Using the Civil Service Jobs website as a candidate

Guidance and advice for candidates using the Civil Service Jobs website.

Civil Service Jobs is the recruitment site for the Civil Service. You can also explore careers across the Civil Service.

If you have a problem that can’t be fixed by this advice, technical support is available. You will receive a reply within 2 working days.

Your Civil Service Jobs account

Civil Servant account

When creating an account as a civil servant:

  • only enter your work email address if you have access to it as this is used to verify your account
  • enter your line manager’s email address as they must verify your account if you don’t have access to your work email address
  • your work email and line manager’s email extensions must match the organisation you work for

Closing your account

You can close your account from your Account details page. If you close your account:

  • all job applications in progress will be withdrawn and cannot be retrieved
  • you won’t be able to access your application history
  • you won’t receive job alert emails
  • you won’t be able to login or access your details

You may want to keep a copy of your previous applications, as once your account is closed you’ll no longer be able to access this information.

If you are unable to close your own account, you can email and request that we close it for you. We’ll send you a confirmation email once your account is closed.

Resetting your password

If you’ve forgotten your password or would like to change your password select the Forgotten your password link on the sign in page of the website:

  • enter the email address (username) you registered with, or the one you use to sign into the website
  • select Reset password

We’ll email you instructions on how to change your password. This can take up to 15 minutes to arrive. The email will be sent to the account associated with the address you provided.

If you requested a password reset, and haven’t received it:

  • check your junk or spam folder
  • you may have used a different email address when you registered for your account. If you have another email address try entering this into the Password reset page instead
  • you may not have an account with the website

If you’re still having problems, technical support is available. You’ll receive a reply within 2 working days.

Changing your details

To change your details, you’ll need to sign in to your account:

  • select Account details on the main navigation menu
  • change your details
  • check the “I agree to the terms and conditions” box
  • select Save

If you started an application before you changed your details, your new details may not be included. You can edit the application before you submit it.

If you start an application for another job, your new details will be used.

Unable to access a job

If you’re a civil servant or an employee of a public body but can’t access all jobs, this may be because you:

  • are not signed in
  • did not select “yes” to the question “Are you a civil servant or an employee of a public body?” when creating your account
  • did not select the organisation you work for. If your organisation isn’t listed you can’t register as a civil servant or an employee of a public body
  • have not activated your account

The account activation reminder will continue to appear on your job search page until you click the link in the activation email to activate your account.

If you still can’t access jobs you should sign into your account:

  • select Account details on the main navigation menu
  • select “yes” to the question “Are you a civil servant or an employee of a public body?”
  • select the organisation you work for. If your organisation isn’t listed you can’t register as a * civil servant or an employee of a public body
  • enter your work email address if you have access to it, to verify your account
  • enter your line manager’s email address
  • check the “I agree to the terms and conditions” box
  • Save

If you’re no longer a civil servant follow the steps above but select “No” to the question “Are you a civil servant or an employee of a public body?”

Emailing your line manager

If you’re unable to access your work email address, leave the work email address field blank on the account form. We’ll email your line manager to ask that they validate your account, giving you access to internal job opportunities.

Why we deactivate your account

All civil servants and members of public bodies are asked to re-activate their account at 6 monthly intervals.

To re-activate your account, sign in and select the Send email button. An activation email is sent to you at work with an activation link. You must click this link to activate your account. Alternatively, you can copy and paste the link into your internet browser.

You won’t be able to see all vacancies that you’re eligible to apply for if your account is inactive but you will still be able to sign in and make updates to your account.

If you don’t have access to your work email you can send your activation email to your line manager instead. This is useful if you’re on leave or seconded to another organisation.

To send your activation email to your line manager:

  • select Account details on the main navigation menu
  • remove your work email address
  • check the “I agree to the terms and conditions” box
  • select Save

This will send the activation email to your line manager, who can activate your account on your behalf.

You’ll still receive all other emails to your sign in email address, including job alerts, password resets and emails about your applications.

Job alerts

Create a job alert email

Registering for job alerts will keep you updated on our latest vacancies as soon as they are posted to the website:

  • select Job alerts on the main navigation menu
  • select create email alerts
  • add one or more of the options to define the job alert
  • select Create alert
  • select Edit to make changes to your job alert then Update alert

Civil Service Jobs will email you with any new matches to your search criteria.

You may receive your first alert email in 24 hours.

Pause, restart or remove job alerts

To pause, restart or remove your alerts you should sign in to your account. Once you’ve signed in:

  • select Job alerts on the main navigation menu
  • to temporarily stop your alerts use Pause
  • to restart your alerts use Turn on
  • to remove your alerts use Delete
  • to carry out a search based on your job alert select Search

Applying for a job

To complete and submit your application form

If the organisation you’re applying to uses our full application system you can complete and submit your application through the website.

