One of the most vital resources your organisation will have is its people, and they need to be equipped with all the necessary expertise and insight to do their job safely and effectively. Consequently, the aim of any recruitment process should be to get the best person for the job through a process that is both effective and fair. Appointing people unsuited to a vacancy can be costly.

Knowledge can be identified through qualifications and interviews while skills and experience might be determined from references and evidence of past work, all of which might be gained ‘on the job’ or during the recruitment process.

Whether you’re recruiting for junior or senior roles, or enrolling employees onto refresher or supplementary training courses, it’s important to remember that each individual will have different experiences and therefore it should never be assumed that they have the complete set of skills and knowledge needed for a task.

The demands of any job shouldn’t exceed an employee's ability to carry out the work without risk to themselves or others.

Key actions to consider for recruitment and job placement

Before starting the recruitment process:

  • Make sure that you (as an employer) have responsibilities from a health and safety perspective and must make specific considerations when recruiting and employing young persons, new and expectant mothers, older people, disabled people, migrant workers and temporary/agency personnel. 
  • Develop a well-structured recruitment process that will allow you secure the best person for the job. To achieve this, you need to:
    • accurately assess staffing needs;
    • attract suitable applicants;
    • efficiently handle applications;
    • select candidates for interview or other kinds of assessment;
    • pinpoint the best candidate; and
    • offer the job, tie up final details and deal with any queries.
  • Consider a variety of factors when reviewing staffing needs and recruitment processes, including (for example):
    • the specific needs of the business;
    • the labour market;
    • the potential to develop existing staff; and
    • the need for new skills.
  • Prepare essential documentation, including the job description, person specification and application form, following careful consideration of key tasks, skills, attributes, behaviours, values, knowledge and experience required for the role. This, in addition to information about the employer and equality and diversity monitoring documentation will often be shared with potential candidates in the initial stages of the recruitment process.
  • Agree in advance of any role being advertised what the process for sifting and selecting candidates will be, including practical tests, assessments and interview arrangements.

 
During the recruitment process:

  • Ensure the process is well structured and suitably designed to enable identification of individuals that have, or could get (with training and experience), the necessary vocational skills and knowledge. Physical capability to do the job should also be appropriately considered.
  • Acquire basic information from job application forms, CVs, interviews and from personnel records for existing employees and use it to make informed and sound decisions regarding suitability for the work involved.
  • Consider whether a supplementary assessment might be required to determine the suitability and/or training needs of candidates. This could take the form of:
    • verified evidence of current vocational qualifications, skills certificates and licences held;
    • personal and professional references; and/or
    • a capabilities assessment by a trained assessor from practical tests and observation of physical fitness, aptitude or abilities.
  • Ask for no more than basic biographical information, previous work experience, education and work-related training, and only ever request detailed personal information that is relevant to the job.
  • Make arrangements during the recruitment process that take into account relevant health risk factors, while complying with legal requirements. Employers are obliged by various aspects of equality legislation to take steps to eliminate discrimination (for instance, by asking them to complete a questionnaire) and also to comply with data protection legislation with regard to personal information.
    • Be careful not to ask health-related questions barred by the Equality Act before a prospective new employee is given a job offer. Refer to our action points for specialist health and mobility needs, and the relevant legislation, to find out more.
    • Never use an irrelevant condition as an excuse for refusing employment. You must always be able to justify requirements, showing that it wouldn’t be reasonable to waive them in any circumstances.
    • Consider the need for specialist occupational health advice as appropriate.
    • Use supplementary forms to collect sensitive information and information for equal opportunities monitoring and keep them separate from information used to make selection decisions.
  • Ensure job candidates are aware of the risks that will be posed to themselves and others while they carry out the duties of the role which they are applying for. Additionally, they must understand the level of competence and instruction and training required to enable each job or activity to be undertaken safely and how this can be identified from:
    • health and safety risk assessments required by specific regulations;
    • arrangements developed to comply with the provisions of regulations which do not require a specific risk assessment of their own; or
    • specialist advice where in-house resources are insufficient.

 
After recruitment:

  • Facilitate a smoother induction process by taking action before the new employee arrives or before an existing employee transfers to a different role. This may include:
    • preparing a welcome pack;
    • planning the induction process, including making decisions about how it will be delivered and who should be involved;
    • tailoring the induction to ensure that it can be adapted to the specific needs of the individual; and/or
    • allocating a mentor and informing them of their role and responsibilities.
  • Provide appropriate induction training, regardless of the employee’s previous experience or qualifications. Employees are more likely to have an accident in the first six months at a workplace than at any other point during their employment, with extra risks arising due to:
    • lack of experience of working in a new industry or workplace;
    • lack of familiarity with the job and the work environment;
    • reluctance to raise concerns (or not knowing how to); and
    • eagerness to impress workmates and managers.
  • Establish procedures and systems to identify progress and future training needs, including, for example, one, three, six and twelve month reviews with both the appointed mentor and line manager. The content and structure of these meetings will in part be determined by the individual and progress, but may, for example, include:
    • how they are settling in and adjusting to the role and organisation;
    • aspects of the role where they feel they need training or coaching; and
    • any other issues.
  • Make sure employees are aware that you would rather they voice their concerns about potential gaps in their knowledge or uncertainty around how to perform a task as part of the on-going consultation and communication process. 

Templates that may be useful for recruitment decisions

Additional resources

Right person for the job

Instances that show why it's vital to check competence of employees and contractors.

Read the case studies

Frequently asked questions

Find answers to some common queries about managing risks to people, property and business continuity.

Related topics

Recruitment processes and job placement are relevant for various topics, such as: