Human Resources

Queen's University
Search Type

Human Resources

Human Resources

site header

Research Grant & Contract Employee Hiring

The following information is provided to assist Principal Investigators and other managers hiring Research, Grant and Contract (RG&C) employees.  The documentation outlined below identifies the various stages in the hiring process, from the earliest phases of planning, approval and creation of the job description, through the posting, interview and selection stage and concluding with the offer, employment contract and onboarding processes.

Details are provided on all the elements needed for an effective hiring process, including procedures to encourage diversity in the Queen's workforce and ensure compliance with hiring policies and employment legislation.

Questions?  Contact your HR Advisor


  1. Offers of Continuing Appointments
  2. Business Process Overview
  3. Process checklist
  4. Legislative Issues
  5. Hiring Process Tools
  6. Financial & Budget Considerations
  7. Job Evaluation and Posting
  8. Advertisements
  9. Planning the Interview and selection Process
  10. Conducting the Interview
  11. Conducting Reference Checks
  12. Finalizing the Offer
  13. After the Employment Contract is Signed
  14. Approving Research Contracts in PeopleSoft
  15. Final Steps 

1. Offers of Continuing Appointments

In March 2016, the Vice-Principals’ Operations Committee (VPOC) approved an amendment to the Research Grant & Contract (RG&C) hiring process to offer continuing appointments to RG&C employees with more than five years of continuous service with the University. VPOC also directed that new hires would now be offered continuing appointments as the typical practice, with employment contracts that contain appropriate termination provisions.  PI’s retain the option to offer term contracts, where this is agreed to be appropriate through discussion with HR of the unique circumstances of the hire.

Return to Top

2. Business Process Overview

Flowchart image of Business Process Overview

Return to Top

3. Process Checklist

This checklist is intended to assist those responsible for hiring research, grant and contract employees, by providing an easy-reference that outlines the major steps involved in this hiring process. It is important when a project proposal is initially planned, to consider these employment processes. Further details on all aspects of the hiring process are included in additional sections below.

  • Budget:
    When budgeting, determine required staff salaries, employer's benefits contribution, payments to central fund and special fund, as well as indirect cost recovery.
     
  • Notification:
    The recipient of research funding and University Research Services receive a notice of award from the funding agency.
     
  • Documentation and Research Account:
    University Research Services will verify that certifications have been obtained (if required) for human ethics, animal care, biohazards and radiation safety and then request Financial Services open researcher's account.
     
  • Salary and Position Summary:
    Before beginning a hiring process, contact your HR Advisor for advice on the Position Summary and appropriate salary grade.
     
  • Advertising:
    Advertise the position on the Human Resources website. Research, Grant and Contract vacancies appear in the 'Careers' section under the heading 'Research Postings' and are open to internal and external applicants.
     
  • The Interview:
    Prior to the interviews, develop interview questions based on job-criteria. Plan to use these job-related criteria to evaluate candidates when reviewing résumés and conducting interviews.
     
  • References:
    Contact at least two or three references, including current and former supervisors, for verification of the candidate's qualifications and their past experience.
     
  • Verbal offer:
    A verbal offer should serve to confirm only the intent to hire, the proposed start date and starting salary. Indicate when making the verbal offer that all other details regarding terms and conditions of employment will be subsequently provided in writing. Coordinate the timing of a verbal offer with your HR Advisor, to ensure the written offer can be sent to the candidate without delay. 
     
  • Employment Contract:
    Once verbal confirmation of start date and salary are received, notify your HR Advisor. The HR Advisor will then prepare an Employment Contract for the Candidate. Once the signed contract is returned to HR, your HR Advisor will provide the PI with confirmation of receipt, so that the PI can then arrange for the hiring steps to be completed within the Human Resources PeopleSoft system, by the Departmental Administrator. Signed contracts must be received by Human Resources prior to the start date.
     
  • Completing the Hire in PeopleSoft:
    Advise your Departmental Administrator that they can initiate the hire in PeopleSoft. They will require the candidate’s mailing address, date of birth, position number and social insurance number to process the hire. The contract will be sent to you and your department head for electronic workflow approval.
     
