UCL Human Resources


Recruitment and Selection Procedure

Policy regarding the recruitment and selection of new staff.

See Internal Recruitment Pilot Scheme



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.


2.1 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:

Before starting recruitment

3.1 Recruiting managers and those involved in the selection process should have completed the Fair and Inclusive Recruitment training. 

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

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

3.4 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.

3.5 The Recruiting Manager should review the UCL Guide to Positive Action and Inclusive Recruitment and the Accessible Recruitment guidance produced by UCL's Digital Accessibility team.

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’

4.5 In line with UCL's commitment to Open Science, the Person Specification for Research roles should include the desirable criterion of 'Commitment to and knowledge of Open Science principles'.


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.

Approval to recruit

6.1 Financial approval will take place in Talentlink, UCL’s end-to-end recruitment system.   For roles that have a core/school element of funding (either fully or partly) approval must be given before the role can be advertised. For research-funded, grant funded, or roles subject to NHS Billing, approval will take place once an appointable candidate is identified. Visit Financial Authorisation Process for Recruitment.

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


7.1 The Recruiting Manager or recruitment administrator will set up the vacancy within Talentlink.  The Talentlink user guides provide more information. 

7.2 Please review the job advert template guidanceNormal 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.

7.3 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.

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

7.5 When selecting the most effective methods for advertising posts, the recruiting manager should consider the reach of those advertising channels and where possible refer to data held by the central recruitment team to use the most cost-effective (this does not always mean the cheapest) channel that will ensure a diverse applicant pool. The recruitment team will regularly publish data on the effectiveness of routes to market by skillset to aid this decision.

7.6 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.

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

7.8 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.

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

7.10 Hiring managers and recruitment administrators will have the ability to publish to UCL’s approved agency suppliers, job boards and partners straight from Talentlink.  The cost of advertising will be cross charged to PTAE codes linked to the funding of the role, or to the PTAE code identified in the Talentlink requisition.

Advertising duration

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 Talentlink to progress the vacancy to external advert but should also extend the redeployee advert closing date to match the date of the external advert.

8.3 The job should be advertised on UCL’s jobs@UCL page for at least two weeks.

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.

9.4 For Professional Services roles and roles within VP offices, the central recruitment team will agree a routes to market strategy with the hiring manager and engage agencies or executive search firms if necessary.  

9.5 Roles using search firms or agencies should be released to those suppliers via Talentlink.  Those organisations will submit applications for candidates they wish to put forward into Talentlink. CVs should not be emailed directly to recruiting managers.  

9.6 If the agency a recruiting manager wishes to use is not pre-loaded into Talentlink, they should not be instructed until they have agreed to UCL’s standard terms of business.  


10.1 All candidates will apply via Talentlink, 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.

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 Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic employee available 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 Introduction to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion 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.
  • In circumstances where interview panel members are not able to attend a shortlisting process, they may provide their written feedback to the panel chair who will share with other panel members to consider as part of the shortlisting.  

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 'Talentlink', in accordance with the UCL Retention Schedule.


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, including the supporting statement, CV and any additional assessments undertaken prior to shortlisting.  Panel members should ensure they only assess criteria it is possible to assess based on application only (for example, it is not possible to assess some soft skills, such as “good interpersonal skills” at this stage) and how that evidence meets the Person Specification criteria.

13.3 A shortlisting grid is available to assist managers to assess applications consistently against the person specification criteria. Shortlisting decisions should be recorded in the shortlisting step in Talentlink for each candidate. 

13.4 Hiring managers or recruitment administrators should ensure all candidates who have applied receive notification of the decision of the shortlisting panel on their application, utilising the automated communications in Talentlink. 

13.5 Although volumes of applications make it difficult to provide detailed feedback to all applicants, all internal applicants should receive feedback on their application if requested.

13.6 Priority should always be given to internal candidates in the redeployee pool before other internal or external candidates are considered.  

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 using the automated communications in Talentlink.  It is usually best practice to allow five working days notice 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 Talentlink.

14.2 Candidates will be asked in the automated communications to provide evidence of their right to work (unless the candidate and role are eligible for immigration sponsorship) and bring 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.

Pre-employment screening checks including Right to Work check

15.1 Evidence of right to work and qualifications (unless the candidate is internal and already employed by UCL) must be checked before the candidate starts any work at UCL.

15.2 Information on undertaking a right to work check can be found here:  Guide to right to work checks.

15.3 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 also be completed, if they are a condition of employment for the job, before commencing employment. The hiring manager or recruitment co-ordinator is responsible for certifying the completion of these checks in Talentlink.

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.

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.

Conditional offer

18.1 The recruiting manager may issue a conditional offer of employment to the successful applicant using the template letter in Talentlink.  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 Talentlink will send out an automated form with the offer in principle asking the candidate if they require any reasonable adjustments to perform the role, or asking them to discuss with their intended line manager. The hiring manager or recruitment co-ordinator should monitor Talentlink for a response to this request to ensure adjustments are in place before the candidate’s 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 Talentlink.

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.

Raising the contract

20.1 To initiate the contract process the recruiting manager or administrator will need to raise a new contract request in Talentlink within 48 hours of a verbal offer. Hiring managers and departmental administrators should not wait until payroll deadlines to do this.  This should ensure UCL meets its legal requirement to provide all employees with a contract of employment by their start date.  

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.


21.1 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.

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.

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.


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.

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, angela.clark@ucl.ac.uk 

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.


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 on 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 
May 2024