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Factsheet: Diversity & Equality & the Recruitment Process

  1. The job description
  2. Person specification
  3. The recruitment advertisement
  4. Images in recruitment advertising
  5. Application forms
  6. Equal opportunities monitoring
  7. Shortlisting
  8. Planning the interview
  9. The interview
  10. The selection process
  11. Best practice next step

Effective recruitment is the key to having the people with the right skills, expertise and qualifications in the right jobs. Diversity and equality of opportunity should be central to the process. As well as getting the right person for the job, a fair and consistent process will help lower:

Below, we highlight the necessary steps to ensure you get the recruitment process right.

The job description

Highlighting the requirements of the role, the job description should be created for every new role and updated when existing positions become vacant. You should avoid jargon and abbreviations and include in the job description:

Person specification

The person specification describes your ideal candidate’s abilities, skills and knowledge, helping you select the best person for the job, not the person you like the most. It provides the foundations for the recruitment advertisement, shortlisting criteria and interview questions. When writing consider:

The recruitment advertisement

The Equality Act ensures applicants are treated fairly and equally in the areas of:

You should make it clear in the advertisement that an applicant will not be excluded on the grounds of sex, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity, race, marital status, disability, age, religion, belief or sexual orientation. Use neutral language such as ‘sales assistant’ not ‘sales girl’ and avoid gender-specific titles such as ‘craftsman’ and ‘waitress’.

Images in recruitment advertising

It is good practice for illustrated adverts to represent both sexes and to include a multi-cultural mix. For example, it could be discriminatory to advertise a job that illustrates a woman in a profession traditionally undertaken by women. To counteract the effect, either depict a man in equal prominence or add an obvious disclaimer that the job is open to men and women. If a discriminatory advert is published, the advertiser (you as the employer), your agents (recruitment agencies) and the publisher are liable.

Application forms

Application forms mean applicants answer questions in the same format in order to ensure equal opportunities. However, they should be treated with caution. If an applicant feels they have been discriminated against on the basis of information they have provided (for example their marital status), they could take you to a Tribunal. Only seek personal data relevant to the role. You can ask about:

Remember to include:

Equal opportunities monitoring

It is good practice for you to adopt a monitoring procedure to record the personal characteristics such as the race and sex of applicants and appointees. Attach the monitoring form to the application form or job information pack. On the form, advise applicants that all information will be treated in confidence and will not be seen by any of your staff directly involved with the appointment.


You should ensure that at least two people from the interview panel should prepare the interview shortlist:

Planning the interview

Interview panels should have at least two members, preferably who have been involved in shortlisting. The date and time should be arranged at the beginning of the recruitment process, but be flexible. Before the interview:

The interview

Avoid questions, conduct and procedures from which discrimination can be inferred. For example, do not ask: ‘Will your family commitments prevent you from working overtime?’ or ‘What child care arrangements have you got?’. Only ask questions that are relevant and necessary to the job and avoid making snap judgements on the basis of intuition or subjective personality assessments. So, for a final checklist:

The selection process

When all interviews have taken place, you should go through the interview notes and ensure that all candidates meet the essential criteria. Then:

Best practice next step

Jobcentre Plus runs a Two Tick Scheme for best practice in employing disabled people.

For expert Employment Law advice on diversity and equality in the recruitment process, contact us today on 01273 609911, or email

Martin Searle Solicitors, 9 Marlborough Place, Brighton, BN1 1UB
T: 01273 609 991

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