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Interviews and selection

Interview documentation - the Recruitment Team will provide the following documents no later than 2 days before the interview:

  • Finalised interview timetable (PD01 Applicant summary form)
  • Applications forms / references for academic roles
  • Job description
  • Interview notes pack

Review shortlisted applications - allow time to familiarise yourself with the candidates application form / CV / cover letter in advance of the interview.

Prepare your questions – questions should be based on the essential and desirable criteria. Prepare these in advance and decide which panel member is asking which questions. The format of the selection process should be consistent for all candidates.

  • Question or evidence requested needs to relate to the skills, experience and qualifications outlined in the Job Description and Person Specification.
  • Questions should be competency based as much as possible – for example “Please tell us about a time where you successfully completed a complex project working across multiple disciplines”
  • An ideal number of questions would be 6-8
  • Use the Interview notes pack to record your questions in advance

Chairs should be clear on their responsibilities - refer to below section titled; 'Responsibilities of the Chair'.

All panel members please read the section below titled; 'Equality and diversity guidelines for panel member'.

Don’t be late – keep to your interview schedule timings, and allow sufficient time at the end for candidate questions

Introductions - Remember to fully introduce the panel and set out the agenda of the interview. The Chair should explain that the University is committed to equality and diversity throughout the entire selection process.

Recording notes -

  • All panel members may take notes but must only use the Interview Notes Pack to record notes – all records must be kept for 12 months following the interview process for all candidates, longer for successful candidate
  • Panel members should not score questions – this will be done by the Chair, in consultation with the panel, at the end of the process
  • During the wrap up session the Chair should record the consensus score for each question, the concluding comments, and feedback for the candidates.
  • The Chair has the final decision-making authority where the panel is divided.
  • Chair must complete final page of the Interview Pack

Right to Work check – It’s essential you check candidates Right to Work in the UK documentation. See instructions below on how to do this check.

Academic/Professional Qualifications - If you have specified academic and/or professional qualifications in the essential criteria of your Person Specification, it is essential that you take certifed copies of these at interview.

  • Decision – agree on the successful candidate to appoint
  • Send completed Interview Notes Pack - to the Recruiter for your Faculty/Service
  • Complete the final tab ‘Interview Outcome’ on the PD01 Applicant Summary - this was provided to you prior to interview. Send it back to your Recruiter
  • Start date - please do not agree a start date any less than 2 weeks from date of offer
  • Complete the appointment tab on your eSR1 once you have made an offer to a candidate

Responsibilities of the Chair


  • Promote fairness and open competition at every stage
  • Ensure that key decisions around candidate selection are objective, based upon the person specification and that these decisions can be justified
  • Ensure the University’s Equality and Diversity policy is adhered to and that no discriminatory behavior takes place
  • Be aware of the University’s Codes of Conduct
  • Be the University’s lead witness should a selection decision be challenged in an employment tribunal.
  • It’s recommended that Chairs have attended the Selection, Interview and Unconscious Bias training course available on Learn Upon.

Selection panel

  • Ensure correct selection panel composition (including mixed gender)


  • Ensure that selection decisions are taken against the person specification and in line with the University’s equal opportunities standards



  • All panel members conduct a fair, objective and confidential assessment of each candidate’s suitability for the role
  • Assessment criteria, processes (interview questions/tests/tasks etc.) and feedback are fair, reliable and consistent
  • Panel’s consensus score for each question for each candidate is recorded and returned to the recruitment team, along with all notes made in the interview
  • That evidence of a candidate’s Right to Work is certified before an individuals' first day at work and as soon as possible after a candidate has accepted an offer of employment.

