The Appointments Procedure
This procedure is applicable to the following categories of staff:
Dean of Faculty Reader/Clinical Academic Staff
Head of School Senior Lecturer
Senior Teaching Fellow
Director of Institutes
*The applicant pool for internal trawl for Deans of Faculty, Head of School will be the relevant constituent group i.e. Faculty, School or Institute. For Pro-Vice-Chancellor, the applicant pool will be members of the University’s Professoriate (excluding honorary appointments).
The University reserves the right to externally advertise certain posts normally deemed to be appointed by internal trawl.
Academic-Related and Support Staff
These posts are normally advertised externally. (See paragraph 2.4).
- Academic-related including: Administrative/Library/Computer/Other Related Staff
- Technical Staff
- Clerical/Secretarial Staff
- Operational Staff
Academic Management Posts
Posts such as Directors of Research, Directors of Teaching, etc. do not attract a salary and, due to the fixed-term nature of these posts, they are normally appointed internally within the School/Faculty. Personnel staff are not normally directly involved in such appointments. The key principles outlined in Section 1, 1.3 equally apply to these positions although the recruitment process is undertaken at School/Faculty level. The University’s recruitment documentation should be used and retained.
Circumstances When Withdrawal From a Panel May Be Appropriate
In circumstances where a panel member (including an external assessor) is related to or has close personal links to an applicant for a post, this should be disclosed to the Personnel Officer. In such circumstances the panel member must withdraw.
Occasions When Public Advertisement May Not Be Appropriate
As part of the University’s commitment to the principles of equality of opportunity, it normally advertises posts publicly except for those specified in paragraph 2.1. There are other occasions when public advertisement may not be appropriate and these occasions must be the subject of consultation and agreement with the Personnel Department. Examples where public advertisements may not be appropriate are found in Annex 3.
Redeployment of Existing Staff
The University’s general policy is that appointments should be made as a result of advertising a post. It also recognises that from time to time it may be necessary to redeploy existing staff into vacancies or newly created posts in order to avoid implementing redundancy procedures, in order to comply with the reasonable adjustment duty under the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) and in other exceptional circumstances. In such circumstances, the Personnel Department will consult with the line manager to facilitate the redeployment of staff.
In accordance with the agreed redeployment section (Section 8) within the redundancy procedures, redeployment of staff will not occur when the vacant post is considered to be specialist in nature, for example, requiring specific qualifications and/or experience not matched by the individual.
Guidance can be found in the approved redundancy procedures:
The University has in place a policy dealing with former employees who have been dismissed from their post, not confirmed in post, or who availed of an opportunity for premature retirement. In summary, the policy sets out time limits during which applications for employment will not be considered. In addition, a student of the University who has been expelled, instructed to withdraw or suspended, may also be considered to be an ineligible applicant, if the University considers that the reasons for expulsion or other action is sufficiently serious in nature.
It is the responsibility of the Personnel Department in consultation with Heads of School and Directors to ensure the application of the Ineligible Applicants’ Policy.
The University recognises that it is appropriate to provide potential applicants with the fullest information through the Search or “Pre-Interview Discussion” process. Canvassing occurs when an applicant, or an advocate of an applicant, endeavours to gain unfair advantage in relation to employment. If a member of the Appointments Panel is approached in such circumstances, a record of the nature of the discussion should be made and reported to the Director of Human Resources.
Ultimately it will be for the Director of Human Resources, in consultation with the Head of School and/or Registrar and Chief Operating Officer of the University, to decide whether the applicant should be disqualified from the selection process.
Late applications, ie. those received after the closing date, should not be considered unless it is clear from the postmark, or any other similar information, that it was dispatched in good time but delays in transit, genuinely outside the control of the applicant, occurred.
On occasions where the University is made aware that a disabled applicant could not submit an application form on time for a reason related to his/her disability, the University will allow that late application to be considered by the shortlisting panel provided that the shortlisting process has not yet taken place.
In order to advertise a post, the School/Directorate must provide the Personnel Department with the following completed documentation, which must be based on job related criteria:
- Post Approval Form – Duly authorised
- Job Description (page 26)
- Employee Specification (page 27 or 29)
- Further particulars – normally drawn up by Personnel, after receipt of all other documentation
- Draft Advertisement
- Proposed Appointments Panel Members (see Section 3 or Section 4)
- Supplementary information, if appropriate.
In preparing the documentation, the Head of School/Director or nominee will ensure that Panel Members from the School/Directorate are involved and that the documentation is agreed before forwarding to the Personnel Department.
The final documentation will also be agreed by the Chair of the Panel and the Personnel Officer. The post will be advertised in an appropriate advertising media by the Personnel Department in accordance with advertising guidelines.
