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Recruitment planning

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When someone leaves, the most frequent notice period is one month. Yet recruiting a new person can take three months or more.

It is therefore important to proceed quickly with recruitment. Recruiting people is a project with many stages. The checklist below outlines the key stages you will need to follow. For further information, you may wish to refer to the Acas guide to recruiting staff.

Recruitment checklist


Notes to assist you

Establish the job that needs to be done, the desired duration of the work, the salary and the budget available.

Draft a job description and person specification accordingly, or update an existing one.


There is no one right way to draft a job description, but try and make it clear using straightforward language. Generally, you should specify around eight to ten key responsibilities/accountabilities.

Draft your person specification carefully – a good one increases the reliability of your selection process. See Increasing the reliability of your selection process for further information.

You can download a template job description and person specification on the Acas website.

Gain approval to recruit as needed in your organisation.


Advertise your job to candidates.

It is good practice to advertise vacancies internally.

When choosing the best place to advertise externally, think about where your potential recruits might look for jobs, such as:

  • your own website
  • national press
  • or other online recruitment sites
  • The Guardian online
  • local newspapers
  • local libraries
  • the free Jobcentre Plus service
  • or a combination of these.

NB if you advertise on the charity job website, there is free cross-posting to the NCVO website.

You may also wish to consider using recruitment agencies to source candidates, but be aware that the fees can be 15%-25% of the first year’s salary.

Produce an application form.


If you don’t already have an application form, you can find some template forms on the Acas website.

Application forms have the advantage of increasing the consistency and reliability of your selection process. Information on each applicant is presented in a common format which reduces the possibility of bias. There may however be some posts where CVs are the norm and you might limit the pool of candidates by asking for application forms. You will need to make an informed judgement on whether or not to use application forms. 

Put together an application pack.

The pack will normally include:

  • covering letter
  • application form (if used)
  • job description
  • person specification
  • equality/diversity policy
  • a summary of terms and conditions for the job
  • equality monitoring form
  • some information about the team/your organisation
  • your organisation’s job applicant privacy notice (or general privacy notice incorporating information about job applicants).

The application pack can be put on your website. Alternatively, you can email the pack to enquirers. 

Establish a panel for the selection process.


It’s a good idea to put dates for shortlisting and interviews in diaries in advance, to minimise the potential for delays.

After the closing date, the panel should shortlist applicants for interview based on the person specification.


The equality monitoring form should be removed by someone not involved in the shortlisting process and set aside to review later (see below).

Shortlist up to six to seven applicants. Undertake a structured approach, scoring the applications against the criteria in the person specification. This will help avoid unconscious bias (see Equality and diversity).

Write to/email shortlisted applicants to invite them to interview.

In your letter, state that you will make reasonable adjustments to the process, if required by a disabled candidate or to accommodate religious beliefs, for example.

Prepare interview questions.

Your questions should be based on the criteria in the person specification. See Increasing the reliability of your selection process.

Design other selection tests as required.

See Increasing the reliability of your selection process.

Prepare interview venue.

Ensure, as far as is possible, that the venue is accessible and that it portrays a good impression of your organisation.

Interview applicants based on the person specification.


For interview questions and how to probe, see Increasing the reliability of your selection process.

Consider involving service users in the interview process where possible.

Select the most suitable applicant taking account of interview scores and offer them the position on a provisional basis.

See Offering the job and post-offer checks.

Inform unsuccessful applicants once the position has been provisionally accepted and provide feedback if requested.

Focus on evidence, eg:

  • ‘the criteria we were looking for were…’
  • ‘the evidence of meeting the criteria you displayed was...’
  • ‘we did not see evidence of…’

Review references; undertake immigration, asylum and nationality, DBS and any other checks such as qualification certificates (as required for the post).

See Offering the job and post-offer checks.

Maintain records for at least six months, in case of enquiries (or, rarely, employment tribunal claims).

Remember that applicants may request to see any interview notes.

Ensure all papers relating to the successful applicant are transferred to their personnel file.


Go through the equal opportunities monitoring forms to see if your organisation is attracting and selecting a cross-section of applicants and to assess for any unjustified barriers.


It is good practice to monitor each recruitment exercise, to assess whether you are attracting applicants from a range of backgrounds, and how different applicants fare in the selection process. Your funders may also expect this of you. For guidance on how to monitor, see Acas’ Prevent discrimination: Support equality (pdf, 419KB).

Having reviewed your monitoring statistics and if needed, consider reviewing your advertising and recruitment processes accordingly.

Page last edited Apr 06, 2020

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