  • Notify Other Candidates:
    Once a position has been accepted by a candidate, notify those who were interviewed that another candidate has been offered and accepted the position. Be prepared to provide feedback if necessary.
     
  • Maintain Notes:
    Notes made during the process must be retained for two years to support reasons for the selection. This ensures available information should the selection be challenged.

Return to Top

4. Legislative Issues

Those conducting a recruitment process will need to be aware of various aspects of Human Rights and Employment Equity legislation. The following outlines the basic principles of the legislation. Later sections of this hiring guide provide the practical steps to ensure appropriate actions that comply with legislation and University policy. During the initial stages of the hiring process, review and become knowledgeable about effective hiring practices.

It is recommended all hiring managers take the University’s ‘Recruitment Bootcamp’ training program, which is offered by Human Resources at least twice annually.  To register, visit the Learning Catalogue.

Ontario Human Rights Code

An important function of the Ontario Human Rights Code is to promote equal employment opportunity regardless of race, colour, ancestry, creed (religion), place of origin, ethnic origin, citizenship, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity), sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status, disability, receipt of public assistance. Although those involved in hiring processes are normally aware of the basic concepts associated with the need to avoid discriminatory practices during a recruitment process, many are not familiar with the specific requirements and practical steps to promote a process that not only complies with legislation but also tends to attract a broad pool of qualified candidates.

These and the various how-to's of putting into practice actions that accord with Human Rights legislation are detailed in this guide and include ways to avoid the pitfalls of illegal and irrelevant queries. Example: using selection criteria that are based on the job-related requirements.

Other Equity Legislation

The University is committed to the principles of equity and to implementing policies and practices that encourage the full participation of disadvantaged groups. The University is regulated by employment equity legislation under the Federal Contractors Program which covers four groups: women, visible minorities, aboriginal people and persons with disabilities.

For further information on procedures to encourage equity and diversity in the Queen's workforce please visit HR's Employment Equity page. The University's goals for achieving employment equity are detailed in the Employment Equity Framework.

Return to Top

5. Hiring Process Tools

During the initial stages of the hiring process, review and become knowledgeable about effective hiring practices. It is recommended all hiring managers take the University’s ‘Recruitment Bootcamp’ training program, which is offered at least twice annually.  To register, visit the Learning Catalogue.

The following tools will help guide and assist you in planning for the various considerations and stages in any recruitment initiative.

 

Return to Top

6. Financial & Budget Considerations

Preliminary Phase (Budgeting)

In order to ensure that an adequate level of compensation is available to support the required salary associated with a hiring, during the planning stage of the project or research proposal, the budget will need to allow for some specific financial requirements. University Research Services provides information for researchers about preparation of the proposal, research related forms, staff contacts, etc., while the Human Resources department provides information specific to compensation and employment. The following are some examples of financial considerations to take into account during the planning phase:

Salary

Determine and budget for the appropriate, required level of compensation for this particular contract position. Contact your HR Advisor to be advised of the appropriate salary. Remember to budget for the annual July 1 salary increases for research, grant and contract staff.

Employer's Contribution for Benefits

The employer's contribution for benefits mandated by law or elected by the employee may amount to an additional 30% of the salary paid to the research, grant or contract employee.

Central Fund

Allow for required payments to the central fund. This fund was established to provide for payments to research, grant and contract employees necessitated by sick leave, maternity, paternity and adoption leaves, notice and severance pay and benefits for long term disability recipients. It provides internal insurance for those at Queen's who employ research, grant and contract employees and spreads the cost of certain employment-related expenses among those hiring such employees. Contributions to the central fund are required for all those at Queen's who employ research, grant and contract employees and involves payment of an amount equal to 2.5% of all salaries paid to research, grant and contract employees. When the need arises, reimbursement by the central fund is arranged by contacting Human Resources.

Tuition Support and Childcare Fund

This fund was established in order to fund the child care benefit plan and the tuition support plan for research, grant and contract employees. Those who employ RG&C employees contribute an amount equal to 1% of all salaries paid to contract employees.  Learn more about the Child Care Support Plan and the Tuition Support Plan.

