Western Carolina University


for Positions Subject to the State Personnel Act (SPA)


The purpose of the University's Merit-Based Recruitment and Selection Plan is to ensure that vacancies are filled from among the most qualified applicants. Western Carolina University will give equal employment opportunity to all applicants, without regard to race, religion, color, creed, national origin, sex, age, disability or political affiliation/influence. Recruitment and selection will be based solely on job-related criteria. The recruitment and selection process will be consistently applied and promote fairness, diversity and integrity. The process will comply with all Federal and State laws, regulations and policies.


The Director of Human Resources and all University officers who make hiring decisions are responsible for ensuring that hiring practices are applied consistently and equitably, thereby demonstrating commitment to and support of the merit-based recruitment/selection plan.

The Director of Human Resources and senior management will ensure that the recruitment and selection process complies with all applicable state and federal laws, policies, and regulations governing personnel actions. Proactive efforts will be made to recruit qualified individuals including minorities, women and persons with disabilities for applicant pools.

Ethics Statement

Knowledge, skills and abilities will be the basis for University hiring decisions. In order to assure the integrity of state government, each employee has a responsibility to view public service as a public trust and to act impartially. Preferential treatment will not be given to any private organization or individual based on political affiliation or influence.


Western Carolina University will communicate this merit-based recruitment/selection plan to employees, applicants and the general public. Written statements and oral information sessions will be provided. The Office of Human Resources will be identified as a source of further information. In addition, Western Carolina University will include the plan in the University's policy manual, and post it on the University's job vacancy web page.


Human Resources staff will provide merit-based recruitment and selection training to managers and supervisors on a scheduled basis. Updates and revisions to the plan will be communicated in written form and in subsequent training sessions.

Role Definitions/

I. Supervisors at all organizational levels are responsible for providing leadership in development and implementation of merit-based procedures and demonstrating commitment to and support for merit?based recruitment and selection. 

2. Managers and supervisors must evaluate the need for filling each vacant position; maintain accurate and current position descriptions for subordinate jobs; understand the concepts of the merit?based system and communicate the process to employees and applicants. They must try to achieve and maintain a diverse workforce; make all hiring decisions based on merit principles; and document selection decisions.

3. The Office of Human Resources is responsible for ensuring consistency in the administration of merit-based recruitment and selection in daily operations; providing technical advice and assistance to managers and supervisors; developing university-specific policies and procedures for merit-based actions; providing training related to merit-based recruitment and selection; monitoring recruitment and selection activities for adherence to merit-based policies and procedures; and maintaining recruitment and selection data to support employment trend analysis. Individuals with responsibilities which include human resource functions may also provide assistance and guidance to managers and supervisors. For the purposes of this plan, such individuals will be considered a part of the Human Resources staff.


Western Carolina University will recruit from a variety of sources to seek a diverse and effective workforce.

The hiring supervisor, with assistance and guidance from the Human Resources staff, will 

 1. assess the need for the position to ensure it contributes to meeting the goals, objectives and mission of the work unit; 
 2. review the duties, responsibilities and qualifications of the position; and 
 3. revise the position description if necessary.

A job study  must be conducted if significant change in the duties and responsibilities affects the qualifications required. If the existing job description is current and accurate, a position study is not necessary.

The hiring supervisor and Human Resources staff must identify the critical tasks, knowledge, skills, abilities, and training or experience requirements, including any selective criteria, that are necessary to successfully perform the duties of the position. Generic class specifications of needed knowledge, skills, and experience may be utilized for recruitment and selection purposes if they are sufficient for differentiating qualifications of applicants.

The position description will guide the hiring supervisor in drafting the vacancy announcement. Human Resources staff will review the vacancy announcement to ensure that requirements of State and University policy are met.

The hiring supervisor and Human Resources staff will determine appropriate option(s) for posting and advertising the vacancy. In addition, Human Resources staff will consult with the supervisor to identify additional  recruitment sources, if needed, to target specific audiences.

Prior to the vacancy closing date, the supervisor will determine any selection tool(s) that may be used in the final evaluation process. Any selection tool(s) utilized must be objective, based upon job?related knowledge, skills, and abilities, and consistently applied to all applicants in the final selection pool. Human Resources staff have responsibility to review and approve selection tools and procedures and should be consulted for assistance related to them. Some examples of selection tools include structured interviews, in-basket exercises, written tests, skills tests, and reference checks.

Selection Process

A. Definitions

1) Selective Criteria - additional  minimum qualifications specifically related to the duties and responsibilities of the individual position.

2) Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

* knowledge - information which makes adequate performance on the job possible; 
* skill - a proficiency that is readily observable, quantifiable, and measurable, (examples include skill in typing; skill in operating a vehicle); and 
* ability - capacity to perform an activity at the present time.

3) Preferences - specific types of experiences, degrees, licenses, knowledge, skills, and abilities or other selection factors above those minimally  required to perform the duties and responsibilities of a position.

