Recruiting & Interviewing

Writing a job description and the person specification

Vacancies can’t be filled successfully unless the job has been accurately defined in the first place. This is as helpful for you, the employer, as it is for potential candidates. Think about what skills, knowledge and experience you are looking for.

Writing a job description

Preparing and writing a job description is not a legal requirement but it can be useful for:

  • deciding the scope of the job
  • making clear to job applicants what they will have to do in the job
  • writing a job advertisement or briefing an employment agency
  • assessing a job holder’s performance
  • working out a new employee’s training needs

A job description should include:

  • the job title
  • the position in the company including the job titles of the person the employee reports to and of those who report to them, if any
  • the location of the job
  • a summary of the general nature and objectives of the job
  • a list of the main duties or tasks of the employee

The person specification

You might find it helpful to write down the qualities you are looking for in a person to fill the job that is vacant. This includes the knowledge, experience and skills you would like them to have. Separate these into those which are essential for the job and those which are not essential but would be helpful. It’s essential not to discriminate unfairly – see the Business Link guide on how to prevent discrimination and value diversity .

A person specification is not a legal requirement but will be useful in:

  • writing a job advertisement or using an employment agency
  • defining the essential factors you are looking for so that you can reject unsuitable applicants
  • defining desirable, but not essential, features so you can choose the most suitable candidate
  • making sure the individual will help to fulfil the aims of your business


If you are recruiting a manager you will also want to identify what level of responsibility they will hold and draft the job description to reflect that.

The recruitment process should be structured so as to help you to identify the candidate most able to do a job at this level, for example whether they demonstrate leadership and strategic thinking.

Directors: executive and non-executive

The first directors are appointed when the company is registered. Subsequently a nominations committee of the board of directors will need to oversee the recruitment and interviews of new directors and non-executive directors.

You can find more information on the appointment of directors and the appointment of non-executive directors on the Ernst and Young website .

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