Interview and assessment guidance for managers

Methods of assessment

Hiring managers should consider the most appropriate method for assessing candidates. Please see further guidance on how to assess candidates (.pdf).  Selecting the best candidate on the basis of an interview alone can be difficult and managers are encouraged to use as many selection techniques as possible and appropriate to inform robust decision making.


Chairs and all members of selection panels must have completed the online recruitment and selection training within Moodle.  Chairs of interview panels should also complete the online unconscious bias training which is available via Moodle.

For more information, read the guidance on how to plan and conduct interviews (.pdf).

All candidates must be assessed against criteria from the advertised person specification. No criteria other than those advertised may be used to select candidates. Interview questions must be agreed in advance and relate to the person specification and job description.

Positive Action

Positive Action in recruitment and promotion can be used where an employer reasonably thinks that people with a protected characteristic are under-represented in the workforce, or suffer a disadvantage connected to that protected characteristic. Some information or evidence will be required to indicate to the employer that one of those conditions exists. People & Culture can provide department-specific workforce profile data on request.

Positive Action legislation allows an employer faced with making a choice between two or more candidates who are of equal merit to take into consideration whether one is from a group that is disproportionately under-represented or otherwise disadvantaged within the workforce.

This is sometimes called either a ‘tie-breaker’ or the ‘tipping point’. In order to use Positive Action provisions in a tiebreaker situation, the employer must first establish that the candidates are of equal merit. Employers should establish a set of criteria against which candidates will be assessed when applying for a job. This can take into account a candidate’s overall ability, competence and professional experience together with any relevant formal or academic qualifications, as well as any other qualities required to carry out the particular job.

However, employers should ensure that any criteria do not indirectly discriminate against people who share a protected characteristic – for example, a requirement that staff must work shift patterns that mean they have to be on-call at certain fixed times might put women, who are more likely to be responsible for childcare issues, at a disproportionate disadvantage. This would be unlawful indirect discrimination unless it could be shown that the need for these work patterns could be objectively justified.

Certificate of Sponsorship

Please note that where you have a role that is eligible for a Certificate of Sponsorship and you are interviewing international candidates, if the role does not fall into a PhD level Shortage Occupation Code (SoC) code, you must appoint a suitable settled worker if there is one in the pool of applicants.

The Resourcing Adviser will advise the hiring manager at the point of advertising if the role does not fall within a PhD level SoC code and will explain in full the requirements under Home Office rules.

Interview decision grid

During the interview, panel members should take notes. As any notes may be viewed by the candidate at their request, and may be used as evidence in an allegation of discrimination or other unlawful practices in recruitment,  it is important that all notes are worded appropriately.

Once the interview process is complete, the Chair must complete an interview decision grid providing a summary of the reasons for selecting and rejecting candidates. The interview decision grid, any scoring grids and any notes must be uploaded to the e-Recruitment system (iTrent) immediately after the interviews by the hiring manager. The grid should clearly indicate which candidates can be rejected and if there are any reserve candidates that should be kept on hold. All reasons for rejection should be factual and objective in nature and made against the advertised criteria. 


Guidance is available on giving feedback to unsuccessful job applicants. Where there are applicants who already work at the University or who are Essex graduates, it is University practice for the Chair of the selection panel or Head of Department to provide personal feedback as soon as possible after the selection process. For all other feedback requests, the Chair of the panel should indicate who will be the point of contact for feedback requests.

All notes and the grids can be viewed by interview candidates should they request them. The grid and accompanying notes are retained as the formal record and would be used as evidence in legal proceedings (by the Home Office or Employment Tribunal) if the University were challenged on the process undertaken.

Social events

Some departments may wish to invite candidates to socialise with members of the department either in the department itself or over dinner. This is not recommended practice and if it occurs it needs to be carefully managed in accordance with University guidance on social occasions (.docx).

Please note that social occasions cannot form part of the selection process.


As part of the University’s Stonewall accreditation, for both internal and external interviews for management vacancies, the panel must ensure that the candidate has evidenced their knowledge and achievements in diversity and inclusion.

An example of a question that could be used during an interview is: “The University has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. Give an example from your practice that demonstrates your knowledge of and achievements in the area of diversity and inclusion.”

Further support

For further advice, contact the Resourcing Adviser.

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Resourcing team