Indirect Cost Recovery (Overhead)

The project budget should account for indirect cost recovery. The percent rate at which the University recovers indirect costs is detailed in the Indirect Costs of Sponsored Research Policy. Indirect costs are real costs to the University, including but not limited to such items as occupancy cost, building use, central administration, library costs and central computing services costs.

Sick Leave

Those at Queen's who employ research, grant and contract workers are responsible for paying the first month's salary of an employee on sick leave. The next few months of sick leave (up to five months) will be paid from the central fund, upon presentation of a statement from the employee's doctor.

Absences beyond this six-month continuous period can be insured (at the employee's expense and if the employee chooses this benefit) and covered by the Long-Term Disability Plan. The Sick Leave plan is administered in accordance with the Sick Leave Policy.

Maternity, Parental and Adoption Leave

The central fund pays the University's contribution to the salary and benefits during maternity and parental leaves, in accordance with the policy. However, those at Queen's who employ research, grant and contract employees are responsible for any accrued vacation entitlement while the employee is on maternity or parental leave.

Benefits Associated With LTD

The central fund pays employer benefit costs associated with Long-Term Disability.

Notice and Severance Pay

As well, those at Queen's who employ research, grant and contract employees are responsible for paying the first increment of severance pay equivalent to two weeks' salary of a non-renewed or terminated contract employee. The central fund will then pay any additional severance pay required under the Employment Standards Act and/or pursuant to the terms of an employment contract.

Contributions to the central fund for research, grant and contract employees, currently specified as 2.5% of salary, will be adjusted annually when appropriate to ensure that no substantial deficit accumulates.

Return to Top

7. Job Evaluation and Posting

Once a vacancy for a Research, Grant & Contract (RG&C) position is identified, complete the Approval to Fill a Vacancy Form (HR-FRM-028) and submit it to your HR Advisor, along with the Position Summary (job description).  Note that the form includes details on the type of appointment (term, continuing or continuing-term), reporting relationship, as well as the hours of work and other employment terms. The form is subject to appropriate approvals, prior to submission, in keeping with the University’s ‘Policy on Approval and Execution of Contracts and Invoices’, specifically section H – employment contracts.

Use the Position Summary Template to capture the key responsibilities, qualifications, special skills and decision making required for the role.

The Position Summary is a vital component in any recruitment procedure. It is the basis for determining the appropriate level of compensation for the position, an aid in developing the employment advertisement and a tool for determining whether candidates are qualified for the position.

The aim is to create a realistic picture of the job, one that reflects the nature and scope of the position. Use action words that clearly express the nature of the tasks required. As a preliminary step to completing the position summary, view the QJE (Queen’s Job Evaluation) Generic Position Overviews to aid in the development of an accurate Position Summary. Normally, positions for research, grant and contract employees will fall within the NAS (Natural and Applied Science) family. See the salaries associated with each position on the Salary Grid and Salary Range charts.

If you require assistance in developing the position summary, contact your HR Advisor who will work with you to finalize the position summary and evaluate the position to assign the grade level, which determines the hiring salary. Your HR Advisor will also create the position in PeopleSoft if necessary. The approved position summary will be used for job posting if applicable.

If job posting is needed

The approved position summary is used to post in the Research Job Posting System. This easy-to-use system allows researchers to directly post jobs on the Careers page of the Human Resources website.  Alternatively, your HR Advisor can post the job on your behalf.

If job posting is not needed

If a successful candidate has already been identified, indicate this to your HR Advisor when you submit the Approval to Fill a Vacancy Form (HR-FRM-028) and Position Summary.  Also provide the candidate’s resume.  Your HR Advisor will prepare an offer letter on your behalf and advise you on final steps required for hiring the individual into the role.

Return to Top

8. Advertisements

It is recommended that all hiring opportunities be advertised on the Human Resources website. Advertising widely tends to attract a broader pool of qualified, diverse applicants and, as well, furthers the University goals for achieving employment equity. The content and appearance of the ad is also important and will have a direct impact on applicant response. As well, the ad presentation, when published externally, will reflect (either positively or negatively) on the University.

