Selection is the process by which you decide which candidate should be appointed to your role.

Before you start to shortlist or assess candidates, review the required skills to see if any are more critical and should get a higher weighting in shortlisting/assessment, for example if recruiting for a Teacher, is a clear understanding of safeguarding more important than experience of coordinating parent evenings?



Two or three people should review all the applications you’ve received against the person specification for the job and decide which candidates should be interviewed.

We recommend that these people work independently and then get together to discuss and review the applications and their decisions, so that they can be debated and a consensus reached. 

Using two or three people will provide a broader view of candidates than just one person doing the shortlisting as we all interpret information in different ways. 

We encourage you to summarise why candidates haven’t been shortlisted and that a person is nominated to give feedback for each candidate if it’s requested.


Selection tools

A variety of selection tools will give you more robust evidence of a candidate’s ability than an interview alone.  Please see attached guidance on different selection tools.

Schools selection exercises

Guidance on selection tools

We’d recommend you draw up a selection matrix so that you can be sure you are testing all the essential requirements for the role and are seeking evidence of these skills in different situations (exercises). See below an example selection matrix

Involving different assessors will give you a broader perception of the candidate.  Each assessor should see evaluate all candidates to ensure consistency, ie Assessor A&C should mark all in-tray exercises, Assessors A&B should interview all candidates, Assessors B&C should mark the written exercise etc.

Remember that references form a key element of our safeguarding and selection decisions.  We recommend that references are taken up before interview so that any issues can be raised with the candidate.

Example selection matrix


Competency based interviews

Competencies are defined as "behaviours that employees must have, or acquire, to input into a situation in order to achieve high levels of performance" CIPD. Research has shown that past behaviour is the best indicator of future performance. Therefore, if we have evidence that someone has performed well in a particular work situation before, it is likely that they will perform well again.

To ensure that we get firm evidence, a competency question asks for specific examples from the candidate's past and follows up as initial question with several probing questions such as How? What? When? Why? This ensures the interviewer fully understands the answer and that the candidate has had the opportunity to impart sufficient information.

Competency based interview questions usually start with ‘Tell me about a time when you…’ or ‘Give me an example of when you…’

Please see attached guidance on competency based interviewing questions and example questions.

Introduction to competency based interviewing
Example competency based interview questions
Example competency interview questions Leadership and Teaching specific
Example assessment centre timetable
Example marking sheet


Evaluating assessment evidence

Once you’ve gathered all your evidence from interviews and other selection tools, you need to collate it to work out who is the right candidate for the job, bearing in mind there may be some situations where no-one has demonstrated skills at the right level to be appointed.

We would encourage you to use the ORCE model (Observe, Record, Classify & Evaluate).  During the exercise, OBSERVE and RECORD what evidence you see.  After the exercise, CLASSIFY the evidence (ie is it time management evidence or people management etc) and then EVALUATE it (ie did it meet the required standard, did it exceed the required standard, did it fail to meet the required standard, was there no evidence).

Then transfer this evidence to a matrix, so you can compare each exercise for each candidate, see attached example matrix.  This should show you the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate, the overall score at the bottom will show you who has performed strongest overall. See example below:

Example selection matrix

Don’t just appoint the highest scoring individual, ensure that the assessors agree that he/she met the required standards for the job. 

Agree who is going to feedback to unsuccessful candidates.  Keep all selection paperwork for 6 months after the selection date, in case of any challenge on the decision and in case you need to appoint a second choice candidate (provided he/she is appointable).




The purpose of seeking references is to allow employers to obtain factual information to support appointment decisions. Schools and colleges should obtain references before interview, this allows any concerns raised to be explored further with the referee and taken up with the candidate at interview.


Schools and colleges should:

  • not accept open references e.g. to whom it may concern;
  • not rely on applicants to obtain their reference;
  • ensure any references are from the candidate’s current employer and have been completed by a senior person with appropriate authority (if the referee is school or college based the reference should be confirmed by the headteacher/principal as accurate in respect to disciplinary investigations);
  • obtain verification of the individual’s most recent relevant period of employment where the applicant is not currently employed;
  • secure a reference from the relevant employer from the last time the applicant worked with children (if not currently working with children);
  • always verify any information with the person who provided the reference;
  • ensure electronic references originate from a legitimate source;
  • contact referees to clarify content where information is vague or insufficient information is provided;
  • compare the information on the application form with that in the reference and take up any discrepancies with the candidate;
  • establish the reason for the candidate leaving their current or most recent post; and,
  • ensure any concerns are resolved satisfactorily before appointment is confirmed.

Providing references

When asked to provide references schools should ensure the information confirms whether they are satisfied with the applicant’s ability to work with children and provide the facts (not opinions) of any substantiated safeguarding allegations but should not include information about allegations which are unsubstantiated, unfounded, false or malicious.

References should not include information about concerns/allegations which are unsubstantiated, unfounded, false, or malicious. References are an important part of the recruitment process and should be provided in a timely manner and not hold up proceedings.

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