Introduction to this document

Job description and person specification

A job description sets out the main details of the job, including job title, job duties and responsibilities. A person specification describes the level of qualification, knowledge, skills and competencies required of the successful candidate. Make sure you have drawn these up using our forms before you even begin the recruitment process.

Defining the ideal candidate

Our Job Description and Person Specification will provide you with the basic information that you need to draft job advertisements and assess candidates. Our job description will clarify the purpose, duties and responsibilities of the job. Our person specification will aim to identify the type of person, in terms of capabilities and competencies, that could best perform the post to be filled. Never be tempted to overstate the duties and responsibilities of the post or the requirements of the person specification. Naturally, you want the best candidate for the job but setting unrealistically high achievement levels increases the problem of attracting that person and can result in job dissatisfaction if they later find their talents are under-utilised.

Fair to all

Be careful about including requirements in the job description or person specification that could potentially place members of one sex, disabled workers or workers of a particular racial group, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age at a disadvantage. This could be discriminatory and unlawful. For example, a requirement that the successful candidate must be able to speak fluent English would have a discriminatory impact on workers whose first language was not English. Unless there is a clear business need for the post holder to be fluent, as opposed to conversant, this would be indirectly discriminatory on racial grounds. Likewise, a requirement that the successful candidate must be under a particular age would amount to direct discrimination of older workers. Unless either being of a particular age is a genuine occupational requirement or the age stipulation can be objectively justified, this would constitute unlawful discrimination on age grounds.