In this section, you'll find information about our application process, including how to apply and prepare for an interview.
Essential Criteria is the first assessment within the application process. These are skills that are important to the role.
The Essential Criteria have been tailored to the specific job role advertised and should be evidenced using a STAR(R) approach.
The STAR(R) Approach
During the application process you will be asked to provide specific evidence based examples to demonstrate how you meet the criteria. Please ensure that provide specific evidence – you may wish to follow to STARR format (Situation, Task, Action, Result, and Reflection).
- Situation – give a brief outline of the context.
- Task – What did you want to achieve? What were your aims / objectives?
- Action – What did you personally do?
- Result – What was the result?
- Reflection - Do you have reflections on the event? How have you applied this learning since? What would you do differently next time?
Tips when writing your examples
Consider these questions when deciding on an example:
- what was the situation and what were you trying to achieve
- what were the main issues
- what did you do to improve the situation
- how did you implement changes
- who was affected
- what was the outcome
- what did you learn
Essential Criteria scoring
- 0 – Does not meet the skills, knowledge and experience required
- 1 – Meets the skills, knowledge and experience required
- 2 – Exceeds the skills, knowledge and experience required
If you meet the essential criteria you will be invited to take part in an assessment and a competency based interview.
A company called Capita carry out the assessment process using a Zoom-based application called Launchpad. You can you use a laptop or a tablet to complete the assessment. There are three types of assessment:
- role stimulation
The Scottish Government uses Skills for Success Competency Framework that supports career planning and skills development. It sets out what is fundamental to success in the Scottish Government from Band A to the Senior Civil Service. The competency framework identifies a set of Core Skills that everyone should have and be able to demonstrate whatever job they are doing.
Competency-based interview questions aim to find out how you have used specific skills in your previous experience and how you approach problems, tasks and challenges. The questions will focus on:
- what you did
- why you chose to act the way you did
- what was the end result
- how this impacted on others
- reflection – what they learned from their actions
Interviewers will take notes throughout the interview, to record both positive and negative evidence that they gather from your answers. Interviewers will usually take it in turns to ask questions about your relevant experience of each competency.
Common competency-based interview questions include:
- tell us about a challenge you've encountered when working as part of a team and how you overcame it
- tell us about a time when you've had to work to tight deadlines
- tell us about a resources problem you've had to solve in your work and what was the result
- describe a situation you've experienced in which your ability to communicate well was vital
- what is your experience of having to adapt to changes in work methods and practices
To prepare for an interview you should:
- fully research the needs of the advertised post (business area website a good starting point) and be clear how to match your skills, experience and knowledge to it
- identify key achievements and quantifiable results to link to each Skills for Success/ professional or specialist competency
- review your Skills for Success profile
For each competency, you should prepare answers that provide evidence of your level of:
Ideally, aim to have more than one example for each competency. You should quantify all of your examples, to explain:
- the situation and task
- the action you took
- what you achieved, and how you achieved it
- how the organisation benefited
- reflection – what did you learn from the situation
Think also about a time when things didn't go as well and what you learnt from the experience. Be ready for follow-up questions to each of your answers.
Tips to optimise your interview performance
- check audio and camera
- close down unused applications
- have water handy
- check the temperature and lighting
- check your background
- be fully prepared and confident – know your examples
- give yourself some clear thinking time prior to the interview
- sit up straight
- look at the camera
- have your notes ready – avoid reading directly from notes, the should just be a prompt
The panel will discuss and combine scores for candidates. We score the interview (and assessment if applicable) as follows:
- 1 = Negative evidence
- 2 = Poor evidence
- 3 = Some evidence
- 4 = Acceptable evidence
- 5 = Strong evidence
You should usually hear the result within 2 week. One of 3 outcomes are:
- Reserved for Post