Writing a Job Spec

Before you place a job advertisement or register your vacancy with a recruitment consultancy, it’s wise to invest some time evaluating just what it is you’re after.

The job specification is a tailored description of the vacancy, including the responsibilities of the incumbent and goals of the job. The person specification is a profile of the person you consider best fits the bill. Preparing a detailed spec helps you to focus on exactly what skills you seek. The finished document aids your HR department or recruitment consultant in identifying candidates for you to interview. It’s also a great exercise in re-evaluating your departmental needs, giving you the opportunity to juggle around responsibilities amongst your team if necessary.

Job and person specifications help candidates. They get a better grasp of the job for which they are applying; helping to attract those who might not otherwise apply and narrowing the field by hopefully excluding those who don’t fit the bill or who don’t even like the sound of the job. Many employers make the mistake of advertising a vague-sounding job, with the intention of seeing ‘who turns up’. This invariably leads to lost time spent sifting through irrelevant applications or interviewing candidates who, when confronted with the reality of the position, discover the role is not for them after all.

The specifications you prepare will help you evaluate CV’s more speedily and ruthlessly, as well as providing a list of pertinent questions for interview.

The Person Spec

Skills & Abilities

Abilities you expect your ideal candidate to demonstrate.
Think in terms of technical, organisational, communicative or creative skills.
Apply each skill required with the specific job tasks.

Qualifications & Experience

What specific education or course background do you require?
What level of experience (if any) is needed?
Is the candidate required to have held a prior job of similar description?
Length of experience gained – in which specific industries and department.

Character & Personal Qualities

What sort of personality would fit in with your team?
Use descriptive words that would describe the nature of your ideal candidate.
Think of traits that would help them complete the job efficiently.
Character traits of a person with a love of the industry or a similar role.

Ideal Qualities

What other qualities would you like your employee to display?
Include any other areas of the person and job that you have not included.
Think laterally in your descriptions – delve into the underlying nature of the person and job.

Be Specific

By specifying as much as possible your exact needs, jobseekers will know exactly what the job entails and be able to say better if they fulfil your expectations. By specifying exactly who it is you are looking for, you are avoiding the problems that can arise once the successful applicant has actually started work.

Vague (or non-existent) descriptions can even result in an employee leaving prematurely because they have found that the job has not fulfilled their ideals or you can feel continually frustrated due to mistakes that have been made in the job because the employee has not known the job requirements. In essence, a job or person spec is a communicative document between you and your department, your HR or personnel officer and your job applicant.

Interviews Tips

Interviews can be highly stressful for candidates no matter how confident they are therefore it is important that they are greeted in a friendly and warm manner.

Let your receptionist know that you are interviewing so that the candidates receive a warm welcome.

If you are planning to show the candidates around the company, forewarn your team.

Make sure that the interview starts on time, this shows respect and consideration.

Remember – don’t judge a book by its cover. Have an open mind when you meet candidates and give them a chance to sell themselves. Quite often the ones you least expect have the best skills for the role. Withhold your judgment until you have had the chance to thoroughly evaluate their skills, capabilities and potential.

Begin the interview with some relaxed and low-key questions. This gives them a chance to settle into interview mode and perhaps shake off any nerves.

When you begin to get into the interview properly take the time to first tell the candidate about the role they have applied for. Do not go through every single detail of the role (as they should have read the job description) but briefly summarise the position, outline key responsibilities, challenges, what is expected from this role and whom they will be reporting to.

Remember to give the candidate a chance to talk. You are there to ask the questions and explain important facts however it should be the candidate doing most of the talking. It is their opportunity to shine so you need to allow them to do that!

You need to have the candidate’s CV with you and you should have gone through it and outlined points of interest and things that you may want to question. Take notes through out the interview filling in all the gaps that may be in their CV.

Be careful what you ask. There are many things that as an interviewer you are not legally allowed to ask. The best way to avoid asking illegal questions is by only asking questions that relate to the job.

Give candidates time to ask questions themselves. This is important for them to clear up any issues that they may have with the role and also allows you as the interviewer to see how prepared the candidate is for the interview.

Before you wind up the interview give the candidate some feedback. Let them know the process and what they should expect. It is a good idea to give time frames so that candidates can expect when to hear whether they will be going forward or not with the role.