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What is a person specification?

Published 6th April 2023
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What is a person specification?

Published 6th April 2023

When recruiting your main aim is to find someone that is the perfect fit for the role. To help the candidates know if they are the right fit, a company usually supplies information about the position available. A useful document that works well with this is a person specification. 

Within this blog, you’ll learn more about the person specification and how it can help you find the right candidate.

The person specification is an important document to use, it helps recruiters communicate the traits that they find desirable in an applicant. This will include education, previous work, experience, and additional traits that are needed to be successful in the role.

What is the purpose of a person specification?

Using a person specification has many advantages, it’ll help refine and create a more streamlined interview process. Potential applicants will be able to understand how they will fit into the role and the business, as well as show them if they are suited to the role, not just regarding their skill set. 

Furthermore, this will help the recruiter analyse each candidate with the same list of priorities, helping remove bias, personal interests, and prejudice, all of which can be seemingly problematic in a successful recruiting process.

What is included in a person specification?

There are four points to include within a personal specification, all of which will allow you to understand if the candidate should continue the interview process.

Attainments: e.g. Qualifications, positions previously held, and experience.

Soft Skills: e.g. Public speaking, time management, problem-solving, communication, and critical thinking.

Job-specific capabilities: e.g. Having knowledge of specific software, and programs.

Personality traits: e.g. Productive, motivated, positive, proactive, attention to detail.

Should you specify prior experience?

When it comes to hiring for a new position, it's common to see job listings that require a specific number of years of prior experience. While this may seem like a straightforward way to filter candidates, it's important to consider whether such a requirement is truly necessary for the role.

In fact, setting a hard requirement for years of experience could potentially lead to age discrimination, particularly against younger applicants who may not have had as much time in the workforce. Additionally, this approach may overlook talented candidates who have gained valuable skills and experience in a shorter amount of time by working on a wide variety of tasks.

Instead of solely relying on the number of years of experience, a better approach is to ask candidates to demonstrate their skills through a set task that show they can easily perform the job expected of them. This allows you to see firsthand how well they can perform in a particular area, regardless of how long they've been in the workforce.

By adopting a more flexible hiring process, you can expand your pool of candidates and find the best fit for your team. Don't let rigid requirements hold you back from discovering a star player who could bring a fresh perspective and valuable skills to your organization.

Tips on writing a person specification

  1. Be realistic - It can be hard to bear in mind that it will be a rare occasion that a candidate will tick every box. Make sure you have set out your priorities, and make a mental note of must-haves and nice-to-haves.
  2. Find the gaps - When recruiting you should be aware of the gaps within the team. This will help you see if a candidate can fill those weaker spots, creating a stronger team.
  3. Tone of voice - After writing your person specification, ensure two or more people read it, for feedback. You want to ensure that the document says everything it needs to, in an appropriate manner.
Do you need help with the recruitment process? Why not get in touch with our team for help? We can take the pressure off, making the recruitment process a lot easier

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