10 steps for recruiting fairly

by esphr

As an employer, you want to ensure you recruit the right person for the role but you also need to ensure that the recruitment process carried out is fair. How do you achieve this? 

We have put together some top tips on how best to achieve this:

1. Before Advertising

  • Compile a job description and a person specification.
  • Ensure all staff involved in the recruitment process have had equal opportunities training. 
  • Review the company’s equal opportunities or recruitment policy and factor in any requirements of the policy in the recruitment procedure. Document any decisions which deviate from the policy with reasons. 
  • Ensure that all requirements for the role can be objectively justified and do not indirectly discriminate against any groups of employees. 

2. Advertising the Job

  • Decide where the job will be advertised – internally and/or externally? 
  • It may be appropriate to advertise internally only, where a specific reason exists, such as there are existing employees at risk of redundancy.
  • If advertising externally, consider which publications and mediums to use so as to reach the widest range of applicants.
  • Consider in what format applications should be submitted. 

3. Shortlisting

  • Decide on the interview process – is there to be a panel?
  • Consider whether any aptitude tests (such as written or psychometric tests), are required or desirable for the job. Ensure that their operation is not indirectly discriminatory in any way.
  • All candidates should be marked against a fair and objective selection criteria. 

4. Interview

  • Ideally, all candidates should be asked the same questions and their answers should be scored consistently by all members of the interview panel. 
  • Supplementary questions can be asked to clarify or explore the candidate's answers.
  • Care should be taken not to ask any questions concerning details of the candidates' personal life – this  could lead to potential discriminatory issues.  
  • Provide feedback to candidates if requested. Feedback can be written or oral but should be objective and given in accordance with any written policy.

5. Prepare Contractual Documentation

  • Prepare the contract of employment. 
  • Ensure that all terms of the contract are consistent and that any other contractual documentation (i.e offer letter or staff handbook) is expressly incorporated into the contract.

6. Make Offer of Employment

  • Make a written offer to the successful candidate. 
  • Set a time limit for acceptance of the offer.
  • Any offer of employment should state that it is subject to contract (if that is the case), proof of permission to work in UK and receipt of satisfactory references (or any other requirements). 
  • Advise of any probationary period. 

7. References

  • Once the offer has been accepted, seek permission to approach the candidate’s references.
  • Chase the references if not received. 

8. Commencement of Employment

  • Obtain the employee's P45. Ask the employee to fill in any new starter forms.
  • Carry out an induction process.
  • Provide full details of the employer's policies and procedures.

9. Paper Trail

  • Keep a paper trail throughout the recruitment process, ensuring compliance with the Data Protection Act and any relevant company policy or procedure.
  • Notes of candidates' answers and interview panel impressions should be taken and retained.
  • Remember this information is admissible as part of any litigation such as a tribunal claim. 

10. Contact HR

  • Any doubts or concerns during the process contact HR or your legal advisor!


We are the HR and employment law experts from esphr.

It’s our mission to advise and develop the employment law capability of HR professionals wherever we can, helping HR teams make a real commercial difference to their organisations. That way, you spend less time solving operational issues and more time actioning projects that drive far-reaching change in your company.

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