Before you begin the recruitment process

Getting the right people, in the right roles, at the right time requires workforce planning and effective recruitment strategies. This includes attracting and retaining people from both government and non-government sectors.

Act and directives

Recruitment and selection processes within the public service are governed by:

Key requirements under the Act and directives:

Request advice about directives.

The merit principle

Section 27 of the Public Service Act 2008 states selections must be based on merit alone. Selecting an applicant from a list of candidates who have responded to a job advertisement does not constitute a merit process. The assessment process involves determining who is the most suitable, having regard to the components of merit.

The merit principle is defined in Section 28 of the Public Service Act 2008 as the extent to which the person has abilities, aptitude, skills, qualifications, knowledge, experience and personal qualities relevant to the carrying out of the duties in question, and if relevant:

  • the way in which the person carried out any previous employment or occupational duties
  • the extent to which the person has potential for development.

The merit principle is also referred to in the recruitment and selection directive.

The selection panel should use selection techniques that are relevant to the role and enable them to assess the overall merit of applicants and avoid limiting their assessment to one component of merit or one aspect of the process.


Recruitment and selection processes must be conducted in a way that is open, fair and consistent. Appointment decisions must be apolitical, and free from bias or influence from private interests or external pressures.

The recruitment and selection directive outlines panel members and the delegate must disclose any potential, perceived or actual conflict of interests so that they can be considered and resolved in the public interest. Similarly, panel members and the delegate must also declare and record the absence of any potential, perceived or real conflict of interest.

It is important for the panel to document the reasons for making a particular selection decision in a way that allows for independent review. The documentation of the process must include a statement that explains how the panel has arrived at the decision to recommend a particular candidate as meritorious for appointment.

Inclusion and diversity

Inclusion and diversity needs to be taken into account at each stage of the recruitment and selection process.

The selection panel is responsible for ensuring that panel members are aware of any hidden bias they may have and that meritorious private-sector candidates are considered fully in public sector recruitment processes.

Examples of how diversity can be a part of the merit conversation:

  • reframe the employment conversation from seeking and developing the 'best candidate' to seeking and developing the 'best teams'
  • be open to flexible work arrangements
  • introduce bias interrupters at all stages of the process.

Reasonable adjustment

Agencies are required to offer equal opportunities to all applicants and when necessary make reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of workers with a disability.

There is a legal obligation to provide reasonable adjustment to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities and failing to provide this may constitute unlawful discrimination.