Author: Jim Riley Last updated: Sunday 23 September, 2012
What is a person specification?
A person specification describes the requirements a job
holder needs to be able to perform the job satisfactorily. These are likely
- Education and qualifications
- Training and experience
- Personal attributes / qualities
How does this compare with a job description?
A job description describes the job ; a person specification
describes the person needed to do the job. A person specification can, therefore,
form the basis for the selection of the most suitable person to fill the
How should a person specification be created?
The most common approach now used by recruiters is to use
what are known as "competencies" to design the person specification. These
are then classified as "essential" or "desired" to determine which are most
Competencies might include some or all of the following:
- Physical attributes (e.g. state of health, aged, speech)
- Attainments (e.g. highest level of education completed,
relevant market experience, ability to supervise/manage)
- Personal circumstances (e.g. ability to work shifts;
full or part time)
Person specifications have to be prepared and used with
great care. In particular, it is important to ensure that the list of essential
or desired competencies does not lead to unlawful discrimination against