Human Resources

Interviewing and assessing applicants


Interviews are an important part of the whole recruitment and selection process. They are the first real introduction the candidate has to life at the University so how they are conducted will leave a lasting impression on both successful and unsuccessful candidates.

What do I need to consider?

  • Time between shortlisting and interviews

We recommend when planning recruitment, to allow a minimum of 7 working days between the advert closing date and interviewing, for shortlisting purposes, HR processes and also to give candidates time to prepare, especially if they are required to give a presentation.

  • Equality and Diversity in the Workplace and Unconscious Bias Awareness

The Equality and Diversity Unit provide a wide range of training/briefings, including staff induction, e-learning, management briefings and bespoke sessions as requested by business areas including Promoting Equality, Dignity and Respect in the Workplace and Understanding Unconscious Bias. To request access to this training, please email

The UK Department of Communities and Local Government fund the Transgender e-learning package which is provided by the Gender Identity, Research and Education Society (GIRES).
Other training & information on Unconscious Bias is available at Managing Unconscious Bias (Facebook) and Unconscious Bias@work (Google) . You may also wish to consider completing the Harvard Bias Implicit Analysis Test. This test is anonymous and for your information only and is not a requirement of the University training.

What do I need to do?

     1. Arrange Interviews

We recommend the time between submitted shortlisting decisions and interviews includes a weekend for candidates to prepare, especially if they are required to give a presentation.

To ensure the best applicants are found, and to leave all candidates with the reassurance that they have been treated fairly, interviewers should ensure they conduct the process in a professional, unbiased and effective manner and that they have evidence of clear decisions based on the person specification.

Positive discrimination; that is, giving applicants from disadvantaged or under-represented groups preferential treatment in the recruitment process based only on their protected characteristic (gender, age or ethnicity for example), regardless of their ability to do the job is unlawful. Therefore, the University would not offer a job to anyone purely to improve the University’s under representation from a particular protected characteristic. Each candidate is considered on their merit against the job description and person specification

  • Skype interviews

Skype can be used as a first stage selection process for large numbers of candidates. It can be an alternative for a candidate who cannot attend on the day/s selected for interviews, where a suitable time for both candidate and panel can be arranged or where the candidate lives outside the UK. Using Skype interviews saves money by cutting out the costs of travel expenses for the University.

Using Skype also eliminates potential pressures for the candidate in organising travel to the interview, allowing them to focus on preparing for the interview. Skype also allows the candidate to make a judgment on whether they want to make a commitment to the role.

There can be drawbacks to using Skype, it relies on the candidates having access to Skype, there could be time differences to allow for and potential technical issues. If you do decide to offer this type of interview, please inform HR at the shortlisting stage so that this can be offered to the candidate/s. HR will advise you of what you need to do in order to set up a Skype interview.

    2. Obtain references

All new appointments to the University must have a minimum of two references which cover the past three years of employment (if the candidate has no employment experience from the past three years, a study reference will be acceptable) to meet the University’s requirements. References for ALL employment in the past three years will need to be taken up and one referee must be the applicant's current or most recent line manager. If an applicant has worked for the same employer for 3 or more years, we will require two references from this place of employment.

Verbal offers can be made, subject to satisfactory references.

This Flowchart provides guidance on obtaining references for Grade 7 and above, Academic and Research staff.

The trained interviewer (TI) should check before the interview that the applicant's CVs contains no gaps and that the referees include both the current and a previous employer/s. These can be confirmed at  interview. When a candidate is told that they are successful and once an offer has been verbally accepted, references should then be requested.

    3. Check an individual's Right to Work in the UK

As an employer, we have a duty to prevent illegal working. The Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 says that employers should conduct document checks which show that your potential employee has the right to work in the UK and is permitted to do the type of work you are offering.

You are required to undertake the right to work check within a reasonable time period before the employment commences. You should not make assumptions about a person’s right to work in the UK or their immigration status on the basis of their colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins. The best way to ensure that you do not discriminate is to treat all job applicants fairly and make the same document checks at interview stage.

The Right to Work Document Checklist provides guidance on checking an individual’s right to work in the UK.

    4. Provide feedback

The trained interviewer or chair will inform the successful candidate verbally and confirm offer details. Once the individual has verbally accepted, the TI will update the online recruitment system. You can find further information to assist with this in our e-recruitment user-guides.
The unsuccessful candidates will be informed by email via the online recruitment system. All internal staff should be provided with the opportunity to receive feedback by telephone or in person.

    5. Update the online recruitment system

Our e-recruitment user-guides and process flow-charts contain lots of helpful information and guidance around accessing and updating the online recruitment system including filing application and assessment documentation.

    6. Information about claims for interview expenses

Departments should keep hold of candidates' interview expenses form and receipts after their interview. If the candidate is unsuccessful, the form can be signed off and sent to the Payments section within the Finance Dept for action. The form for successful candidates should be kept until their first day of employment. It can then be forwarded with receipts, to Payments for action.

If the successful candidate declines the job or fails to turn up, interview expense claims are not paid and therefore any forms and/or receipts should be destroyed.

What else do I need to know?

As part of Recruitment and Selection training, a module is available on Interview Practice. Find out about all the Recruitment and Selection training modules.

The HR department produce regular e-bulletins which provide news, updates and details of system and process developments, click to download the latest issue.

How do I get help?

Use this help form to get in touch (please note that you need to be logged into your UoP staff email account to access this form).