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Guidance for employing professorial staff

Understand the University procedure to recruiting and hiring professorial staff.



The Recruitment Code of Practice outlines the University’s approach to the recruitment and selection of staff.

We recognise that there are specific issues and needs in relation to the appointment of professorial staff. This guidance has been developed to support the recruitment of professorial staff. The principles are the same as any academic recruitment process and should be carried out in line with the University’s Recruitment Code of Practice.

Please note that the following references are used in this guidance:

  • where Dean of Faculty is referred to, for the School of Management please substitute with Head and Dean of the School of Management

  • where Head of Department is referred to, for the School of Management please substitute with Head of Group

Roles and responsibilities

Senior Appointment Team

The Senior Appointments Team (SAT) will review all requests to recruit to new professorial positions. A completed professorial recruitment form is required for all requests and can be located on the SRF form or downloaded as a separate Word document.

Chair of Selection Panel

The Chair of the Selection Panel will normally be the Dean of the Faculty. The Dean will identify the elements of a start-up package which can be provided for an individual.

The Search Committee

The Search Committee will normally comprise of:

  • Dean of the Faculty in which the vacancy is based (who will act as Chair)

  • Head of Department in which the vacancy is based

  • at least one other member of professorial staff from the Department in which the vacancy is based

  • one other member of professorial staff from another Department who could add value to the process for example, through their own expertise or experience

In drawing up the membership of the Search Committee, the Dean of Faculty should take note of the University’s equality obligations and aim to achieve gender balance in the composition of the Committee.

The Search Committee will have responsibility for:

  • developing the advert and supporting brochure

  • deciding where and when to advertise the post

  • deciding whether other options for sourcing candidates should be considered

  • identifying who should act as the Search Champion(s)

  • identifying people who may be interested in applying for the post

  • identifying members of the Selection Panel

  • setting the date for the selection process if not already done

The Search Champion

As a member of the Search Committee, the role of the Search Champion is to:

  • contact the people identified to advise them of the vacancy and the application process for it

  • identify and contact any other potential applicants for the vacancy

  • meet any potential candidates as part of the pre-application process

The Selection Panel

The Selection Panel will normally comprise of:

  • Dean of the Faculty in which the vacancy is based (who will Chair the Panel)

  • Head of Department in which the vacancy is based

  • at least one other member of professorial staff

The Selection Panel will have responsibility for:

  • short-listing the candidates for interview

  • developing a programme for the selection day

  • conducting the selection process

  • deciding on the preferred candidate

To ensure a separation of responsibilities between the search and selection process, the Search Champion(s) must not form part of the Selection Panel. External representatives, for example experts in the discipline being recruited to, can also be considered at this stage. In line with best practice guidelines, the panel must have a gender mix, and ideally be visibly diverse.

Human Resources (HR)

The relevant HR Business Partner and Talent Acquisition Specialist will be available to support both the Search Committee and the Selection Panel. They will be able to provide advice on the most effective approach for recruiting staff and the different options for sourcing candidates. Support can be provided to the Selection Panel through attendance at the selection process, contributing to questioning and the overall assessment of candidates.

The recruitment and selection process

Approval to recruit

The Senior Appointment Team (SAT) will consider all requests to fill permanent and fixed term vacancies with the exception of wholly externally funded research contract posts. Vacancies at academic departmental level must be recommended by the Dean of Faculty.

The standard procedure for seeking approval for new posts and the filling of vacancies should be followed. The approval process requires the submission of the job description, person specification and a professorial recruitment template. All professorial appointments require a job description and person specification in the standard format.


Upon receipt of the approval to recruit, the Dean of the Faculty concerned, in consultation with the Head of Department, will establish a Search Committee. If an external search exercise is required the Dean should consult with the Talent Acquisition Specialist in HR.

The Committee will draw up the advert and supporting documentation and initiate the search process through the Search Champion(s).

Every attempt should be made to ensure that the field of potential applicants for the initial contact is as diverse and representative of that academic community as possible. Search Champion(s) may wish to use a range of sourcing methods to identify and target suitable candidates. Examples of methods to use could include targeting other HEIs, and accessing professional networking sites and professional networking bodies.

If the Search Champion(s) meets any potential candidates as part of the pre-application process, it needs to be clear that this is not part of the formal assessment process. The purpose of the meeting is to provide further information on the vacancy, the Department and the University, and find out any particular needs or expectations from the potential applicant.

Brochures have been produced for each Faculty and School to provide further information on the University, the Department and the vacancy. This will need to be updated with the details of the vacancy.


Once the content of the advert and the supporting recruitment documentation have been finalised by the Search Committee, it should be passed to the Recruitment Team who will arrange for appropriate placement.

The Recruitment Team are able to provide guidance on where to place vacancies including where to advertise posts internationally. Specialist advice is also available from the University’s media agency, on improving the response rate for vacancies which may have a limited market or are hard to fill.

Appointments to all established professorial posts should be advertised externally in line with the Recruitment Code of Practice.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may create a post for a named individual or fill a vacant post by invitation if the University’s interests will be best served by doing so. Such exceptions will require the approval of the Director of Human Resources.


The Dean has responsibility for convening the Selection Panel to carry out the short-listing process. Please refer to our guidance on shortlisting candidates.

The Chair of the Selection Panel will review what steps have been taken to encourage female candidates to apply for the post as women are currently underrepresented at this level in the University.

The shortlisted candidates will be contacted by the Recruitment Team with the details of the assessment and selection process. Unsuccessful candidates will be advised of the outcome of their application by Human Resources.

Assessment and selection

It is expected that a range of selection methods suitable for assessing both the desirable and essential criteria are used as this will enhance objective decision making which is difficult through interview alone.

Candidates need to be clearly advised which selection activities are part of the formal assessment process.

In some instances the Selection Panel may invite the shortlisted candidates to give a seminar or presentation ahead of the formal selection process. Subject to the agreement of candidates, the audience may be a larger group than the Selection Panel. The feedback from the audience should be conveyed to the Head of Department who will pass it on to the Selection Panel for consideration as part of its discussions following the formal selection process.

Shortlisted candidates residing outside of the UK can either be interviewed remotely (e.g. MS Teams, video, Zoom) or as part of a face to face selection process. However, no appointment should be made without a face to face interview.

Please refer to our guidance for the Chair of the Selection Panel and members of interview panels.


Once the Selection Panel has decided on the preferred candidate, it is the responsibility of the Chair to offer the post and negotiate the starting package. This will usually include salary, relocation support and any departmental ‘setting-up’ package and will be following consultation with the Dean, DVC, Director of HR and Director of Finance as appropriate. Final approval of the package is required by the Vice-Chancellor before a contract can be issued. The status of the offer process should be recorded by the Chair in the tracker spread sheet.

If negotiations are prolonged, the Chair can request the Recruitment Team in Human Resources to send a letter to other candidates under consideration explaining that negotiations are still taking place.


Subject to the standard pre-commencement clearances, once a start date is agreed with the successful candidate, the Dean has responsibility for arranging the specific induction programme for professorial staff.

When the contract is returned by the successful candidate, the details of any start up- commitments will be confirmed by the Pro-VC Research. The Dean will have responsibility for communicating the terms of the start-up commitments with the relevant individuals at Faculty level.


It is essential that confidentiality is maintained throughout the entire process. It falls to the Search Committee and Selection Panel to decide on the degree of confidentiality that will be observed in respect of applications for the vacancy.

As a general rule, the names of all applicants for vacant posts should remain confidential to the Search Committee and Selection Panel members unless agreed otherwise. On no account must any references be circulated outside the Selection Panel.

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