A job advertisement for a research, grant and contract position will ideally include some specific criteria (see the following listing). At the same time, the University appreciates the fact that those who hire contract employees are from a diverse group of units and therefore face differing circumstances and challenges. While those with more resources at their disposal are in a position to create and publish a more comprehensive external advertisement, others may be operating on a limited budget and require a smaller ad, one that recognizes their particular need for cost containment. The sample employment advertisement above is designed to allow for flexibility to meet the diverse requirements of various units and present a range of formats, designs and sizes.

Regardless of the availability of funding, the Position Summary should be the basis for the advertisement. As well, an appropriate employment equity statement is required in all Queen's University employment advertisements when published externally.

The following is a list of basic features to include in the job ad:

  • Queen's logo (when positions are advertised in external publications)
  • Title of the position
  • Employing department
  • Duration of contract
  • Principal duties and responsibilities (based on the Position Summary)
  • Qualifications
  • Salary grade and hiring salary
  • Request for letter of application, resume and references
  • Name, title and address of the person receiving the applications
  • Closing date
  • A note indicating that only those chosen for interviews will be contacted
  • Employment equity statement:

The University invites applications from all qualified individuals. Queen's is committed to employment equity and diversity in the workplace and welcomes applications from women, visible minorities, aboriginal people, persons with disabilities and persons of any sexual orientation or gender identity.

  • Note: In situations where the body of the ad contains 75 words or less, an abbreviated employment equity statement may be substituted as follows:

"Queen's University is an equal opportunity employer."

  • Accessibility statement:

“Queen’s is committed to an inclusive campus community with accessible goods, services, and facilities that respect the dignity and independence of persons with disabilities. (Your document/event/service, etc.) is available in an accessible format or with appropriate communication supports upon request.”

Hiring units are encouraged to advertise positions on the Human Resources website to ensure that current Queen's employees are aware of job vacancies. Research, Grant and Contract vacancies appear under 'Research Postings' in the Careers section of the Human Resources website and are open to both internal and external applicants.

Some other possible locations for ad placements include:

  • specific departments or faculties within the University
  • other universities
  • newspapers
  • professional journals
  • centres and journals for racial and cultural issues, special needs, etc.

Questions? Contact your HR Advisor for assistance with the wording and/or placement of your ad.

Return to Top

9.  Planning the Interview and Selection Process

Participation in the Selection Process

Ideally at least three people should be involved in selecting a candidate. Depending on individual circumstances, the number of people involved may range from one person (the Researcher) to a committee of several people.

Appropriate people to invite to participate in a selection process include:

  • colleagues who work on similar projects
  • other members of the research team
  • individuals who are knowledgeable about the position.

When a number of people are involved in the selection process, it is advisable to include men and women and, when possible, members from under-represented groups. At the request of the department, an HR Advisor may also sit on the selection team.

Selection Criteria and Process for Evaluating Candidates

Plan to review résumés and select candidates to be interviewed as soon as possible after the competition closing date.  Selection of candidates to be interviewed should be based on a pre-determined list of job-related selection criteria. The previously prepared Position Summary will list the skills and qualifications required to do the job. These criteria will also be the foundation for developing interview questions.

Preliminary telephone interviews for pre-screening purposes can be an effective and efficient means of determining which candidates will be selected to attend a full interview. Contact your HR Advisor if you would like assistance with pre-screening options.

Some examples of criteria which may, when appropriate to the position requirements, be used in the screening and interview process are:

  • Education
  • Relevant or equivalent work experience
  • Knowledge of the job
  • Technical skills and abilities
  • Financial knowledge and abilities
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Communication skills
  • Supervision and delegation experience
  • Management skills

As well, consideration should be given to arranging for candidate testing, when appropriate. Clerical positions, in particular, may benefit from computer software testing. For a nominal fee, Human Resources administers software testing of applicants.

To reiterate, plan to use criteria that are based on the requirements of the job as outlined in the Position Summary. These pre-determined criteria will facilitate the process of assessing and selecting candidates to be interviewed.

Determining Interview Location and Amenities

When planning the interview location and amenities, there are a number of important considerations. Ensure that the location is fully accessible, private and free of distractions, such as ringing phones and visible walk-by traffic.

