The University aims to attract, select, appoint and retain quality applicants from the widest possible pool of candidates, including existing University of Adelaide staff members and requires that recruitment be competitive, merit based and timely, in accordance with the University’s Recruitment Policy and Procedures.


Frequently asked questions

Candidate interviews and selection

The purpose of these FAQs is to ensure candidates are treated in a fair, equitable and non-discriminatory manner and in line with transparent, consistent and legally compliant recruitment and selection processes.


  • What strategies could I use to ensure candidates are shortlisted in a timely and effective manner?

    It is best practice to ensure that the short-listing process is confirmed, and a short-listing meeting of the Appointment Committee and interview slots are already scheduled at the time the position is advertised. This will ensure a quick turnaround when applications close. The Hiring Co-ordinator has the ability to monitor applications throughout the advertising period to help facilitate the short-listing process. 

    The University’s online recruitment system also enables the Appointment Committee to make comments on applicants without the Committee having to meet. The Hiring Co-ordinator is able to demonstrate how this works.

    When shortlisting candidates for the position: Use the knowledge, experience and qualifications listed in the position description (professional staff) or selection criteria (academic staff) to match applicants to the position and determine your list of candidates for interview.

    If you have a very large number of applications you may wish to come up with a “long list” first of all candidates who meet the selection criteria. You can then short list applicants on essential qualifications first, then on desirable to reduce the list down to a more manageable size.

    The short listing template (Appendix A) may be useful to complete the shortlisting process. 

    Remember, you don’t have to interview all candidates who meet the minimum criteria. Refine your short-list even further by looking at the following: Quality of application i.e. Has care been taken to present the application in a clear format? Is it easy to read? 

    Industry background i.e. Is it appropriate for the position?

    Level of experience i.e. Does the applicant have enough experience in the critical elements of the position? Will it be a stretch for them? Is it a logical step in their career? 

    Added value i.e. Does the applicant bring something to the role that would be valuable to the team or Branch/School. 

    Work rights i.e. Does the applicant have appropriate work rights for Australia? Note: The University is able to provide sponsorship for working visas as long as they meet certain criteria. Contact HR Recruitment for advice in this regard.

    It is best not to select too many candidates to interview. Depending on the type of role 3-4 is generally a good number of people to see. 

    Be consistent in your approach to all applicants. Document decisions and reasons for them.

    Once you have decided on your shortlist, inform your Hiring Co-ordinator and they contact candidates on your behalf. If the interview will involve tasks or activities outside of a formal interview you should inform candidates of this.

  • What should I consider when interviewing candidates?

    • Check if there is a need for any specific arrangements required to accommodate an applicant and make sure these are in place for the interview (e.g. physical access, interpreters, etc). 
    • Prepare questions in advance. Make sure your questions allow the applicant to demonstrate what they can offer the University, and not to simply confirm expectations or to see how the applicant performs under pressure.
    • Maintain consistency and fairness in questioning across all interview candidates.
    • Focus on the real needs of the job (e.g. the essential job requirements outlined in the Position Description.) Don’t make assumptions or stereotype individuals.
    • The Appointment Committee is entitled to ask applicants whether they can fulfil the inherent requirements of the job (e.g. travel, work overtime, perform the physical functions) but such questions must be asked of all candidates. Inherent requirements are the core activities, tasks or skills that are essential to a specific position and would result in significant consequences if they could not be performed.
    • Don’t make assumptions about a person’s ability to do the job based on physical characteristics. It is appropriate to ask people with disabilities whether they require any adjustments to perform the job. 
    • Allow the candidate time to make their point. Allow silence. Rephrase or clarify if necessary.
    • Don’t ask invasive or irrelevant questions (e.g. ‘Do you intend to have a family?’). If necessary rephrase to gain the essential information you require and ask of all applicants (e.g. ‘Can you commit yourself to the University for two years?’).
    • Keep a record of questions and answers for each candidate.


Candidate management

The purpose of these FAQs is to provide information for Hiring Managers and Hiring Co-ordinators to ensure that job applicants are treated with respect and provided with timely and accurate information regarding the status of their application and the recruitment process. 

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  • What candidate management strategies should I use for each recruitment process?

    Although the University’s online recruitment system will acknowledge candidates who apply for roles automatically, ongoing candidate management still remains the responsibility of the Hiring Manager and Hiring Co-ordinator. Successful candidate management strategies ensure that candidates are treated with respect thus creating a good first impression of the University as an employer.

