I'm currently applying for one "entry-level" faculty position in the UK (CS). Differently from other applications I have seen, in this one they ask the applicant to address each of the items listed in a "Person Specification" section of the job description.

There are 15 points, ranging from simple yes/no questions ("Do you have a PhD?") to more elaborate ones ("Evidence of Teaching excellence"). I've addressed everything I can think of in my document so far. However it is quite long, 3.5 pages.

My question is: how long is a statement of this nature expected to be? There are no page limits that I have seen. Should I try to shorten it?

2 Answers 2


I would not refer to what you are writing as a statement. I would say it is a response. Responses should be as long as they need to be, but not longer.

If they have given you a person specification with 15 points, and ask you address every point, then, yes, your response is going to be long. There should be no need to guess on this. They have asked you to be thorough so you should be thorough.

While it is common for companies to use person specifications to ensure they find a proper match for a position it is rare for me to see someone use it in the manner you describe. However, it does not sound crazy, just like they want to really be sure that they are getting all the information they need, and they clearly want to be thorough. In the end, the goal of the person specification is to make sure you eliminate, as early as possible, those people who are very likely to be a poor match for the position/organization. If you can respond appropriately to each point, then you are much more likely to be called for an interview. So don't leave anything out that answers their questions.

  • 2
    +1 for Responses should be as long as they need to be, but not longer.
    – Nobody
    Jan 31, 2014 at 4:19
  • 1
    The UK is moving towards a system in which if you can't/don't respond appropriately to each point you will NOT get an interview.
    – StrongBad
    Jan 31, 2014 at 10:48
  • Thanks, I'll make sure my response is as concise as possible. Jan 31, 2014 at 16:08

In the UK, HR departments are playing an increasing larger role in the hiring process. According to HR departments only applicants that meet all the essential requirements can be considered. If you have an applicant who meets all but one essential requirement and all the desirable requirements and another applicant who meets all the essential requirements and none of the desirable requirements, you must hire the one that meets the essential requirements. If you want to modify the essential requirements and do the search again, you must demonstrate that none of the applicants meet all the essential requirements. You can only hire non-EU applicants if there are no EU applicants that meet all the essential requirements. Further, if any applicant from the redundancy pool can meet all the essential requirements with some additional training (usually under 6 months), then they must be hired over external applicants.

With this in mind, it is absolutely critical that your letter clear address how you meet all the essential requirements and which desirable requirements you meet. You want to provide anything that could be considered evidence to support your application. I would not worry about the statement being too long, although it should not address qualities that are not explicitly mentioned in the job description.

  • I think it should be okay.. What worries me a bit are the points dedicated to demonstrating "teaching excellence" or "ability to communicate complex ideas". As a lowly Post-Doc, I have just been a TA in the past. I never managed my own course. I don't know what they are expecting from new lecturers, but I guess many other applicants will be in my same situation. Jan 31, 2014 at 16:10

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