, diversity and inclusion’.

5. Grading of post

5.1 When the grade of a Professional Services post has not been previously determined or its duties have changed significantly, the recruiting manager will need to arrange with their HR Business Partner for the job description to be evaluated in accordance with the Grading Procedure prior to commencement of the recruitment process.  In order to recruit, the recruiting manager will need the HERA evaluation number, obtained from the HR Business Partner or by emailing jobevaluation@ucl.ac.uk.

6. Approval to recruit

6.1 Financial approval must be requested for a new or replacement post before the recruitment process can commence (see Financial Authorisation Process for Recruitment), except where posts are fully funded by research grants.

6.2 For posts where research ethics approval is required, the Recruiting Manager will refer to the guidance on the Ethics section of the research integrity website

7. Advertising

7.1 See Guidance on Writing a Job Advert.

7.2 The Recruiting Manager will set up the vacancy within ROME. Please see the ROME user guides.

7.3 Please see Preparing an Advert – guidance to the fields on the Online Recruitment SystemNormal practice is to include the salary range inclusive of London Allowance and exclude the contribution points. In exceptional circumstances reference to the highest contribution point in the salary range may be made provided that the phrase “subject to performance” is used.

7.4 For grant funded research posts where the funding does not permit the advertisement of the full salary range, the following options are available:

  • Advertising a starting salary. An appointment may not be made at a higher salary.

  • Advertising a restricted range with the maximum point constrained by the available funding. The minimum salary of the scale for the grade must be advertised.

  • Advertising a ‘circa’ salary.

7.5 For research funded posts, the conditions of funding should be referenced in the advert, for example the length of funding.

7.6 When selecting the most effective methods for advertising posts, the Recruiting Manager will consider placing adverts in media aimed at under-represented groups, particularly on a number of open access job boards.

7.7 All adverts will include a Recruitment Positive Action Statement and a link to UCL’s Equal Opportunities Policy, as well as the statement linked to the Work-Life Balance Policy (‘We will consider applications to work on a part-time, flexible and job      share basis wherever possible.’). This statement may be excluded if there are exceptional reasons, as agreed with the HR Business Partner.

7.8 Recruiting managers must consider the needs of disabled candidates see Appendix 5 throughout the recruitment process.

7.9 Where security checks, see Appendix 8 a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check or professional registration (e.g. General Medical Council), are a relevant condition of employment for a job, the requirements must be clearly specified in the job advert.

7.10 The date of the interview should be published in the advert, where possible.

7.11 The current service standard from receipt of the advert to review by the HR Services Team is 5 working days. If any required information is missing or incorrect, this may delay your advert from being published.

8. Redeployees

8.1 All jobs will be advertised to redeployees only, for one week.  See the Redeployment Policy.

8.2 If a redeployee is not appointed the recruiting manager or administrator must log into ROME to progress the vacancy to external advert. The current service standard for external advert placement from receipt of email notification is 3 working days.

8.3 The job will be advertised on UCL’s website for a minimum of two weeks to internal and external candidates.

9. Recruitment agencies and executive search firms

9.1 Recruitment agencies or executive search firms on UCL’s preferred supplier list may be used where considered to be most effective, particularly for very senior or specialist positions. In such cases, a requirement to seek out suitable female and ethnic minority candidates for consideration will be incorporated into the brief for the vacancy, with candidate longlists consisting of at least 30% female representation.

9.2 The cost of engaging the preferred agency or search firm will be funded locally, unless the positions are Vice Provost, Dean or Professional Services Director appointments, where the cost can be charged against a corporate budget held by HR.

9.3 The Recruiting Manager will discuss the appointment with their HR Business Partner prior to engaging an executive search firm.

10. Application

10.1 All candidates will apply via ROME, however where requested and where it is a reasonable adjustment for a disability (see Appendix 5), please use the accessible application form.

10.2 Applicants are requested to provide equal opportunities details when making their application to enable a robust means of monitoring the success of recruitment in relation to our equality and diversity objectives. This information is separate from the application.