Plan a minimum of 10-15 minutes between interviews to allow interviewers to catch up on any notes and prepare for the next candidate. Try not to conduct more than four or five interviews over the course of one working day.

When contacting individuals for interviews, ask the candidate whether they require accommodation for the interview or testing phases. A person who needs accommodation to take part in an interview is responsible for advising of this need in enough detail, and co-operating in consultations to enable the employer to respond to the request before the interview or testing. There is no set formula for accommodation. Each person's needs are unique and must be considered individually.  If you require assistance in determining how to meet a candidate’s request for accommodation need, contact your HR Advisor.

The University’s statement on accessibility is as follows: “Queen’s is committed to an inclusive campus community with accessible goods, services, and facilities that respect the dignity and independence of persons with disabilities. (Your document/event/service, etc.) is available in an accessible format or with appropriate communication supports upon request.” For further information, you may review the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.

The seating arrangements in the interview location should be comfortable and amenities convenient. For example, make sure that there is a place for the candidate to hang a coat. Supplying the candidate with a glass of water and paper for notes is also conducive to setting a positive interview climate.

Developing Interview Content and Questions

Ensure that interview questions relate to the position criteria, as described in the job overview.

Interview formats may range from a highly structured model to a more flexible arrangement. Typically, interviews should involve development of a list of questions, based on the position criteria that are asked of each of the candidates. These can be interspersed by probing questions to clarify and explore responses more deeply, as needed. See examples of some typical interview questions associated with specific selection criteria below.

The questions should be based on the job’s essential duties and bona fide requirements. Before interviews start, create an answer guide showing the desired answers and associated marking scheme. If a committee has been struck, discuss the possible answers with the other members to determine the preferred response. Each member of the interview panel should record and independently score each candidate’s answers against this guide, prior to group assessment of the candidates. This approach helps ensure candidates are assessed against an objective standard, minimizing bias and avoiding the subjective assessments that may leave the University vulnerable to claims of discrimination, if a human rights complaint were filed.

When developing the list of interview questions, ensure that each of the job criteria is addressed, so that the information necessary to determine qualifications for each of the job requirements is produced. As well, plan to ask candidates to elaborate on areas of their résumés and cover letters such as time gaps between jobs, overlaps, frequency of job changes, etc. When developing interview questions, plan to use open-ended questions. This will encourage communication and provide the applicant with the opportunity to present more information.

Sample Interview Questions

Skillful interviewing requires solid preparation and a systematic approach. This involves development, prior to the interview, of a set of well-planned, job-related questions. The following interview questions are intended as sample questions to assist hiring units in the development of their own specific questions for their particular employment interview.

When incorporating these and other interview questions into a selection process, plan to use questions that are based on job-related criteria and are founded on the skills and qualifications described in the specific Position Summary. Note that not all of the listed questions are relevant to every job nor is the list exhaustive. For advice on the process or on development of additional interview questions, contact your HR Advisor.

Many interviewers use the behavioral interview for hiring. This type of interview is based on the premise that the best way to predict a candidate's future performance is to examine his or her past and present performance. Here are some examples of questions designed to help the interviewer learn more about the interviewee and how they perform:

  • To find out if the candidate is an analytical/systematic thinker:
    "Tell me about a time when you had to analyze information and make a recommendation. What was your reasoning? What kind of thought process did you go through?
     
  • To find out if the candidate takes initiative:
    "Describe a situation in which you recognized a potential problem as an opportunity. What did you do?"
     
  • To find out if the candidate is results-oriented:
    "Describe one of the most challenging assignments you have had. How did you handle it? What problems did you encounter and how did you overcome them?"
     
  • To find out if the candidate has research/technical skills:
    "Tell me about a research project you completed in the past. Give me examples of how you would apply the skills used in that project to the requirements of this position?"
     
  • To find out if the candidate has coordinating abilities:
    "Describe your experience in coordinating the efforts of different organizational units or people. What sorts of problems did you encounter? How did you deal with them?"
     
