The Candidate Specification

Once the Job Specification has been completed the information it contains can be used to prepare the second document, the Candidate Specification. This specifies the kind of person best suited to fill the job and provides the foundation for the remainder of the recruitment and selection process.

Definition & Purpose

The Candidate Specification determines the list of criteria which, in conjunction with the job specification, outlines in objective quantifiable terms the essential skills and abilities of the successful candidate. It is an interpretation of the job specification in terms of the kind of person suitable for the job. It provides a profile of the skills, knowledge and experience, qualifications etc. needed to perform all, or the majority of, tasks associated with the job.

When completing the Candidate Specification it is important to ask again and again "What attributes would one like to see in the job holder?" and "What attributes are essential?" Secondly, keep constantly in mind that the attributes needed to do a particular job are only part of a whole person's make-up and that this person will probably work in a social setting where relationships with others may influence effectiveness.

Classifying the Information: The Seven Point Plan

The following seven criteria provide a framework to ensure that no aspect of the person is neglected and prevent irrelevancies from being introduced. The seven points are themselves divided into a number of sub-sections, not, all of which will be relevant to every job.

Consider the job that you are selecting for and answer the following:

1. Physical: Health and Appearance


What are the occupational requirements in terms of physical, health and appearance? In some circumstances good health will be a requirement of the post, however, it is important to ensure that this is a genuine occupational need or this criteria could be seen as discriminatory.

Consider here: Is this criteria desirable or essential? Health must be separated from physical appearances and attributes. Is it possible to remove a restriction by revising work procedures?


2. Education and Training

These relate to the knowledge and the skills required to do the job i.e. What level of general education is required? (Whenever possible and if appropriate, define in terms of specific qualifications).

3. Relevant work related experience

Including the amount, level achieved and any special attainments.

What level of job competence is required?

How much experience in a similar job or in other kinds of job is required?

What should the job holder be capable of doing straight away and what can they learn through experience or training?

4. Special Aptitudes

What special aptitudes does the job demand and to what extent? Consider here mechanical aptitude, manual dexterity, facility in the use of words or figures. If one or more of these special aptitudes are required, candidates may need to be properly assessed by the use of selection psychometric tests.

5. Interests

How far are any leisure interests relevant to the demands of the job?

6. Disposition

Depending on the job, it may be important to assess the level of interest the applicant has in the job. Considerations such as commitment, interest and energy level should be taken into account. It is difficult to measure how motivated a candidate is and important to remember that a motivated candidate will not necessarily turn into a motivated employee.

Other considerations are: What capacity is required for leadership (e.g. influencing and persuading others)? What importance is attached to stability, i.e. steadiness and dependability, and to self reliance (e.g. independent through thought and action) or flexibility to cope with constant change?

7. Circumstances

What requirements does the job demand in terms of personal circumstances? Consider here domestic commitments, degree of mobility, e.g. willingness to work away from the job location, readiness to work irregular hours. What personal circumstances would prevent someone from doing the job? Be careful to ensure that these are genuine needs and could not be considered discriminatory.