Search arrangements will be put in place for appointments to senior positions by the Vice-Chancellor and/or Registrar and Chief Operating Officer. In academic areas the Pro-Vice-Chancellor or Dean will have responsibility for search. As a general rule members of the Search Committee will not be members of the Appointments Panel. If this is not possible the Chair of the Search Committee should discuss the matter with the Director of Human Resources.
Where it is necessary for a member of the Appointments Panel to meet applicants as part of a visit to a School/Department, information relating to the appointment process should not be discussed and extreme care should be exercised in order to ensure that no applicant is seen to be or is receiving preferential treatment. This approach will protect the integrity of the selection procedure while introducing applicants to the University and Northern Ireland.
The Search Procedure is an additional mechanism to assist the normal arrangements for recruitment and selection by open competition and must be operated with sensitivity and care to ensure compliance with current legislation and good practice. It assists the University, like other universities, to bring vacancies to the attention of individuals with specialist knowledge, qualifications and experience.
Occasions may arise when it is appropriate to engage search consultants and this will be undertaken in accordance with the University’s purchasing arrangements.
It is usual and reasonable for applicants for academic and senior non-academic posts to seek detailed information about the post. Applicants may also wish to visit the University to see the facilities and the work undertaken by the Faculty/School/Directorate or Department in question.
Where it is considered reasonable to do so, arrangements will be made to facilitate such requests, as the University considers pre-interview discussions and visits to be an important part of the recruitment process for such posts. Contact names and details of the arrangements for pre-interview discussions and visits will be made known to all applicants in the advertisement or in the recruitment information pack.
Shortlisting is the application of the specific criteria set out in the employee specification. The process requires that the written evidence provided by each applicant should be systematically reviewed by comparing each application against the shortlisting criteria. Care must be taken by panel members not to make assumptions or include any personal knowledge they may have of applicants.
The membership of the shortlisting panel should remain the same at the interview stage unless there are exceptional circumstances. Where such circumstances arise, an appropriate filenote should be completed and retained on the recruitment file. The Personnel Officer will be present at all shortlisting meetings and must ensure that shortlisting is carried out in accordance with this Scheme.
The Personnel Officer will complete the agreed shortlisting form on behalf of the panel indicating whether or not each applicant meets the specified criteria. Any written notes/documents from each individual panel member will be returned at the end of the exercise and be retained on the recruitment file.
Applicants who do not meet the essential criteria must not be shortlisted and the reasons clearly recorded on the shortlisting form.
At the shortlisting meeting, the Chair will ensure that the Appointments Panel:
- Understands the process.
- Clarifies the Employee Specification by reviewing the essential and any desirable shortlisting criteria. In exceptional circumstances the essential/desirable criteria may be enhanced, but no new criteria may be introduced.
- Prioritises the desirable criteria.
- Agrees the marking frame and weighting.
- Applies the agreed criteria to the applicants.
- Agrees the areas of core questions.
- Agrees the presentation topic, if required.
- Considers arrangements for shortlisted candidates to visit the Faculty/School /Directorate prior to interview, if appropriate. Takes account of the external assessor’s input.
Shortlisted candidates will be invited to attend for interview and referee reports will be sought in accordance with Section 2.14. Individuals, not shortlisted, will be notified in writing.
Prior to the commencement of the interview, the Chair will ensure that panel members understand the Rating Form and how the factors will be assessed.
The main method of recruiting to posts within the University will be by interview. In many instances additional processes, including testing, presentations, second interviews, in-tray activities, etc. may be used. The University will make, where appropriate, reasonable adjustments in regard to any required selection tests to ensure equality of opportunity for candidates with a disability. Where such processes are to be used, the Appointments Panel should ensure that it is clear how they will be assessed, and if necessary, guidance should be provided by the subject expert(s) or line manager to assist other panel members.
The most effective form of interview is face to face, where the candidate meets all of the panel members. However, it is recognised that there will be a limited number of occasions when a candidate is unable to attend for interview at the arranged time. In such circumstances, consideration may be given to organising a video link or telephone interview. Clearly, the use of such arrangements is not as appropriate as the normal face to face interview and should therefore only be used on an exceptional basis. In exceptional circumstances, the panel may reconvene to interview candidates who were unable to attend on the scheduled interview date.
Referees are asked to comment on the candidate’s abilities, characteristics and skills having regard to the details of the advertised post, ie. job description and further particulars.
In the case of academic and research posts, references which have been received will be made available to the Panel in advance of the interview. Any issues arising from the references should be the subject of panel discussion and agreement on appropriate action.