  • To find out if the candidate is service-oriented:
    "Describe a time when you had to deal with an especially difficult customer situation. What did you do? How did you feel?"
     
  • To find out if the candidate has planning abilities:
    "Have you ever had to plan, implement and evaluate a project from start to finish? Could you describe it and your role? Would you do anything differently the next time?"
     
  • To find out if the candidate is a problem-solver:
    "Describe a situation in which you took immediate action when faced with an unforeseen emergency."
     
  • To find out if the candidate is a relationship-builder:
    "What, in your opinion, are the key ingredients in building and maintaining successful business relationships? Give me examples of how you have made these work for you."
     
  • To find out if the candidate has computing abilities:
    "What software packages do you use and how often do you use them? Describe your level of expertise with each of the packages and the tasks you complete with each."
     
  • To find out if the candidate has communication abilities:
    "Would you say that you are most effective in communicating face-to-face, by telephone, or in written form? Tell me about why you consider yourself to be most effective in this area and describe a situation that illustrates this."

Note:  Eliminating current section called ‘Prohibited Interview Questions’ 

Return to Top

10. Conducting the Interview

Hiring Tip
As a representative of the University, strive to provide all candidates with a favourable impression.

Once the applications have been reviewed and evaluated using the previously established list of job-related selection criteria, the selected candidates should be contacted and invited to an interview and, if appropriate, for practical testing. In addition to providing the location of the interview and the date and time, candidates should be advised of the name of the interviewer(s) and any information or material they will be required to bring to the interview. During this phase as well as the later interviewing phase of the process, it is important, as a representative of the University, to strive to create a favourable impression.

Hiring Tip
Prior to interviewing, review applications, résumés and other related material, noting areas requiring clarification.

Once interviews have been arranged with the selected candidates, review the job advertisement, the Position Summary and interviewees’ résumés, making note of any areas of concern that can be addressed in the interview. A review of the information in this Guide is also recommended.

Before commencing the interview, hiring managers should:

  • Be thoroughly familiar with the criteria being sought in the applicant
  • Understand how these criteria are both job-related and realistic
  • Clearly communicate the duties and responsibilities of this position to applicants and/or interview panel members, as required
  • Be prepared to provide additional relevant information about the job and the University to applicants

The interview is normally comprised of three main parts: the opening or rapport-building phase; the body of the interview and exchange-of-information phase; and the closure of the interview.

Opening the Interview

Hiring Tip
Take time at the opening of the interview to ensure that the candidate is comfortable.

If there is more than one interviewer, the chair of the selection committee should open the interview, introduce all members, and explain each member’s role. During the opening of the interview, take time to ensure that the candidate is made to feel at ease. Comfortable seating arrangements and amenities such as providing a glass of water will encourage the applicant's ease and promote an environment conducive to a fluent exchange of information. Good eye contact and offering verbal reinforcement when appropriate will also help establish a good rapport with the candidate.

Next, go over the interview format with the candidate. This way, the candidate will know what to expect.

  • Mention topics that will be covered and the approximate duration of the interview.
  • Explain that the candidate will have the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview.
  • Advise the candidate that some notes will be taken during the interview in order to ensure an effective evaluation.

Comprehensive notes from each member of the interview panel are particularly important when many candidates are being interviewed. Notes will serve as a key resource for making an objective assessment and achieving the goal of hiring the best candidate for the role. Notes are also crucial to defend a hiring decision which may later be challenged.

Exchanging Information

Hiring Tip
Ask open-ended questions that will encourage candidate communication.

The information exchange stage constitutes the bulk of the interview. During this time, the interviewer(s) will have the opportunity to ask the list of pre-determined questions to assess whether the candidate’s qualifications match the job requirements. A recording form should be used that lists each question, with space for each assessor to record the candidate’s response and their score.

Remember to ask the same pre-determined questions of all candidates. This will encourage an equal opportunity for each of the candidates.

After all questions have been presented and answered, provide the candidate with information not covered during the question period (work environment, overtime or travel required, normal working hours, etc.).

Candidates should then have the opportunity to ask questions. Keep in mind that a candidate’s questions may reflect their level of interest in the position. However, there may be other reasons for the candidate's lack of questions. For instance, it may be that the interviewee is nervous, or that their questions may have already been addressed.

