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How to apply

We know that applying for a new role can be daunting when you don’t know what to expect. To help, we've outlined the selection methods that we use in Scottish Government and how you can prepare for them.

Illustration of a sign saying vacancy

Step 1 -  Application

To apply for a post in Scottish Government, you will need to complete the online application process accessed via the advertisement listed for the role. This will involve uploading your CV and a personal statement. You should tailor your CV and personal statement to demonstrate your ability to meet the essential criteria on the job advert.

Please submit all of the documents listed so that the panel will have all the required information on which to assess your application against the criteria in the person specification.


Your CV should set out your career history, with key responsibilities and achievements. This should include any relevant self-taught/non-work-related experiences that are relevant to the role.


Personal statement

Your personal statement (also called a statement of suitability) should explain how you consider your personal skills, qualities and experience provide evidence of your suitability for the role, with particular reference to the essential criteria in the person specification. The word limit for your personal statement will be confirmed on the job advert, it is usually between 750 and 1,250 words.

Step 2 - Telephone interviews

The selection process may include a telephone interview if there is a high volume of applications for a vacancy. The recruiting manager will confirm if telephone interviews are being used.

There will normally be two interviewers, one will ask the questions whilst the other records your responses and the interview will usually last about 20 minutes. It gives you the opportunity to discuss your application by answering some further questions about the skills and experience you’ve detailed, the questions will be directly related to the role you are applying for. 

At the end of the interview there will be the chance for you to ask any questions you have about the role or the process.

Some tips to prepare for a telephone interview:

  1. Know when to expect the call and answer it in time, it may come from a withheld number or a number you don’t recognise.
  1. Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed or distracted for the duration of the interview.
  1. If you’re using a mobile phone, ensure you have good signal cover.
  1. Review the job advert and essential criteria for the role so you know what the questions are likely to cover.
  1. Have your CV and personal statement to hand so you can refer to them if necessary.

Tips during the interview:

  1. Interviewers want you to do well so try and relax.
  1. Listen to the questions asked.
  1. Ask for clarification if you’re not sure what is being asked or ask for a question to be repeated if you didn’t catch it.
  1. Take your time. It’s perfectly acceptable to take a moment or two to collect your thoughts.

Step 3 - Technical assessments

If you successfully pass the CV & personal statement sift (and telephone interview, if applicable), you will be invited to a technical assessment which has been specifically designed for the role you are applying for. The assessment may be in the form of a prepared presentation, an analysis exercise, or a role specific in-tray type exercise. You will be given full details of what you need to prepare for by the recruiting manager.

The assessment gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your technical and functional knowledge against the skills needed in the role. The specific skills that you will be tested against are detailed on the Digital, Data and Technology Profession Capability Framework or the Cyber security and information assurance career pathway. The technical assessment may have a weighting applied against the competency based interview, effectively meaning there is more importance attached to the technical assessment in the final scoring.  You will be informed if a weighting is being applied before the start of the technical assessment.

The exercise will not ask you specific questions about each skill in turn, but will provide you with an opportunity to show evidence of your ability against them. The exercise will be about a subject or topic that is relevant to the role. It is designed so that you do not need to have existing knowledge of the organisation, team, or programmes the role will be based in.

If you are unsure which Digital, Data, and Technology (DDaT) role you are being tested against please contact the recruiting manager to confirm.

Step 4 - Competency-based interviews

Following the technical assessment you will complete a competency-based interview which is usually on the same day or part of the same interview session. The competencies you will be asked about are noted below.

The Scottish Government use Skills for Success that supports career planning and skills development. It also supports the SG People Strategy to have the right skills at the right time by underpinning our recruitment and performance management systems. 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. 

You should quantify all of your examples using the STARR approach:

  • 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

Interviewers will take notes throughout the interview to evidence the information you’ve provided and they will usually take it in turns to ask questions about each competency.

At the end of the interview there will be the chance for you to ask any questions you have about the role or the process.

Common competency-based interview questions may 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


Preparation for the interview:

  • research the requirements of the advertised post (business area website a good starting point) and be clear how to match your skills, experience and knowledge to it
  • Ideally, aim to have more than one example for each competency.
  • 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.


During the interview

  • Interviewers want you to do well so try and relax.
  • Listen to the questions asked.
  • Ask for clarification if you’re not sure what is being asked or ask for a question to be repeated if you didn’t catch it.
  • Take your time. It’s perfectly acceptable to take a moment or two to collect your thoughts.

We want you to be able to participate fully in all recruitment and selection processes we use.

If you require any adjustments to allow you to participate please contact the recruiting manager as soon as you can to discuss your needs.


Examples of what we can provide include;

  • Additional time to complete an exercise
  • Breaks during or in between assessments and interviews
  • Documents provided in an accessible format (e.g. Braille or large print)
  • Live captioning for video interviews
  • Providing a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter for interviews


We will do our best to handle requests at short notice, but it may not be possible to accommodate some requests without advance notice. Please get in touch by emailing us on

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