Section 2

Recruitment Principles

Principle 1

A key objective of the Commission is to ensure acceptable standards of probity in all appointment processes. The principles established by
the Commission in this Code of Practice are underpinned by the core values that define probity such as integrity, impartiality, fairness, reliability and ethical conduct.

The Commission seeks to nurture a culture based on values of trust, fairness, transparency and respect for all. It also seeks to ensure that probity standards are subject to consistent, thorough oversight through its audit function.

Office holders must be committed to these values and must ensure that all aspects of the

appointment process are managed ethically.

Principle 2

Appointment made on merit means the appointment of the best person to any given post. This is to be achieved through a transparent, competitive recruitment process.

The criteria for judging suitability of candidates must be related directly to the qualifications, personal attributes and skills required to fulfil the duties and responsibilities of the post. This is a fundamentally fair and just approach to assessing applicants. It results in the selection of individuals whose competencies, abilities, experience and qualities best match the needs of the organisation. Merit is therefore an integral principle which must underpin all appointment practices.

It is essential to ensure that the selection process does not provide unjustifiable advantage or disadvantage to any particular candidate or group of candidates. The selection process by which appointments are made should embrace genuine equality of opportunity.

The appointment process should be efficient, cost-effective and in line with best practice.

Best practice extends to all aspects of the process. This includes defining job and person specifications, marketing the vacancy and selecting appropriate assessment mechanisms.
It also includes providing training and supporting management arrangements to ensure the creation and maintenance of appropriate records of the appointment process.

Principle 4

The Commission wholly opposes any form of direct or indirect discrimination, whether active or passive. The selection process adopted and the way in which it is applied must be undertaken with full commitment to equality of opportunity.

Office holders have an obligation to treat candidates fairly, to a consistent standard and in a consistent manner.

Principle 5

Transparency in the appointment process and the openness with which candidates are dealt by office holders will enhance candidate confidence.

Open and active communication on the process and the basis for assessment is essential. There should also be a full commitment to offering meaningful feedback to those candidates who seek it.

The Commission expects compliance with the terms of this Code of Practice and any other guidelines issued by the Commission.

The Commission requires a commitment to open, timely and effective communication with candidates. All enquiries are to be responded to adequately and in an efficient and timely manner

The Commission requires recruiters to adhere to the terms and conditions of the recruitment licence that it may issue

When an office holder or organisation is planning the selection and appointment process, the Commission expects that

  • Appointments are made following a competitive, merit-based selection process in which all candidates have been treated equally at every stage

  • Recruiters plan how they intend to conduct the appointment process taking into account both the number of vacancies likely to arise and the number of candidates the position(s) may attract. Clear decisions will be made regarding the approach to be adopted in any recruitment campaign

  • Explicit consideration is given to opportunities and measures to promote (or remove possible barriers to) equal opportunity for employment

  • Information on the different stages of the appointment process is made available to candidates in advance

  • Decisions taken throughout the selection process are based on the qualifications, personal attributes and skills necessary to undertake the duties and fulfil the responsibilities of the post to the required standard

  • Recruiters employ a high-quality selection process that is based on the skills and qualities relevant to the post

  • The criteria on which selection decisions will be made are identified before the process begins

  • Candidates who meet the required standard for the job are placed in order of merit and considered for appointment in that order

  • Recruiters actively focus on foreseeable adverse impact issues, ensuring that they are considered and addressed before recruitment campaigns

Regarding job and person specifications and competency frameworks, the Commission expects that

  • The job specification and person specification, as the foundation of the selection process, are considered and endorsed at an appropriate senior level within the employing organisation before the selection process begins

  • The selection processes employed are underpinned by objectively written and effective job and person specifications. The specifications will focus on the purpose of the job, its main accountabilities and the essential skills and personal attributes needed to perform the job effectively

  • Job specifications and competency profiles for roles identify relevant criteria against which candidates can be measured throughout the selection process. The criteria may be justified in accordance with relevant legislation

  • Key elements of the job and person specifications are consistently reflected throughout the selection process

  • Criteria for selection are based on the essential requirements of the post, promoting the principle of equal opportunity for employment

  • Requirements for the post are not unduly restrictive. Specifications reflect what is necessary to perform the duties of the position. Non-essential requirements that could have the effect of excluding persons with disabilities will not be specified

  • Job and person specifications are unbiased and conform to current best practice

  • Terms and conditions, eligibility criteria and requirement for the use and knowledge of the Irish language are agreed with the appropriate minister before the selection process begins. These will be determined in accordance with the requirements of the job and any statutory (legal) requirements

  • Person specifications are related precisely to the duties of the post

In attracting candidates to a position, the Commission expects that

  • Clear, concise and effective marketing designed to target an appropriate applicant field is communicated openly, to afford equality of opportunity

  • Marketing approaches ensure recruitment is from the widest pool of available (and relevant) talent and experience. Information about employment opportunities will be made available to all potentially eligible applicants in formats and media that are accessible to persons with disabilities

