A person specification is a profile of the ideal candidate you need to fill the job. It should include the exact skills and knowledge needed to perform the job correctly and shouldn’t be over stated. Employing someone whose skills don’t match will only give false aspirations to the candidate and end in disappointment for them and you as their employer.

Other things to consider including in a person specification are:

Type of experience needed. Don’t be specific about years of experience required (unless it’s a profession where this is relevant). A very able candidate who learns quickly and may have had experience in a wide range of tasks could be a better fit than someone who has many years of experience in a very limited capacity.

Core competencies – work related skills, knowledge, values and attributes. For example, ‘a track record of writing financial reports’, ‘self-motivated’, ‘a head for statistics’ or perhaps ‘the ability to speak and present to large groups’.

Education and Training. Again – think about qualifications that will actually give a candidate the ability to do the job – someone newly qualified may not be as skilled and knowledgeable as someone who has no qualifications but has been working in a similar role long enough to have gained the skills needed.

When considering all of these you need to ensure you don’t potentially discriminate against certain groups of potential applicants because of age, sex, religion, disability etc.

Split your person specification into ‘essential’ and ‘desirable’ criteria. Essential criteria are the skills, experience and attributes which the candidate must have to be able to work in the role, whilst candidates who possess the desirable criteria are likely to perform the job even better. These can be useful when selecting your candidates if you have a number of applications from people who have all of the essential criteria you are looking for.

As with a good job description, an accurate person specification will help in creating your job advert, briefing your recruitment consultant and then with your interviewing and selection process as well as the continued training and development of your team, so regular reviewing is key.