Person Specifications

Do not include wholly irrelevant criteria.

Criteria relating to skills or knowledge should not be unnecessarily restrictive by specifying particular qualifications to be necessary or desirable.

Make reference to “equivalent qualifications” or to “equivalent levels of skill or knowledge” in order to avoid indirect discrimination against applicants sharing a particular protected characteristic if this group is less likely to have obtained the qualification.

The level of qualification needed should not be overstated. Employers should avoid specifying qualifications that were not available a generation ago, such as GCSEs, without stating that equivalent qualifications are also acceptable.

As far as possible, they should use criteria that can be tested objectively. For example, attributes such as “leadership” should be defined in terms of measurable skills or experience.

Including health requirements can amount to direct discrimination against disabled people, where those requirements lead to a blanket exclusion of people with particular impairments and do not allow individual circumstances to be considered. Except in specified circumstances, it is unlawful to ask questions about health or disability before the offer of a job is made or a person is placed in a pool of people to be offered a job

Including criteria that relate to health, physical fitness or disability, such as asking applicants to demonstrate a good sickness record, may amount to indirect discrimination against disabled people in particular, unless these criteria can be objectively justified by the requirement of the actual job in question.

Including requirements that relate to physical attributes may discriminate not only against some disabled applicants but also those with other protected characteristics, unless the criteria can be objectively justified.


  • Asking for “so many years” experience could amount to indirect discrimination because of age unless this provision can be objectively justified.
  • A requirement for continuous experience could indirectly discriminate against women who have taken time out from work for reasons related to maternity or childcare, unless the requirement can be objectively justified.
  • A requirement that a candidate must be “active and energetic” when the job is sedentary is an irrelevant criterion. It could be discriminatory against some disabled people who are less mobile.
  • Requiring a UK-based qualification, when equivalent qualifications obtained abroad would also meet the requirement for that particular level of knowledge or skill, may lead to indirect discrimination because of race, if the requirement cannot be objectively justified.
  • A person specification states that applicants must have “good health”. This criterion is too broad to relate to any specific requirement of the job and is therefore likely to amount to direct discrimination because of disability.