Closing the Interview

Thank the candidate for attending. State approximately when the decision will be made, and stress to the candidate that they will be advised of the decision as soon as possible. If arrangements were previously made to administer practical testing, the applicant may then move to the pre-scheduled test at this point in the process.  Testing can be scheduled either before or after interviews. Testing should be arranged with the support of your HR Advisor.

Evaluating the Candidates

Hiring Tip
Use the pre-determined selection criteria to assess and determine the short list of candidates. Assess each candidate immediately after each interview.

Assess the candidates immediately after the interviews. This is particularly important when there have been a number of interviews. The previously established selection criteria should be the basis for assessing the candidate’s suitability for the position. The assessment should be completed independently by each panel member, prior to joint assessment of the group of candidates as a whole. The Interview Summary and Candidate Assessment Summary forms (above) can be used for documenting evaluation results.

Hiring Tip
Avoid making hasty judgments and jumping to conclusions.

Second interviews may be required for selected candidates in order to clarify some of the candidates' qualifications.

Return to Top

11. Conducting Reference Checks

Hiring Tip
Base reference-checking questions on the job-related criteria.

Information received through contacting the candidate's referees regarding past work-related experiences and qualifications, in combination with the information gathered during the interview, will be invaluable in making a good hiring decision. Appropriate references are normally work-related and include, but may not be limited to, current and/or previous supervisors.

The purpose of the reference-check is to verify the candidate's qualifications as they relate to the requirements of the vacant position. The reference-check interview resembles the employment interview in that the questions asked are based on pre-determined selection criteria taken from the Position Summary. Following a specific format and asking previously determined interview questions will help to ensure that the reference check covers all the important areas. See the Telephone Reference Form for an example of a suggested format and questions.

Reference Checking Tips

  • Always obtain permission from applicants to contact employers for references.
  • Reference checks should be conducted by someone who was present at the interview (i.e., the position supervisor).
  • References should be checked after completion of the interview process; they should address job-related requirements; any information that is not job-related should be disregarded.
  • Conduct all reference checks in a uniform and consistent manner.
  • Check with a minimum of two previous employers/supervisors. Contacting more than one referee will help to eliminate the possibility of either positive or negative bias. It will tend to provide a better balanced picture of the candidate’s work patterns and habits.
  • If an applicant is ultimately rejected because of an unfavourable reference, prepare documentation to support the job-related reason.
  • If information resulting from a reference check contradicts impressions or information obtained during the interview, give the individual an opportunity to refute or explain any information resulting from the reference check, particularly if the candidate has made it to the final stage of the competition.
  • If a candidate asks that the current employer not be contacted for references, advise that any job offer will be contingent upon a completion of a reference check with the current employer.

General Notes and Guidelines

  • Plan your call ahead of time. The sequence may not develop exactly as planned; be flexible.
  •  Ask open-ended questions where responses require explanation rather than yes or no answers.
  • Let the referee talk freely.
  • Take notes. Probe where more information would be useful.
  • Assure referee that your conversation is strictly confidential. If you sense hesitation, emphasize that you would really appreciate his/her comments.

Return to Top

12. Finalizing the Offer

The final phase of the recruitment involves the verbal offer of employment, preparation of the Employment contract, completing the hire in the HR PeopleSoft system, finalization of the written rationale for the selection, and notification to other interviewed candidates that another candidate has been offered and accepted the position.

Employment Offer (verbal)

When a suitable candidate for the position has been selected, a verbal offer of employment is made. The verbal offer serves only to confirm the expected start date and starting salary. The extent of any flexibility in the starting salary should be discussed between the HR Advisor and the Hiring Manager, prior to a verbal offer being made.

At this point the candidate may wish to discuss details of the appointment that were not addressed earlier in the process. For example, the candidate may have questions about benefits availability. Hiring Managers should indicate that these details will be clarified in the written offer.  The individual can also be directed to the Benefits Eligibility table, which provides detailed information. Generally, the HR Advisor is best suited to respond to benefit questions, once a written offer has been extended.