4) Minimum qualifications - minimum training and experience requirements including knowledge, skills, abilities and selective criteria included in the vacancy announcement.

5) Qualified - those applicants whose credentials indicate the possession of training and experience, selective criteria, and knowledge, skills, and abilities included in the vacancy announcement.

6) Most Qualified - the group of applicants who, to the greatest extent, possess qualifications which exceed the minimum requirements described in the vacancy announcement.

B. Differentiating Qualified and Most Qualified Applicants

1) Determining Qualified Applicants: Applications are submitted to the Office of Human Resources. A designated HR staff member will screen all applications to determine which applicants meet  minimum qualification requirements including any selective criteria. If the quality of applications forwarded is deemed insufficient, the supervisor may choose to readvertise the position.

2) Determining Most Qualified Applicants: A second level of evaluation will be conducted by designated HR staff to determine those applicants that exceed the minimum qualifications. Applications are separated according to those that meet minimum qualifications and those that clearly exceed minimum qualifications. Those clearly exceeding  minimum qualifications comprise the pool to be considered for selection. Screening must be based on the job?related qualifications identified in the vacancy announcement. Applications are referred to the supervisor in alphabetical order.

If no applicants clearly exceed the minimum qualifications, those  meeting  minimum qualifications become the pool of most qualified applicants, or the vacancy may be readvertised.


Human Resources staff will review the initial applicant pool to identify any applicants entitled to priority status afforded by State policy. The hiring supervisor will receive advice and guidance from the Human Resources staff regarding any priority consideration which must be afforded.

Priority consideration must be given to applicants who meet the following criteria:

Priority Reemployment Employees scheduled to be separated or separated through reduction-in-force have priority consideration over applicants who are not state-employed. RIF candidates must only meet minimum qualifications to receive priority.
Exempt Policy-Making/Confidential & Exempt Managerial  Employees separated from exempt policy making/confidential and exempt managerial positions for reasons other than just cause have priority consideration over applicants who are not state-employed; they must only meet minimum qualifications to receive priority.
Veteran's Preference  Preference is to be given in initial employment opportunities to qualified veteran applicants.
Promotional Priority  Career state employees are eligible for priority consideration over applicants who are not state-employed if the individuals possess substantially equal qualifications.
Injured-on-the-Job/Workers' Compensation Employees injured on-the-job, placed on workers' compensation leave, and who have been released to return to work by their physician have re-employment considerations based upon  maximum  medical improvement.

Making the  
Final Selection  

The final selection recommendation will be made from among the most qualified applicants. Applicants eligible for priority re-employment must also be given appropriate consideration. The hiring supervisor  must use selection tools that are objective and based upon job-related knowledge, skills, and abilities. Selection tools must be consistently applied to all applicants in the final pool. The supervisor is also responsible for documenting the selection process and justifying the hiring recommendation. Human Resources staff are available to guide and assist the supervisor at any time during the selection process. Human Resources staff will review the applicant package to ensure employment/re-employment priorities are properly afforded. Applicants not selected for the position will receive timely written  notice from the hiring department.

Approval Process

The hiring department will submit its recommendation to the Office of Human Resources. A  Human Resources staff member will review the supporting documentation and compare the recommended candidate with applicants eligible for priority consideration to ensure that the recommended candidate is the most qualified according to the advertised requirements of the position. The Human Resources staff member will notify the hiring department if an offer can be made to the recommended candidate.

of Process

Western Carolina University will maintain documentation of its merit?based recruitment and selection activities in order to support the hiring decisions and to provide fact?based information for monitoring and evaluating recruitment and selection practices.

A file will be maintained for each hiring for a minimum of three years. Each file will contain:

* any record of a job study conducted prior to the vacancy posting, including any additional  knowledge, skills, and abilities; and/or selective criteria that resulted from the job study;  
* vacancy announcement;  
* recruitment sources; 
* selection tools and criteria; 
* applications received;  
* priority re-employment inventory/register;  
* selection/decision log; 
* inventory of applicants determined to be unqualified, qualified and most qualified; and  
* recruitment and selection checklist.

Appeals Process

If an applicant has reason to believe he/she was denied employment due  to political affiliation or influence, the applicant may appeal the hiring decision directly to the Office of Administrative Hearings within 30 days of written  notification  that the position  has been  filled if all of the following conditions apply:

* applicant timely applied for the position in question;  
* applicant was not hired into the position;  
* applicant was among the most qualified persons applying for the position;  
* successful applicant for the position was not among the most qualified persons applying for the position; and  
* hiring decision was based upon political affiliation or political influence.


Human Resources staff will periodically review program recruitment and selection data across the University to ensure that activities are in compliance with the plan. Human Resources staff will complete an annual summary of selection activity for the Chancellor. This report will include analysis of the impact on demographic groups, exceptions to policy and other relevant factors. Human Resources staff will also comply with requirements of the Office of State Human Resources for updating the plan and reporting.

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