Offers / feedback

  • After interview, the Chair or nominated panel member should make the offer to the successful candidate***
  • An offer of employment should be made subject to standard pre-employment checks
  • Once an offer has been accepted, contact the unsuccessful candidates and notify them of the outcome and provide feedback (ideally within 2 working days of the interview)
  • For internal candidates - unsuccessful internal candidates should be able to receive verbal / face to face feedback if requested

***Additional points to consider if appointing international candidates:

The UK operates a new points-based system for the Skilled Worker Visa and this now applies to EU as well as non-EU candidates.  If you plan to offer the role to an international candidate who will need a visa to work in the UK please contact your recruiter before making the offer. We will need to check the job and candidate are eligible for sponsorship for the New Skilled Worker Visa or the Global Talent visa.

Deciding starting salary

  • The Chair and/or Recruiting Manager should discuss the starting salary to be offered to the preferred candidate.
  • Normally this should be the bottom point of the salary scale.  If there is evidence to support someone being offered a salary which is higher than the bottom of the band please contact your HRBP/Advisor to discuss this and to obtain approval

 Additional things to consider

  • Available Funding - the salary range for appointment approved on the e-SR1 (i.e. an appointment may not be made above the highest point for which funding is available without further consultation with your HRBP
  • Comparability within the University and the Faculty/Service - with existing staff of similar relevant experience and skills
  • Salary increments - Subject to satisfactory performance and a minimum of six months’ service in the grade, increments are payable on 1 August each year until the top normal progression point of the grade is reached.  Progression into and through the contribution points is subject to performance in the role

The University has a duty to ensure that job applicants are not subject to discrimination on the grounds of sex, marital status, civil partnership status, trans-gender status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, race, religion or belief, disability and age.

Decisions on recruitment and selection should be based on objective, job related criteria. The University seeks to ensure best practice and in so doing ensure compliance with relevant legislation.

Where can I find the University policy on equality and diversity?

What practical steps should we take to reduce unfair treatment?

Advertising: careful consideration should be given to the wording used in job adverts to ensure that they are not written is such a way that stereotypes or encourages people to believe that the position is only suitable for certain groups of people. Consideration should also be given to which media is used for advertising in order to ensure that applications from some sections of the community are not excluded or limited.

Person specification: your criteria for selection should relate to the requirements of the job, relevant qualifications and relevant experience. The person specification should be drawn up objectively, taking care to ensure that all the criteria included are appropriate and relevant to the performance of the job in question.

Criteria used in recruitment may sometimes amount to indirect discrimination against people in certain groups, eg women, overseas nationals or people in a particular age group. Indirect discrimination occurs where a requirement applied to all job applicants has a disproportionate adverse effect on members of one group compared with another. Unless the criterion in question can be shown to be appropriate and necessary for the effective performance of the job, it will be unlawful.

Shortlisting: when shortlisting takes place, it should be undertaken consistently and against the objective criteria set out in the job description and person specification. It is recommended that a record is kept of the criteria under which job applicants are shortlisted.

Interview: if you are the Chair you should advise your panel to keep to topics that are relevant to the selection process. Marital, family, domestic and age-related matters are likely to be irrelevant and could lead you unwittingly into unfair discrimination eg asking questions about childcare arrangements, in particular when interviewing female candidates, may be interpreted as direct sex discrimination.

The University take gender bias in recruitment seriously.  We have a policy of having male and female staff on the recruitment panel, and require all panel members to be trained in recruitment and selection.

 The article below can help to raise awareness of gender bias in academic recruitment.

 Scientists at Yale conducted experimental research into the gender bias of academic recruitment panels in science faculty.

It was found that both men and women on the recruitment panel are significantly more likely to rate a male candidate as more competent and hireable than an identical female candidate, and to offer a higher starting salary and more career mentoring  to the male candidate compared to the female candidate. This research shows that there is gender bias in the recruitment of academic staff. The researchers show male and female staff were equally likely to demonstrate this bias. (See Moss-Racusin, Dovido, Brescoll, Graham, & Handelsman, 2012).‌

Is there any University training on this?

