How your application is assessed

This guide shows candidates the criteria that we use to assess a job application.


When you apply for a role with COPFS, your application will be assessed against our competency-based selection process.

We recommend you read our Candidates guide to competency based selection prior to applying for a post.

Stages of your application

Scoring your application


We check applications against the essential criteria for the role. We also read the competency answers and score your application to determine if you are demonstrating the required behaviours for the competency.

Guaranteed interview scheme

COPFS is committed to valuing diversity and to equality of opportunity. Part of this commitment is that we guarantee an interview to any eligible candidate who has declared a disability as defined by the Equality Act 2010, provided that they meet the minimum criteria for the post in question. The essential minimum criteria is set out in the job advert and any supplementary recruitment documentation.


Competency Based Selection is based on the underlying principle that past behaviours are the best predictor of future behaviour. If a candidate can demonstrate how they have faced challenges and achieved success with similar issues in the past, they will be able to apply these to the challenges of the new job in the future.

All questions for candidates will be designed to test suitability based on the knowledge, skills and understanding of the candidate in relation to the requirements of the role and the competencies associated with the vacancy. The candidates should then provide specific examples to demonstrate how they have met the competencies required.

The COPFS contains further details on the interview assessment process. If you have any issues accessing these links, please contact to request copies of these.

Please be reminded that you can request your Sift outcome from 

Additional assessment tasks

The board may decide in advance of the interviews that they require further evidence to assess candidates for specialist or senior positions in the Service. Further assessment may include presentation on a relevant topic at interview, the submission of a piece of written work prior to the interview, or completion of an online assessment.


Once the board has interviewed all candidates and scored any additional assessment tasks, they will make their decision.

We are committed to getting back to you quickly to let you know if you have been successful at interview.

Standards we assess you by [Criteria]


The first stage of the pre sift process is checking whether applicants are eligible for appointment to the Civil Service. The HR Resource Team will check applications submitted to ensure they meet the following rules:

COPFS has exemptions from the conditions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and will not usually accept applications from external candidates who have previous convictions relating to violence, dishonesty or drugs.

COPFS must adhere to strict Civil Service Nationality rules – further details can be found on the Civil Service website.

Consideration will be given where candidates have a conflict of interest, secondary employment and any past or pending complaints by any professional body of which they are a member.

For all internal appointments the pre sift process includes checking whether applicants are eligible for application to specific posts. Again the HR Resource Team will check applications submitted to ensure they meet certain rules (see guide).

Applicants who do not meet the requisite eligibility criteria will be sifted out by the HR Resource Team before their applications can proceed to the formal sifting/interviewing stages.

Competency based selection (Civil Service competencies)

The Competency Framework details the levels for each Grade, a description for each competency, and what behaviours are expected at each level. Please ensure you refer to the Framework and understand the level and behaviours expected of the role advertised.

Candidates must also remember that the Competency Framework is not exhaustive and provides an indication of the general level of working. Your evidence should also take account of your skills, the job role and its accountabilities.

It may be useful to use the acronym “STAR” (Situation, Task, Actions, Result) when detailing your specific examples. The evidence you provide on the application will be probed further at interview.

  1. Competency framework


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Equality and diversity

We are proud to be Diversity Champions and continue our long term commitment to inclusion within our workplace, and celebrate the diversity of our employees, and the communities we work in.

As an employer, we provide equality of opportunity and will not tolerate discrimination on grounds of age, belief, disability, gender, gender identity, marital status, pregnancy and maternity, race, sex and sexual orientation – or any other grounds.

We make everyone feel welcome within the organisation by regularly reviewing and refreshing our policies to ensure we use all-inclusive language, and have a number of network groups within the company which include: Proud in COPFS; Equality Ambassadors and the Staff Disability Advisory Group.

For further information on the Civil Service’s diversity and inclusion policies, and how equality and diversity are monitored, please see here.

You can read about our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy online.

Our vacancies

Information on all current job vacancies and applications forms can be found on our job vacancy page.

Complete and submit a job application which takes account of our Competency Framework. (See Introduction above.)

Contact the designated recruiter in the advertisement for more information.

Our privacy policy

To learn about how we handle your information during the recruitment exercise, please see our privacy policy.

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