For academic, academic related and research posts, references will only be requested for shortlisted candidates. For all other posts, references will only be sought for the successful candidate(s).
References are confidential to the members of the Appointments Panel and the contents should not be disclosed to anyone else. Referees, however, need to be made aware that the references provided can be called as evidence in legal proceedings and that, under the Data Protection Act, applicants may have a legal right to see a reference.
The marking system is numerical and includes the facility to weight the factors appropriately. The marking frame and weightings will be agreed at the shortlisting meeting.
For Academic and senior management positions guidance will be sought from the subject expert(s) on the first two factors on the employee specification/rating form, after each candidate has been interviewed. An agreed panel mark will be determined for each of these two factors, which relate to education and qualifications, and experience. Each panel member will be responsible for completing the remaining factors on their own Interview Rating Form, awarding an individual mark and making comments in each section of the Rating Form.
For all other posts, and, when appropriate, advice should be taken from the subject expert(s) on the first two factors, ie. education and qualifications, and experience.
On completion of the interviews, and having taken into consideration the referee reports received, the Chair will ask the panel members to complete their individual ranking according to the marks awarded by that individual. No candidate should be ranked above another by an individual panel member unless that person has scored higher.
The Chair will then seek to establish a consensus rank order, (using the Panel Ranking Form) taking account of each individual’s rank order. The Chair will seek a consensus decision, resorting to a majority decision only in exceptional circumstances. The Panel will determine a consensus rank order for those candidates who are deemed appointable and those who are deemed to be unsuccessful. A reserve list will be prepared, if appropriate.
A summary report of the proceedings will be recorded on the Interview Summary Sheet, clearly specifying the reasons for the decisions reached, paying particular attention to those candidates deemed unsuccessful. The Interview Summary Sheet will be signed by each Panel Member.
All documentation in connection with the recruitment exercise will be returned to the Personnel Department following the interview and will be retained in accordance with the University’s Retention Policy.
IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THE DELIBERATIONS/DECISIONS OF APPOINTMENTS PANELS ARE STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL.
Notification to Candidates
The Personnel Officer will normally advise the successful candidate, by telephone, that a recommendation for appointment has been made.
Normally within 10 days, the Personnel Manager or nominee, will notify the candidates in writing of the outcome of the interview and make the offer of employment to the successful candidate, subject to satisfactory references, medical questionnaire/report and work permit requirements.
A reserve list, if available, will be used for similar posts and will normally remain valid for a period of 12 months from the date of notification.
The Head of School, or Director of Administrative Area, and the Chair in conjunction with the Personnel Officer, will recommend the commencing salary, probationary period and starting date. The Personnel Officer will provide the appropriate salary information relating to the School or Administrative Area.
For Professorial Staff, the starting salary will be initially recommended by the Chair of the Appointments Panel/Vice-Chancellor, in consultation with the Director of Human Resources or nominee (See Annex 5). The salary is then reviewed by the Pro-Vice Chancellor, who is a member of the Professorial Salary Review Panel, to ensure consistency across the University.
For senior management posts, the starting salary will be determined by the Vice-Chancellor and Registrar and Chief Operating Officer or nominee, in consultation with the Director of Human Resources and reported to the Remuneration Committee.
It is important to be consistent, objective, logical and realistic when deciding upon initial salaries. Clear criteria must be used which apply to all staff on an equal basis and that reasons are recorded in support of the recommendation for the starting salary. Guidance is detailed in Annex 5.
Appointments are conditional upon the completion of an appropriate period of probation; the period will be determined by the Head of School/Director of Administrative Area, taking into consideration the confirmation in post procedures for academic staff. (See Annex 6)
The University reserves the right to require potential members of staff to undergo a medical examination with the Occupational Health Physician. For senior academic and senior managerial posts, eg. Directors, an offer of appointment will be conditional upon the receipt of a satisfactory medical report. The Personnel Department will organise the medical appointment and liaise with the individual concerned.
Workers from outside the European Economic Area will require immigration status that permits work before they can undertake work in the UK. The University is licensed as a sponsor under the UK Border Agency's Points Based System (PBS) and can provide certificates of sponshorship to skilled workers, recruited in accordance with PBS rules, to allow application for a visa. Immigration status that allows work can be demonstrated in other ways but in all cases evidence of permission to work in the UK must be provided before work begins. For further information please refer to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) website which can be found at: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/
Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults
Staff being appointed to positions that will involve working in regulated activity, as defined by the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (Northern Ireland) Order 2007, will be required to be criminal history checked prior to commencing in post. If an individual is disqualified from working with children and/or vulnerable adults then the offer will be withdrawn.
For further information please refer to the University's Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Policy (currently under review).