10.3 UCL employees and workers only need to seek permission to apply for UCL jobs if they have not yet passed probation or are being managed under the Capability Policy, the Sickness Absence Procedure, Grievance Procedure or Disciplinary Procedure. In these cases, the member of staff must seek permission from their line manager, who will seek advice from their HR Business Partner.

11. The recruitment panel

11.1 The recruiting manager should consider who will be on the interview panel as early as possible in the process to allow effective planning. Panels will consist of a minimum of three people, normally including the immediate Line Manager of the vacant post, a colleague who is familiar with the area of work and a third or additional people.

11.2 When determining the size and composition of the panel, recruiting managers should consider the nature and grade of the role, subject area and complexities.  

There is no limitation on panel size, but recruiting managers should be mindful that large panels can sometimes be intimidating and are not always be the most appropriate environment to evaluate a candidate. If a large panel is required, it is recommended to also consider other ways to structure the process, such as multiple interviews with different panels to cover specific areas, having a presentation in front of a larger panel and then interview with a smaller group.

11.3 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.

11.4  All white panels should be avoided wherever possible. If you do not have a trained BAME employee within your department, School or Faculty you may request a Fair Recruitment Specialist to be a panel member.

11.5 Recruiting managers should consider inviting panel members from other departments or teams, or a service user of the particular role, to help with team diversity and avoid potential “clone effect”.

11.6 All panel members must have completed UCL’s mandatory training on Staff Online Diversity Training; Unconscious Bias Training and Fair and Inclusive Recruitment training course prior to any interviews taking place. The Recruiting Manager will ensure that any external panel members are aware of the fair recruitment principles and that they are sufficiently briefed to ensure full compliance with this policy.

11.7 Panel members will ensure they:

  • Declare to the Recruiting Manager if they already know a candidate. If they have a close personal or familial relationship with a candidate, they will withdraw from the panel; and
  • Are able to attend every part of the selection process (presentations, interviews etc.) for the duration of the recruitment process, to maintain consistency and to ensure fair treatment of all candidates.

12. Information security and privacy

  • The Panel and administrator will treat all documentation relating to candidates confidentially and in accordance with the UCL Information Security Policy (and associated policies). The UCL Staff Privacy Notice sets out the data we will collect, the legal basis for processing it and candidates’ rights regarding their data.
  • The recruiting manager should ensure that applications, shortlisting and interview notes, are stored on the online recruitment system “ROME”, in accordance with the UCL Retention Schedule.

13. Shortlisting

13.1. At least two members of the interview panel will undertake shortlisting after the job advert has closed.

13.2 Shortlisting decisions are based solely on evidence provided in the application form and how that evidence meets the Person Specification criteria.

13.3 A shortlisting grid is available at Appendix 2.

13.4 Due to the volume of applications received, unsuccessful external candidates will not normally be provided feedback on their application.

14. Interview arrangements

14.1 The panel should consider the structure of the interview and how they will test the candidates. Please see this guidanceThe recruiting manager will ensure that the shortlisted candidates are provided with details of the interview process, including any selection tests, by email usually at least five working days before the interview. This should include how the tests will be carried out, enabling any candidate with a disability see Appendix 5 to determine if they will need reasonable adjustments. The same written information will be given to all candidates.  This will normally be sent through ROME.

14.2 Candidates should be asked in advance to bring evidence of their right to work (unless the candidate and role are eligible for immigration sponsorship) and any relevant qualification documents to their interview.

14.3 Candidates will be asked if there are any reasonable adjustments that could be made so that they can participate fully and fairly in the interview process. The accessibility of the interview venue should be proactively considered when securing a venue, and it may be necessary to delay scheduled interviews to accommodate certain reasonable adjustments. Recruiting Managers should contact their HR Business Partner should they require any guidance.

14.4 The recruiting manager may offer to reimburse candidates’ interview expenses where they meet the criteria.  Please see Guidelines on Interview Expenses.