    The following candidate management strategies should be adopted for each recruitment process:

    • Form the Appointment Committee at an early stage in the process, preferably prior to the position being advertised and schedule times for short-listing and interviews to be conducted.
    • The recommended number of committee members should be 2-4. (Please note that Senior Appointments have a separate process.)
    • Advise candidates quickly if they have been short-listed for an interview. Candidates often apply for multiple jobs simultaneously. If the University is slow in responding to their application, candidates may make an assumption that they are not in with a chance for the job and may accept an offer from another employer.
    • Communicate in a timely manner through the University’s online recruitment system informing candidates if their application has been unsuccessful and they are not being shortlisted for interview.
    • Inform candidates of developments in the process, for example if the process is delayed for any reason or if the role is cancelled. You can easily do this through the bulk communicate function in the University’s online recruitment system.
    • At the conclusion of the selection process you will hopefully have a standout candidate who meets the requirements of the role. If you have one or more other candidates who are appointable and you wish to retain their interest while you commence reference checking, please inform the other candidates. It is perfectly reasonable to inform them that you are proceeding with another candidate at present but that they are still under consideration until you are ready to either move forward with them or advise that they are unsuccessful. 


Independent contractors, employees and ‘sham’ contracting arrangements

The purpose of these FAQs is to provide guidance on effectively engaging Independent Contractors and avoiding sham contracting arrangements. This information should be read in conjunction with the Recruitment Procedure, Legal & Risk contracting for services blog, and Finance's purchasing procedures and contract management process.

Further information can be found on the Fair Work Ombudsman – Independent Contractors web page and on the ATO - Employee or Contractor webpage,

Advice contained in this information sheet is of a general nature only. Consult your HR advisor if you have any questions or concerns about an employment arrangement. 


  • When can I engage someone as an independent contractor?

    An independent contractor is usually a self-employed worker who supplies their labour as part of a business they are conducting on their own account for multiple clients. An independent contractor will enter into a contract for services with the University and is usually paid to achieve agreed results within an agreed timeframe. They generally control how and when their work is performed.

    An employee supplies their labour to an employer under a contract of service. As employees, University staff members are covered by the University of Adelaide Enterprise Agreement 2017 – 2021 (as amended) and are required to undertake work in a particular way in accordance with the University’s policies, practices and procedures. They usually report to a supervisor who will be responsible for their work direction.

    To determine whether a worker really will be an independent contractor, you need to look at the whole working arrangement and examine the specific terms and conditions under which you want the work to be performed. Just because someone calls themselves an independent contractor, has an ABN or specialist skills or you only need them during busy periods doesn’t mean they are an independent contractor.

    If you make a mistake and the person you engage is not an independent contractor, under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), there are potentially significant consequences for you which may include:

    • The worker can bring a claim for back-pay, accrued annual leave and/ or long service leave under the University’s Enterprise Agreement;
    • The worker can bring an unfair dismissal or an adverse action claim; and
    • You and the University may be required to pay a financial penalty.

    Look at each scenario carefully before you decide to engage someone as an independent contractor. The following is a check box list to assist you in making this determination. If you can tick any of the following boxes with respect to someone you are thinking about engaging as an independent contractor, please first speak to your HR Advisor as they might well be a staff member at law.

    • Will the University direct the way the worker performs their work?
    • Will the worker perform the work in hours set by the University?
    • Will the worker work within and be considered to be part of the University?
    • Will the worker have a University telephone number or email address?
    • Will the worker always perform the work personally, i.e. cannot delegate the work?
    • Will the worker be paid for time worked, rather than paid according to outcomes achieved based on quotes they provide?
    • Is the worker an ‘individual’ rather than a corporation?
    • Will the worker only perform work for the University, i.e. doesn’t have other clients?
    • Will the worker only, or mostly, use tools and equipment supplied by the University to perform the work?
    • If the worker uses their own tools and equipment, will the University reimburse the worker for this?
    • Is the University legally responsible for the work performed by the worker and liable for the cost of rectifying defects in the work?
    • Are risks of the work the worker performs insured by the University?
  • Can a staff member be an independent contractor at the same time?

    No, individuals who are currently employed by the University in any capacity, including continuing, fixed term, part time or full time, casual and sessional appointments cannot be engaged as an independent contractor at the same time. A staff appointment should not be offered to a person during the period of a contracting agreement with the University.

  • ‘Sham’ contracting arrangements

    If you engage someone as an independent contractor but they are actually a staff member, the contract is a sham. A ‘sham’ contracting arrangement may mean that a person misses out on a range of entitlements that would be available to them under the University’s Enterprise Agreement. You expose the University to the risk of a claim being made under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) for breach of the University’s Enterprise Agreement and/or underpayment.

    It may also mean that other legal obligations that are binding on the University are being avoided, for instance, legal obligations pertaining to the payment of taxation and/ or superannuation.