Once the Hiring Manager and the candidate agree on the start date and salary, this information is provided by the Hiring Manager to the HR Advisor, who will then prepare the employment contract and provide it in draft form to the Hiring Manager for review and confirmation prior to it being issued to the candidate.

Employment Contract (written)

Once the verbal offer is agreed, a written offer of employment is prepared. The Employment Contract, which is prepared by the HR Advisor and signed by the Hiring Manager, is presented to the successful candidate for signature, generally via email. The signed offer indicates acceptance of the terms of employment. Once signed, the Employment Contract is returned to the HR Advisor. For the contract of employment to be valid, the signed offer must be received by Human Resources prior to the start date. The HR Advisor will then provide confirmation to the Hiring Manager that the fully executed contract has been received in the Human Resources office.  The Hiring Manager can then contact their Departmental Administrator to arrange for the new employee to be hired in the HR PeopleSoft system (see section ‘After the Employment Contract is Signed’). 

The Employment Contract details the following information:

  • Nature and duties of the position, including any special conditions
  • Names of supervisors and those from whom direction may be given
  • Start date and duration of the contract (including continuing appointments as appropriate)
  • Full-time or part-time (with hours per week defined)
  • Probationary period (if the employee is new to the University) and the associated conditions
  • Level of position and starting salary
  • Information regarding enrolment in benefits
  • Required notice of end of employment

Return to Top

13. After the Employment Contract is signed

After the Employment Contract has been signed by both the Hiring Manager and the candidate, (see section ‘Finalizing the Offer’), contact your Departmental HR Administrator to initiate the electronic hire process in PeopleSoft. To enter the contract the Departmental HR Administrator will need:

  1. The position number in PeopleSoft
  2. A copy of the candidate’s resume
  3. The account code from which the salary will be paid
  4. The candidate’s hiring salary

If you don’t know who your Departmental HR Administrator is, contact Human Resources at hradmin@queensu.ca.

Return to Top

14. Approving Research Contracts in HR PeopleSoft

The written Employment Contract is the binding agreement between the individual and the University. In order to ensure the new employee is paid according to the terms as outlined in the Employment Contract, the details must be entered into the HR PeopleSoft system by the Departmental Administrator. Once entered, the contract will flow through three levels of electronic approval, including the Hiring Manager, the Department Head and the new employee.

Once the contract is entered into PeopleSoft by the Departmental HR Administrator the electronic approval process called workflow, begins.

There are three steps in the approval process:

  1. Department Head electronic approval
  2. PI electronic approval
  3. Candidate electronic approval

All steps in the approval process must be completed prior to payroll cut-off dates in order for the employee to be paid.

Remotely approving contracts

Contracts may be approved while on Queen's campus or off campus on a secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) or Remote Desk Top connection. Information on how to remotely access PeopleSoft.

Notifications of contracts pending approval

Department Heads, PIs and designates receive one email listing all contracts pending approval entered into PeopleSoft within the previous 24 hours.

Designating authority to approve contracts

Principal Investigators may delegate the approval of contracts in PeopleSoft by completing FIN-FRM-008 Account Signing Authority.

Department Heads may delegate the approval of Research Contracts in PeopleSoft by completing the HRMS Department Head Signing Delegation form.

Return to Top

15. Final Steps

Getting your new employee started

You play a critical role in helping ensure a new employee assimilates well into the team and the University environment and makes a successful transition to their new role. Please make use of the Hiring and Onboarding tools , and our comprehensive Orientation Toolkit , to assist you in planning for this key phase, creating a positive experience for your new employee and setting the stage for building an effective, professional employee/manager relationship.

Documentation of the Selection Process

Hiring Tip
Maintain notes about the process and the reasons for the final selection.

During each phase of the hiring and selection process, ensure a written record is maintained including a brief summary outlining the reasons for selecting the successful candidate and the reasons why others were disqualified.

Notifying Other Interviewed Candidates

Once the position has been offered to and accepted by a candidate, others who were interviewed should be notified that another has been offered and accepted the position. Candidates are normally advised by telephone of the decision.

Return to Top