15. Pre-employment screening checks including Right to Work check

15.1 Evidence of right to work (unless the candidate and role are eligible for immigration sponsorship) and any relevant qualification documents will be checked, copied and certified at interview by the Recruiting Manager or a nominated delegate. Any concerns or issues that arise as a consequence of pre-employment checks for either internal or external candidates should be discussed with HR Services before a final appointment decision is made.

15.2 Information on undertaking a right to work check can be found here:  Guidance for checking Right-to-Work

15.3 Where the candidate and recruiting manager will not meet in person due to covid19, Section 4 of the procedure for checking the document should be carried out.

15.4 Other requirements, such as security checks (Appendix 8health surveillance and job hazard identification; Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, verifying a professional registration, or obtaining an ATAS certificate must be completed, if they are a condition of employment for the job, before commencing employment.

16. The interview and selection testing

16.1 UCL encourages Recruiting Managers to consider using job-related selection tests (including presentations) to objectively assess candidates. Selection tests may take place before the interview.   Some psychometric tests may only be given by trained test administrators, the HR Business Partner must be consulted with regarding their use.

16.2 Interview questions and assessment will be consistently applied to all candidates and will be based on the Person Specification. Questions will not be discriminatory or unrelated to the job.

16.3 Questions relating to UCL’s Ways of Working can also be asked to ascertain the candidates’ affiliation with these behaviours.

16.4 Notes recording the candidates’ responses to the interview questions will be made by each panel member.

16.5 Selection decisions will be made by a majority decision, after all the interviews have concluded.

16.6 The panel will appoint the best candidate based on who most closely matches the person specification.

16.7 Positive action provisions in the Equality Act 2010 can be used to select a candidate from an under-represented group where there are two or more candidates who are of equal merit.  Guidance on this is set out in the Guide to Positive Action and Inclusive Recruitment.

17. Unsuccessful interviewed candidates

17.1 The Recruiting Manager will ensure that unsuccessful candidates are informed either verbally or by email promptly following the selection decision. If requested, the recruiting manager (or nominee) will provide factual, constructive interview feedback to all unsuccessful candidates.

17.2 Copies of right to work documents for unsuccessful candidates must be securely destroyed as soon the selection process is concluded, normally once a conditional offer by the successful candidate is accepted.

17.3 Until March 2021, if the appointed candidate required sponsorship for a work visa, it was necessary to store all documents on candidates who were shortlisted for interview on the online immigo system for the duration of the sponsorship plus one year.  It is now no longer necessary to store personal details for the unsuccessful candidates on immigo when submitting certificate of sponsorship requests.

18. Conditional offer

18.1 The recruiting manager may issue a conditional offer of employment to the successful applicant using the template letter in ROME.  The offer will be subject to evidence of right to work in the UK, receipt of references which are satisfactory to UCL, and any other requirements relevant to the job (e.g. DBS check, ATAS certificate).

18.2 When offering the role, the recruiting manager should ask whether the successful applicant requires any reasonable adjustments and/or wishes to declare a health condition or disability before their start date.

18.3 The salary offered will be at the salary or grade stated in the financial approval and in the advert. The scale point will normally be at the bottom of the grade scale unless they have previous experience in a similar role at the same grade or above.  Recruiting managers must be mindful of other team members doing a similar role to ensure that the pay is equitable.

18.4 The recruiting manager will need to progress the successful and unsuccessful candidates through the appropriate stages in ROME.

19. Applying for Certificate of Sponsorship

If you are a Departmental Administrator and need to request a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for a successful candidate through the Immigo System and do not already have access, please email hr.services@ucl.ac.uk.  For certain roles, it is necessary to obtain an ATAS certificate before a CoS can be issued.

20. Raising the contract

20.1 To initiate the contract process the recruiting manager will need to liaise with their Departmental Administrator who has been trained on and has access to MyHR Departmental Transactions. The Departmental Administrator will raise a new contract request and ensure that the payroll deadline is met.

20.2 HR Services will issue a conditional contract where the selected candidate:

  • Has not yet been able to provide their right to work documentation and/or
  • Requires a visa; or,
  • Has a DBS check pending.