There is both online and face to face training available. Only staff who have completed the University's recruitment online training course are ‘licensed’ to be on a recruitment panel. For staff the online Recruitment and Selection course can be accessed via your LearnUpon Dashboard. If you have not been automatically loaded onto the course you can self enrol via the catalogue.  Panel members who are not University employees are still required to complete the online training and will need to be given an external LearnUpon account, please contact to request access. This is important as the University would be liable if a claim is made against you following a selection process and training has not been completed by a panel member.

What is the difference between direct and indirect discrimination?

Direct discrimination: treating one candidate less favourably then another purely on the grounds of their age, disability, gender, race etc without justification.


  • Not employing a woman because of concerns that she may want to start a family
  • Not considering a person with a disability without looking at whether they meet the selection criteria and whether any reasonable adjustments can be made.

Indirect discrimination: operating a practice, criteria or provision that applies to everyone, but that indirectly (whether intentionally or not) puts some groups or individuals at a disadvantage compared to others without justification on other grounds.


  • using word of mouth and informal networks as the primary source for academic appointments is likely to disadvantage groups who are currently under-represented at this level, eg black and minority ethnic (BME) or female candidates
  • including a specific academic qualification in the selection criteria excludes those who have achieved an equivalent standard of knowledge and skill through other, equivalent routes. 

Women and BME staff are under-represented in my area. Can I select a candidate on that basis to improve the balance?

No. That would be positive discrimination (ie treating those from under represented groups more favourably to the exclusion of others) and that is unlawful. However, positive action is allowed. You are permitted to encourage applications from under represented groups eg

  • include statements such as “We encourage applications from women and ethnic minorities, who are currently under-represented in this part of the University” in adverts
  • target advertising to reach under-represented groups.

Disability confident employer

The University is committed to interviewing all applicants declaring a disability who meet the minimum essential criteria for a job vacancy. It is the responsibility of the recruitment panel to ensure that any disabled applicant who meets the minimum essential criteria is offered an interview.

Panel members should also be aware of the duty to make reasonable adjustments for any candidate with a disability. Examples of reasonable adjustments could include:

  • changing the interview location for an applicant who has mobility difficulties 
  • ensuring there is no background noise for a candidate with a hearing impairment 
  • allowing an applicant with a learning disability to be accompanied by a helper at the interview.
  • If an interivew is taking place in person, candidates will have been asked to bring proof of their Right to Work in the UK to their interview (the original documents).
  • You (or a nominated member of staff) should check each candidate’s documents and certify them as follows: ‘I certify that this is a true copy of the original seen by XXX (insert name) on XXX (insert date)’.
  • After the interview attach the successful candidate’s RTW documents to the SR1 appointment tab
  • Without evidence of eligibility to work in the UK, the appointed candidate(s) will not be able to commence their employment with the University.
  • If documentation is not verified at interview stage, then the successful candidate(s) can bring it in before or on their first day. If this does not happen, regrettably the new starter(s) will be sent home without pay until they can produce evidence of their right to work in the UK.
  • For more information on how to verify RTW, (including how to verify when an interview has taken place remotely), please see Right to work documents section
  • Candidates applying for a post at Grade E or above, can claim expenses using the Interview Expenses Form providing they are travelling from outside of EX1, EX2, EX3 and EX4 areas (for Exeter posts) or TR10 area (for Cornwall posts). Please note that claims for subsistence and accommodation can be added in the additional comments section of the form. Detailed guidance can be found in the Interview Expenses Notes. Note that candidates normally expect to be given a minimum of 7 working days notice prior to interview.
  • If payments needs to be made into an international bank account, then the International Payment Request form should be used.
  • Candidates should complete the relevant form and send this to the chair of the panel/recruitment contact within the relevant Faculty/Service. Interview expenses are now processed directly in T1. Guidance on this can be found on the Finance Services web-pages
  • Candidates are now able to book accommodation directly and claim this back from the Faculty/Service if they are unable to travel to and from the University all within the same day (Max £80.00).