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Recruitment - person specification

Author: Jim Riley  Last updated: Sunday 23 September, 2012

Person specification

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 to include:

- 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 job.

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 important.

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)

- Aptitudes (e.g. verbal reasoning; numerical aptitude)

- Interests (social activities; sporting activities)

- 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 potential employees.

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