The candidate must not start work until the above documents have been obtained and submitted to HR Services, and a start date has been agreed.

21. References

21.1 The reference request template at Appendix 6 or Appendix 7 should be used. UCL strongly discourages the use of verbal references as this can eliminate objectivity; introduce discrimination and bias; and there is no written record.

21.2 For internal candidates who are current UCL employees, Recruiting Managers will seek a written reference from the candidate’s current Line Manager once they have accepted a conditional offer.

21.3 For external candidates who are not a UCL employee, Recruiting Managers will request at least two written references once the candidate has accepted a conditional offer. The references must be from their current and/or most recent employers, and/or course tutor if they are currently a student.   References should cover at least the last three years of their employment.

21.4 Should the amount of sickness absence recorded in the reference be 12 or more working days (pro rata), or 6 or more episodes in any rolling 12-month period, or a single period of four weeks or more this would trigger UCL’s management of Sickness absence policy, and therefore recruiting managers may ask the candidate for more information. Line managers should consider that sickness absence is not indicative of performance and suitability for the role And high sickness absence in a previous role is not necessarily linked to future absence. Advice may be sought from the HRBP and a referral may be made to occupational health for further advice upon a candidate joining, and for reasonable adjustments to be put in place, if required.

Should high levels of absence continue due to ongoing health problems or disability, absence should be managed throughout probation.

21.5 In exceptional circumstances, references may be taken up prior to interview for Academic and Research posts, where it is deemed necessary to assist in establishing the quality and significance of their research.  References may only be collected at this stage, or prior to making a conditional offer of employment, if the candidate agrees to this in the application form.

21.6 References must be satisfactory to UCL and UCL has the right to withdraw an offer of employment if a reference is deemed to be unsatisfactory.

21.7 If line managers have concerns about the content of a reference, they should seek advice from their HRBP.

22. Employing a young worker

Managers are responsible for checking whether their recruit is under the age of 18.  Young people (under the age of 18) and their managers must familiarise themselves with the restrictions on activities they can undertake, as outlined in the Safety Services Guidance on Young People.  Both parties must also be fully conversant with UCL’s Safeguarding Policy.

23. Relocation scheme

If the successful candidate needs to move to London and is grade 8 or above, they may be eligible for help with their relocation costs.

Staff relocating to the UK will also find this guide useful.

24. Induction

Once a start date has been agreed, the Recruiting Manager is responsible for preparing a comprehensive induction programme for the new employee in line with the Induction and Probation Procedures.

25. Raising a concern

Any employee or applicant with concerns about the application of this policy in a specific case should raise their concerns in writing with the recruiting manager or the Head of Recruitment, j.phillips@ucl.ac.uk

26. Monitoring and review

The Recruitment team, Employment Policy Team and HR Services will keep the monitoring of the Recruitment and Selection Policy and operation of this policy under review.

27. Appendices

Appendix 1 Roles and Responsibilities

Role             Responsible for
Dean / Head of Department
  • Evaluating the need for the post in the context of the departmental staffing plan and budget.
  • Ensuring the competence of all employees involved in recruitment decisions within the department.
  • Management of local recruitment processes and fair recruitment decisions in compliance with this policy.
Recruiting Manager
  • Managing and operating a fair, consistent and legally compliant recruitment process in line with the principles of this policy.
Department HR/ Departmental Administrator
  • Supporting the recruitment manager in co-ordinating recruitment activities; ensuring all steps of the procedure are undertaken and ensuring that all administration is implemented
  • Providing financial approval to commence the recruitment of a vacancy and approval of offers where required.
HR Services
  • Managing and providing HR support/advice on job advertising, offer, contract and on-boarding stages of the recruitment process.
HR Business Partner
  • Providing HR advice on grading of posts, content of job descriptions/person specifications, and appropriate salary levels
  • Providing support and guidance on all aspects of the Recruitment and Selection policy and procedures and related policies/procedures.


Other Appendices

HR Employment Policy Team 
July 2022