    The University must not dismiss, or threaten to dismiss, a staff member in order to re-engage them (or another person) as an independent contractor to undertake the same work. Nor should a University staff member be asked to establish themselves as a sole trader, or an incorporated body, in order to perform work ordinarily performed by staff members of the University.

    The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) protects staff members from ‘sham’ contracting arrangements and imposes significant civil penalties on employers, as well as staff members, who are found to have deliberately misrepresented an arrangement as an independent contracting arrangement.

    If the University is found to have contravened the sham contracting provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), then the Fair Work Commission may make a number of orders against you and the University which include;

    1. Fines against the University of up to $54,000 per instance;
    2. Fines for you personally of up to $10,800 per instance;
    3. Reinstatement of a dismissed person; and
    4. Compensation.
  • Restrictions on Re-engaging Former University Staff as Independent Contractors to avoid sham contracting

    Special care should be taken when considering engaging a former University staff member who accepted a voluntary redundancy. The University’s Enterprise Agreement specifically restricts the re-employment of such people within 2 years of their acceptance of a voluntary redundancy, unless you have authority from the Vice-Chancellor. The University only condones the engagement of such a staff member in circumstances of critical business need because of the significant risks which include:


    1. Potentially undermining the genuineness of the redundancy;
    2. Exposing the staff member to having the favourable tax treatment of their redundancy overturned by the Australian Tax Office; and
    3. Creating a sham contract.

    If you find yourself in this situation, contact your HR Advisor before engaging the former staff member.

  • Independent Contractor Restrictions

    As specificed in the University’s Purchasing Procedures and the Contractor Management process, payments to contractors and consultants can only be made if they are a bona fide contractor and no superannuation or payroll tax obligations would arise as a result of the payment. For further information on whether superannuation or payroll tax obligations would arise, follow the process set out on Finance’s Contractor Management website. 

  • University Consultancy Service Agreements

    The University engages its contractors under University Consultancy Services Agreements. These documents should be registered as legal documents through the University Contracts Register and in each case demonstrate that the arrangement is truly commercial in nature.

    If there is no written commercial agreement (for example, no University Consultancy Services Agreement) between the University and a person undertaking work for the University as an independent contractor, there may be a strong argument that the person is, in fact, a staff member of the University and should be engaged and paid in accordance with the terms of the University’s Enterprise Agreement.


Job advertisements

The purpose of these FAQs is to provide clarifying information on advertising a vacant position at the University of Adelaide in order to attract quality applicants who meet the selection criteria from the widest possible pool of candidates (including existing University staff members).

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  • Do I always need to advertise a vacant position?

    For an appointment to be considered competitively advertised, a minimum of one week’s advertising on the University of Adelaide internal job opportunities webpage is required to ensure existing staff have an opportunity to be considered for a vacancy, with the exception of: 

    • Fixed term positions of less than 12 months duration. However, if the position is filled without advertisement, and it is determined that the position needs to continue beyond the original contract term or is identified as being required on a continuing basis, the position shall be required to be advertised. Exceptions to this requirement may only be approved by the Executive Director Human Resources, on presentation of a business case justifying direct appointment;
    • Positions for staff members who are either named or otherwise identified in advance for a position in a research grant or a position for a staff member who has been awarded a fellowship. In both cases the duration of the employment contract is confined to the term of the grant;
    • Where the position is continuing or for more than 12 months, there are exceptional circumstances to consider and an approval is in place from an Executive Dean or Corporate Manager in consultation with the Director, HR;
    • Where a suitable candidate has been identified through the redeployment process;
    • Casual positions
  • What do I need to consider when developing an advertising strategy?

    The University utilises a variety of advertising media to reach potential job seekers, including:

    • University Careers website;
    • On-line advertising on high-traffic and prominent employment websites such as Seek,Linked In, THE, Global Academy Jobs and social media;
    • Press advertising / print media in local, interstate and national newspapers (e.g. The Advertiser, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian);
    • Advertising in industry-specific journals and websites.

    Print vs Online advertising factors must be taken into consideration when selecting your advertising strategy, including but not limited to:

    • Cost to the School/Branch, e.g. print advertising costs between $3000-$5000 on average for a single advertisement, compared to online advertising costing $500-$800 for multiple sites.
    • Print advertising is published once compared to online advertising being continuously published for several weeks.
    • Print advertising relies on candidates who are actively looking for employment, compared to online advertising which will push the advert out to candidates who are not actively looking for employment. 
    • Online advertising is accessible to thousands of applicants via multiple platforms, e.g ipad, pc, tablet, phone.
    • Print advertising should only be used for senior management positions and specialised roles.

    Your Hiring Co-ordinator will enter your preferred advertising strategy and job advertisement details in the Job Card in the University’s online recruitment System. The HR Recruitment team will then co-ordinate the placement of your job advertisement via online and print media based on the Job Card Request in the online recruitment system.

