How to Hire a Staff Position

The information below has been summarized from the University of Pennsylvania's Hiring Officer Handbook. All hiring officers are encouraged to review the handbook in its entirety for more detailed information about navigating the hiring process at Annenberg and Penn.

Step One: Consult with ASC Human Resources Office

Before initiating the hiring process, all hiring officers must communicate to the ASC Human Resources Manager the type of position needed, what funding source will support it, and whether appropriate approvals for the hire have been received. The HR office will work with hiring officers to provide support throughout the hiring process. All job offers must first be approved by the ASC Human Resources Office and Penn central HR, and an offer of employment should never be made without this approval. 

Step Two: Creating an Effective Job Description

Developing a full and accurate job description is crucial to the hiring process. A well-written job description serves as both a position classification and recruitment tool. Descriptions should fully detail the responsibilities, necessary functions, working conditions, and minimum qualifications for an individual to successfully perform the job. The job description should be written in such a way that it both accurately depicts the position and attracts qualified applicants.


Describe the school, department, and/or program in which this position resides. Outline the purpose of the position, and provide details about the work to be performed. It is not necessary to include every responsibility, though it is wise to be thorough about those responsibilities that make up the overwhelming majority of the position. Avoid using jargon or acronyms that are not widely known, except in IT positions where they're commonly used and are important to illustrate the skillset required for qualified applicants.


List the qualifications necessary to successfully perform the job. Required qualifications should be listed first, such as minimum level of education, years of experience, and necessary skills. Follow this with preferred qualifications such as “excellent customer service skills required,” “knowledge of Penn-specific systems a plus,” “must be detail-oriented,” etc. This can help attract a more qualified applicant pool. Remember that your final candidate must possess the minimum qualifications provided in the job description, so if a position is posted with a Bachelor's degree required, the final candidate must have a degree in order to be hired. In some instances it's best to post certain qualifications as "strongly preferred" rather than “required.” Include any physical requirements, such as heavy lifting, that are related to the essential functions of the job.

Read more about creating an effective job description here, and consult with the ASC Human Resources Office when drafting a description.

Step Three: Posting the Position

All hiring officers should work with the ASC Human Resources Office to post positions on the Careers@Penn site through the PeopleAdmin system. PeopleAdmin allows hiring officers to efficiently manage their open positions and applicant pools by providing online access to all application materials, as well as the ability to move applicants through the work-flow process in real-time.

Instructions for using PeopleAdmin will be provided by the ASC Human Resources Office when the position has been posted.

Positions may be posted on other external employment websites and job boards, but all applicants must also apply online at Careers@Penn. No candidate should be interviewed without completing a Penn employment application and applying to the position online. Some applicants may route resumes to hiring officers directly, however they must apply via Careers@Penn for compliance purposes.

Positions must be posted for at least seven calendar days before a hiring proposal can be submitted.

More information about how to post a position at Penn.

Step Four: Screening & Interviewing Applicants

After you have reviewed resumes and identified potential applicants, you may contact the applicants directly to arrange a phone screen or in-person interview. The applicant status in PeopleAdmin should be changed to “Will Be Selected for an Interview,” and the applicant will receive a system-generated email informing them they will be contacted.

Sometimes a brief telephone screening with a potential candidate is helpful before arranging a face-to-face interview. Phone screens should be a short dialogue that allows you to learn more about the individual, ask preliminary questions, and get a sense of the overall fit-in capacity of the candidate. Detailed questions regarding work experience, specialized skills, management experience, etc., should be saved for a face-to-face interview.

The in-person interview is one of the most valuable aspects of the hiring process. There are several different types of interviews, and it's important to plan ahead for interviews in order to make them a productive experience for you and the candidate. Notes from screening calls and interviews should be kept for reference when evaluating candidates at a later date.

Click here for information about preparing for interviews, what kind of interview is best for your open position, which interview questions are (and aren't) allowed, and more.

Step Five: Checking References

The University of Pennsylvania requires that a minimum of two professional references are obtained from individuals who were the applicant's direct supervisor in previous positions. If the applicant is a finalist for the position, one of the references must be from the most current supervisor.

No reference checks should ever be made without the express written approval of the applicant. If requested by the applicant, the reference from the current supervisor can be delayed until after a conditional offer of employment is made and accepted. The offer will be contingent upon the completion of a satisfactory reference check from the current supervisor.

A standard reference check form is available for download here. This form is a standard guide, but additional questions can be asked dependent upon the specific requirements of the position.

Step Six: Hiring Your Preferred Candidate

No hiring officer should make a formal offer of employment to any candidate prior to the completion and approval of a hiring proposal. All hiring proposals must be prepared by the ASC Human Resources Office, and all hiring officers should consult with the Human Resources Manager in order to provide the information necessary to develop and submit a hiring proposal to Penn central HR.

Once identified, the preferred candidate should be informed that they are the preferred candidate and that approval from Penn central HR is required before an official offer can be made. It should be made clear to the candidate that all salaries are set by Penn and not the school. When approval has been received, an offer should be made via telephone or email. If a verbal offer is made, it should be followed up with an email. The approved salary is the only salary that may be offered. If the offer is accepted, a start date should be set, and acceptance of the offer should be communicated to the ASC Human Resources office so that the official offer letter can be drafted and sent to the candidate for their signature.

In some cases it may be helpful to include recruitment information about Penn and the Annenberg School. Information about Penn's distinction as a “Best Employer” can be found here, and a “Why Annenberg at Penn?” recruitment document is available upon request through the ASC Human Resources office. Email Donna Burdumy to request a copy.


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