Recruitment & Selection
Preparing a Position Description
- Position Descriptions as a management tool
- Position Descriptions as a marketing tool
- Key elements of a Position Description
Position Descriptions as a Management Tool
Development of an effective position description is an essential organisational tool to enable managers, employees and potential applicants to:
- Identify the right candidate in the recruitment and selection process
- better link positions into overall workplace planning and design
- create role clarity for the supervisor and the employee
- create a link between the position description and probation criteria to more effectively manage the probation process
- better define reporting lines and delegations, resulting in less ambiguity
- link the performance development framework to the position description
- identifies areas of professional development
- better define the knowledge, skill and attribute requirements of the job
- have a role description which is person-centred rather than task-centred
Some of the most frequent errors that occur in position description preparation include:
- Too many selection criteria; prioritize the top 5-8
- Selection criteria that is multi-layered, including three or four key elements in one criterion. For example: Effective communication, interpersonal and negotiation skills
- Position purpose is not clearly distilled
- Key responsibilities identified as list of tasks rather then the main accountabilities (responsibilities) of the position
- Immediate and longer term requirements of the organisational unit are not factored into the job
Position Descriptions as a Marketing Tool
Due to the global demand for highly skilled and talented people the University has to clearly articulate via the position description the opportunity and benefit of employment at the University. The position description is the link between a department and the potential pool of applicants.
Think about why people maybe attracted to this position and the work environment, taking into consideration motivating factors separate from salary, such as working in a diverse and dynamic team, or workplace flexibility and parental leave.
Key elements of a Position Description
The position profile outlines the basic details of the position including, the position title, position number, the faculty/department the position is in, salary, superannuation, employment type as well as who to contact for any queries.
In no longer than 2-4 sentences in total, briefly explain the purpose of the position, the reason position exists, the relevance and intention of the role.
Example: “This is a high quality customer service and administrative support role that provides the first source of advice and guidance in relation to University policy, procedures and processes. You are required to exercise judgement, set priorities and schedule work to meet deadlines”.
Ensuring the selection criteria and key responsibilities are appropriately linked at this point assists in laying the foundations for future conversations around probation, performance and promotion in a more objective, fair and effective manner.
The selection criteria provides structure to assist the Selection Committee in developing effective interview questions and in identifying the applicant(s) best suited to perform effectively in the role in this environment, as well as for applicants to measure their own suitability. To be most effective, the criteria needs to be demonstrable and verifiable with the applicants.?
Well developed selection criteria should:
- signify the essential elements of the position
- attract a high quality pool of applicants
- provide a reliable standard that applicants can be considered against
When developing selection criteria ensure they comply with Equal Opportunity policy and legislation.
It is important to prioritize the key 5-8 selection criteria to be addressed by the applicant and the committee, highlighting the critical behaviours a person is required to fulfil the requirements of the job.
Selection criteria are made up of a mixture of:
- Qualifications - formal educational/technical qualifications or an equivalent mixture of qualifications and work experience required. Examples.
- Attributes - the desired qualities or characteristics a person should possess to ensure they perform successfully in the position. Examples.
- Skills - the ability or competence to do something well. Examples.
- Knowledge - is the accumulation of understanding gained from formal education or through past job experience that the applicant would require to meet the prerequisites of the position.- Tip!- some knowledge can be gained on the job, therefore it is important to assess how much and what types of knowledge are required prior to a person starting in a role. This will assist in avoiding overstating selection capabilities. Examples.
Key Responsibilities are major areas/outcomes the role is accountable for that reflect the role purpose and the performance to successful completion. As they are to reflect the key outcomes there should be no more than 5-8.
The key responsibilities should be inline with the key competencies identified in the Performance Development Framework and academic promotion process. It may be useful to identify the outcomes of the role being described and consider these within these key areas:
- Contribution to teaching and learning
- Research - Advancement of the Discipline
- Leadership and Service
- Operational Activities and Service Quality
- Collaboration and Leadership
- Innovation and Improvement
- Responsibility and Compliance
- “Teach in x, reflecting approaches to teaching that influence, motivate and inspire students to learn.”
- “Develop your research to present a body of work, showing sustained development over time, and regarded by peers as original in concept or application.”
- “Ensure the sustained financial viability of X through the development, implementation and day to day management of long term and annual financial plans and appropriate risk management.”
- “Establish and maintain effective working relationships with...”
The following OHS Statement is required to be included in all position descriptions:
Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) and Environmental Health and Safety - (EHS) Responsibilities
All staff are required to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and that of other personnel who may be affected by their conduct.
OHS responsibilities applicable to positions are published at:
These include general staff responsibilities and those additional responsibilities that apply for Managers and Supervisors and other Personnel.
Job complexity, skills and knowledge (Professional Staff Only)
Outline the position’s scope and the level of responsibility with reference to decision-making, resources management and level of autonomy. As well as the key stakeholders and relationships that the role is required to developed and maintain.