  • Marketing techniques do not exclude any particular group within society

  • In the case of internal appointment processes, all eligible staff members have

    appropriate access to the marketing approaches used

  • All marketing and supporting materials are accessible, unbiased and reflect, where appropriate, the job and person specifications and assessment process that will be followed

  • All reasonable efforts are made to provide an application process which is accessible to all candidates

Regarding assessment methodologies and mechanisms employed in the selection and appointment process, the Commission expects that

  • Assessment mechanisms facilitate the identification and selection of the person or persons who best match the requirements of the post
  • Assessment methodologies are used in line with best practice and consist only of properly validated selection tools and techniques
  • Assessment processes are appropriate to the selection criteria
  • An appropriate means of shortlisting is employed (where shortlisting exercises
  • are carried out)
  • Selection tests, where they are used as part of the selection process, are job- related
  • All reasonable efforts are made to accommodate candidates
  • Enhanced facilities and equipment are provided as necessary to enable candidates to perform to the best of their abilities


The Commission expects an “eligibility sift” to be applied to candidates’ applications for a post, and seeks to ensure that

  • Adequate checks are in place to ensure that a candidate meets the stated eligibility criteria before an offer of appointment is made

  • Candidates are considered eligible for appointment if they fulfil the stated eligibility criteria and have successfully completed the selection process, in compliance with this Code of Practice

  • Candidates who do not satisfy the stated eligibility criteria are disqualified from the process and notified accordingly

Candidates may seek further explanation (feedback) for a decision made regarding their application. The Commission expects that

  • Effective systems are in place to manage the feedback function

  • Clear, specific and meaningful feedback that explains the basis for the decision reached is provided when requested by candidates

An office holder may choose to supplement the feedback provided to its employees in the course of an internal appointment process with personal development guidance, as part of its general employee relations practices. However, these initiatives are not a requirement under this Code of Practice.


Commission expects requests for review of a selection decision and complaints that allege a breach of the Code of Practice to be dealt with in an efficient and timely manner and in line with the Code’s procedures.

High quality training for participants is key to preventing foreseeable problems in the selection and appointment process. The Commission seeks to ensure that

  • All selection practitioners fully understand their role and have the necessary skills to discharge their responsibilities

  • Training is delivered on a timely basis and is appropriate to the specific assessment mechanism to be employed in the selection process

  • Members of selection boards have undergone sufficient relevant training, delivered on a timely basis and appropriate to the specific assessment process to be employed. If this is not the case, members of selection boards should have sufficient interviewing experience at an appropriate level and have the skills required to properly evaluate candidates

  • The selection technique to be used is only decided by individuals who are qualified to select a test that is valid for a particular purpose

  • Chosen selection techniques are only used by appropriately qualified individuals who have been properly trained in their administration, scoring and interpretation

  • Arrangements are in place to ensure that all those involved in the administering an appointment process have the necessary skills to do so

  • Participants are to be given appropriate information on the process

  • Training is current, relevant and delivered to an appropriate standard

  • Training covers both the structure of the process and the context of the appointment. Training should include current and forthcoming legislation

  • The effectiveness of training is monitored and evaluated and follow-up action is taken on an ongoing basis

  • Disability awareness training is provided as appropriate

Regarding management systems and quality assurance in the selection and appointment process, the Commission expects that

  • Effective management systems are in place

  • Controls are in place to ensure that appropriate processes are adopted and


  • Measures are in place to ensure that policies and practices comply with the Code of Practice

  • Appropriate procedures are in place to assure quality in the selection and appointment process

  • The effectiveness of assessment processes is reviewed and evaluated regularly

The Commission expects careful documentation of the selection and appointment process and requires that

  • Fully documented records that clearly support each stage of the process are retained. These will include notes of interviews conducted

  • Documentation supporting assessment stages of the process reflects the selection criteria

  • Documentation that may be audited by the Commission, and information on its use, can be retrieved and accessed

  • Accurate, sufficient and appropriate documentation is issued to candidates. This should include information on how to access this Code of Practice and in particular information about the review and complaint procedures outlined in Sections 7 and 8 of the Code

  • Documentation sets out the specific criteria candidates must fulfil, in line with the requirements of the Act. This means they must

    • »  have the knowledge and ability to discharge the duties of the post concerned

    • »  be of suitable character for the post, and

    • »  be suitable in all other relevant respects for appointment to the post concerned


• If successful, candidates will not be appointed to the post unless they

  • »  agree to undertake the duties attached to the post and accept the conditions under which the duties are, or may be required to be, performed, and

  • »  are fully competent, available to and capable of undertaking those duties

The Commission requires applications to be treated in strict confidence, subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Acts 1997–2014

The Commission requires compliance with the following legislation

  • Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004

  • Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Amendment Act 2013

  • Employment Equality Acts 1998–2011

  • Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014

  • Disability Act 2005

  • Official Languages Act 2003

  • Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003

  • Freedom of Information Acts 1997–2014

  • Protected Disclosures Act 2014

  • Code of Practice for the Employment of People with Disabilities (published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform)