The Position Description – your roadmap to recruitment success

Ange Connor

How important and valuable is a Position Description when it comes to recruiting? Many businesses under estimate the importance and value of the position description and in many small to medium organisations, they don’t even exist.

When it comes to recruiting, the naïve recruiter or hiring manager thinks that their recruitment process centres around running an advert, interviewing and selecting the best candidate. If you really want a successful outcome for your next recruitment process then you need to take a couple of steps back before launching your advertising.

Recruiting starts with the Position Description. The position description (PD) is integral throughout the entire recruitment process and should be used to guide you from start to finish. It is your roadmap to recruiting success.


Very rarely do businesses invest the time in thoroughly reviewing an existing PD before starting to recruit following a resignation. Although you might not think off the top of your head that the role has changed since you last recruited for it; it’s worth taking your time to work through the PD to ensure it is still accurate. If a PD doesn’t exist, before you fill the vacancy or create this new position, investing the time in developing a PD will be well worth your time and effort.

The PD is your opportunity to get the thoughts floating around in your head about the role, its requirements and your expectations down on paper to give you clarity. It allows you to gather input from others as to what the role looks like and requires on a day to day basis. You might be surprised by the information and feedback you gather as often managers can have very different perceptions of a role from someone who has filled the role or worked side by side the incumbent.

If you think of the PD as your roadmap for recruiting the right person to the job, it’s essential that the PD accurately and realistically reflects the position. Get the PD wrong and you’ll have the wrong roadmap and when you follow the wrong road you end up in the wrong place. Once you’ve nailed your PD, it will drive the rest of the recruitment process.

How can you use the PD to your advantage during the recruitment process?

  • The PD will drive the content of your job advert. It will determine how you pitch the vacancy so that you attract the right candidates from the outset. Without a PD you’ll run the risk of asking for the wrong skill set which means the wrong people end up applying for the job.
  • The PD drives the criteria you’ll use to shortlist applications for phone interviews and interviews. Having an accurate PD in place at this stage helps you conduct a fair and discrimination free recruitment process. Using the criteria detailed in the PD to shortlist will rule out bias and ensure you shortlist the right candidates for the job based on their ability to fulfil the responsibilities of the job.
  • The PD will drive the questions you draft to ask at interview stage. As the PD outlines the skills, experience, qualifications and attributes required for the role, it makes sense that the interview questions centre around asking the candidate to demonstrate what they have to offer in each area. If you are asking questions about other areas of expertise how are you going to determine they can meet the responsibilities of the role?
  • The PD also drives the questions that you ask the referee. In my experience too many people underestimate the value of reference checking. Often this is because the recruiter/hiring manager doesn’t prepare questions, they jump on the phone ask a couple of basic questions and if the referee would re-hire the candidate again and away they go. A comprehensive reference check will be tailored to the position description. The questions asked should be about how the candidate has handled like responsibilities and how their skill set matches the skills detailed in the PD.
  • The PD comes in handy when you are skills testing and/or utilising behavioural profiling. Once you have your reports/results you should be checking to see how those results compare against the PD selection criteria. That information should also then be compared against responses provided at interview and the feedback gathered through reference checking. If there are gaps or a mis-alignment of information this is your cue to investigate further.
  • The PD will also be useful when it comes to salary benchmarking and working out where the position fits compared to award and market rates. The information contained in the PD will detail the level of responsibility, autonomy, decision making and need to exercise judgement which is then reflected through the salary on offer. It will arm you with the evidence needed to negotiate salary based on fact not opinion.

As you can see the PD plays a crucial role throughout the entire recruitment process and is your road map to recruiting success. And it doesn’t stop there. The PD is invaluable in the on-boarding and transitioning of the employee into your business and the role. It will be key in measuring the candidates success in the role.

While it might seem like a time consuming process to develop a PD prior to starting a recruitment process, it will save you time during the process as it will guide you through every stage and keep you on track in ensuring you appoint the right candidate for the right reasons.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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