European Data Protection Supervisor
European Data Protection Supervisor

Selection and recruitment of staff

Selection and recruitment of staff

What you should know about procedures on the selection and recruitment of staff

Selection procedures are a necessary part of the recruitment process to select staff for specific jobs according to specific criteria. Both selection and recruitment procedures involve the collection and processing of personal information (also known as personal data). For example, in a selection procedure, this might include CVs (including diplomas, professional experience), evaluation tests and reports. For recruitment purposes, medical aptitude certificates (which are sensitive data), criminal records, family situation, any disability requiring special arrangements of the workplace, and so on are likely to be collected and processed.


What are the main data protection issues?

Data quality - It is important not to process more personal data than necessary. How? By only collecting information relevant to the selection criteria and not more information than necessary when drafting the application form. For example, questions about the reasons for leaving a previous job are not necessary to recruit someone. Questions about whether someone has ever been convicted of a crime should be avoided since a candidate may feel obliged to reveal information that is not necessary for recruitment. If it is a legal requirement (for instance, for particular types of posts) such a question should be replaced by a request for information about a current criminal record or a similar document. Organisations must be careful when analysing these documents so that only the required data are processed.

Right of information - Applicants must be informed about their rights and for what purposes their information is processed both before the selection procedure starts (i.e. before they apply) and when they are recruited.

Right of access - Applicants should be allowed access to information and results relating to them from all steps of the selection procedure. Exceptions may apply of course, for example, comparative information that includes other candidates as well as reports reflecting the individual opinions of the Selection Committee members. Even in such cases, however, applicants should be provided with aggregated results.

Retention period - Organisations must often keep personal information on file for certain purposes. However, it is against the law to keep such information indefinitely. The files containing information about unsuccessful candidates should not be kept as long as the files of the successful ones. In addition, information that is simply a condition for recruitment should not be kept once the recruitment has taken place. For example, there is no justification to keep criminal records, as they are snapshots in a person's life which may no longer reflect the reality.


More information

The following non-exhaustive list is a selection of documents for further reading:

EDPS Guidelines:

EDPS Guidelines concerning the processing operations in the field of staff recruitment

EDPS prior-check Opinions:

EDPS Opinion on selection and recruitment of contract and temporary agent, seconded Commission officials, interim staff, internal recruitment, administration of spontaneous applications at REA (cases 2012-0057-0061, 0063, 0065 and 0066-0067)

EDPS Opinion on Staff recruitment procedures at certain EU agencies (case 2009-0287)


Related topics:

Criminal records
Health-related data
Evaluation of staff