  • What job advertising media is available?

    University Careers Website 

    Normally all vacant positions are advertised on the Careers website (Internal/external as a minimum).

    Online Advertising

    • The University buys job packs directly from on-line media at a reduced rate. The University’s online recruitment system will post your job directly to these websites and link applicants back to our Careers website to apply for the position.

    Industry specific journals and websites

    • The University often places advertisements for academic staff or specialist positions in specialist journals or websites. Please be aware that as some journals are published on a monthly basis you will need to align your application closing date to accommodate the publication date and ensure the best possible exposure of your advertisement.
  • When is it appropriate to engage an external recruitment agency to advertise a job?

    External recruitment agencies are typically used for the recruitment of senior positions, highly specialised positions, or positions that have proven difficult to fill (e.g. previous unsuccessful attempts by the University to fill a position).

    The University does not currently have a preferred supplier panel for recruitment agencies and as such does not advocate the use of specific recruitment suppliers. You may wish to discuss potential recruitment agencies with your Hiring Co-ordinator or the HR Recruitment team.

    If a decision is made to use a recruitment agency, your Hiring Co-ordinator will:

    • Advise the recruitment agency of the University’s Recruitment Policy, Procedure and the University’s online recruitment system. 
    • Request a draft advertisement from the recruitment agency.

    The HR Recruitment team will arrange access the University’s online recruitment system to enable the recruitment agency to upload short-listed candidates into the system and the University to make an offer to the preferred candidate.


Secondment register - hiring managers

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Secondment register - potential secondees

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Selection criteria

The purpose of these FAQs is to provide clarifying information to Hiring Managers who develop selection criteria. 

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  • What purpose do selection criteria serve?

    Selection criteria are the skills, knowledge and qualifications that have been defined as essential (or desirable) to meet the requirements of a position. 

    The purpose of the selection criteria are to:

    • provide both candidates and the Appointment Committee with a definitive list of the skills, knowledge and qualifications that the position requires; 
    • create a benchmark against which all candidates can be fairly judged, initially at the short-listing stage and then at the interview and final selection stage; 
    • assist in ensuring that selection is based on merit. 

    Selection Criteria are developed in line with the applicable Classification Standards in the Enterprise Agreement (as amended) and uploaded into the University’s online recruitment system prior to the commencement of the recruitment process. 

  • What should I consider when developing selection criteria?

    • Decide which criteria are essential for the satisfactory performance of the job and which criteria are only desirable and list them separately.
    • Keep the numbers of essential criteria to a maximum of 10-12 and the desirable characteristics brief.
    • List criteria in priority order.
    • Avoid setting the criteria either so high that they become unrealistic or so broad that most candidates will satisfy them.
    • The requirements should be realistic. Exercise care in the selection of adjectives to describe the extent to which a particular attribute is required. (e.g. 'some knowledge of ...' ,'extensive experience in ...')
    • Consider desirable characteristics where it is difficult to differentiate the relative merit of candidates on the basis of the essential criteria.
    • Write criteria in a way that aids the assessment of a candidate's skills by using terms that describe observable specific behaviours rather than personal qualities, as these are less easy to measure. For example, the term 'initiative' describes a personal quality that can be defined in different ways by different people and in different job contexts. It would be better to define it in terms of behaviour in the selection criteria as, for example, 'the ability to identify tasks which need to be done and to complete these tasks with limited supervision'.
    • Ensure essential specialist knowledge generally relates to the relevant field of practice, with knowledge of the specifics of the University environment included as 'desirable'.
    • Decide whether minimum qualifications identified are essential, as many skills and abilities can be acquired without formal education. Refer to the applicable Classification Standards Descriptions in the Enterprise Agreement for additional information.
    • List educational qualifications not considered to be 'essential' as 'desirable' for the specific position.
    • Take care not to overstate the attributes which are essential, as this may limit the group of people likely to apply.
    • If the degree of achievement on particular criteria is regarded as having greater weight than for other criteria, ensure this is stated as part of the selection criteria. In some circumstances, for some essential criteria, a level of competence above the minimum required carries greater weight than for other items in distinguishing between suitable candidates.
    • Avoid using terminology which might be unfamiliar to external candidates. 
    • Describe the skills and experience required but not the type of person who might have them, for example: Do use: "demonstrated ability to supervise administrative staff" 
    • Don't use: "minimum of 5 years supervisory experience", or "mature person with supervisory experience".
    • Ensure there is a logical and consistent link between the selection criteria and the job advertisement.


Staff transfer to another position in the University

The purpose of these FAQs is to provide some guidance to staff who are transferring from one position to another within the University.

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