If an organisation doesn’t use the full system you can apply by:

  • selecting Apply at advertiser’s site which will take you to a different website
  • sending your application form to an email address specified in the job advert

Finding your partially completed application form

To find your form, sign in to your account and select Applications.

Submitting your application

Once you submit your application you can’t amend it, or apply more than once.

If your contact email address changes after you submit, you can update this in your ‘Account details’ page. The address will automatically update in all applications you have submitted through the site.

If you have a question about your application, contact the recruiting organisation or the point of contact in the job advert.

Tracking your application

You can track your application through Civil Service Jobs if it was completed on the site.

Any applications you made using the “Apply at advertiser’s site” process or emailed directly to an address specified in the advert are not included.

Once you’ve signed in:

  • select Applications on the main navigation menu
  • select the job to view more details about your application.

If you have a question about your application, contact the recruiting organisation or the point of contact in the job advert.

Withdrawing your application

You can only withdraw your application through the website if the organisation you applied to uses our full application system. Otherwise you should contact the recruitment team of the relevant organisation or the point of contact in the job advert.

If you’re no longer interested in a job that you’ve applied for you should withdraw your application.

Once you withdraw your application you can’t resubmit it at a later date, or re-apply for the same job.

You’ll be notified that your application has successfully been withdrawn.

Your job history

You should enter your most current employment details first. You should cover a period of at least the last 3 years, and you can enter up to a total of 8 previous jobs. You must provide details of any gaps in your job history.

Uploading documents

You should only upload a document if the application form clearly asks you to:

  • a CV in section Upload CV
  • an additional attachment in section Additional attachment. You’ll be told what the additional attachment should be

You can only upload one file in each section you can see. You can replace it by following the instructions in the relevant section of your application.

If you can’t upload your document, check that it isn’t password protected.

Reasonable adjustment

If a person with disabilities is put at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person, we have a duty to make reasonable changes to our processes.

If you need a change to be made so that you can make your application, you should:

  • approach the point of contact in the job advert as soon as possible before the closing date to discuss your needs
  • complete the assistance required or reasonable adjustment section of your application form to tell us what changes or help you might need further on in the recruitment process. For instance, you may need wheelchair access at interview, or if you’re deaf, a Language Service Professional

Disability Confident interview scheme

The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities. We run a Disability Confident interview scheme for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria for the job.

To be considered for an interview you must:

  • have a disability defined by the Equality Act 2010
  • provide evidence in your application that you meet the minimum criteria in the job description
  • meet all of the qualifications, skills or experience defined as essential.

The application form will ask if you want to apply under the Disability Confident scheme, or guidance will be in the job advert.

At the interview, you will be given the opportunity to demonstrate your abilities and you will be marked solely on merit.

Success Profiles

Success Profiles enable a fairer and more inclusive method of recruitment by enabling assessment of the range of experiences, abilities, strengths, behaviours and technical/professional skills required for different roles. This flexible approach to recruitment focuses more on finding the right candidate for the specific role.

Success Profiles use a wider range of elements than the previous Competency Framework. The Competency Framework became the shorter, clearer Civil Service Behaviours. Behaviours become 1 of 5 recruitment elements available within the Success Profiles. The others are: Strengths, Ability, Experience and Technical Skills.

Online tests

We may want to assess your aptitude or potential to perform to the required standard. This may be done by using online psychometric tests alongside assessment of other elements from the Success Profiles, to help decide whether you have the required capabilities to meet the needs of a job at a particular grade.

Our tests

There are 3 commonly used tests:

  • Civil Service Verbal Test
  • Civil Service Numerical Test
  • Civil Service Judgement Test

You may be asked to complete one or more of these tests. We’ll say whether this is the case on the job advert.

No specialist knowledge or experience is needed for any of the tests.

If you’re invited to take a test, please visit our online tests guidance for full details about each test.

Results and feedback

Sift assessment

A sift is an assessment of your behaviour examples or CV and other criteria to determine whether they are sufficient to merit you being called to interview.

The sift panel read the example(s) you provide and then rate it before agreeing on a final score. Rating scales can vary across recruiting organisations but the standard is the same.

Some organisations carry out the initial sift using a lead criteria, but this should be mentioned in the advert.

Feedback is generally not available at the initial sift stage, but recruiting organisations may provide comments in line with the Civil Service rating scale.

A sift panel will agree the standards used to assess each application to determine who has the strongest example(s). You may find that on occasions you are sifted in or sifted out with the same example. This happens because each vacancy is a separate competition.

Timescales for completing a sift can vary.

Civil Service rating scale

A significant number of organisations use this rating scale for recruitment.

Rating Label Definition
1 Not Demonstrated No positive evidence
2 Minimal Demonstration Limited positive evidence
3 Moderate Demonstration Moderate positive evidence
4 Acceptable Demonstration Adequate positive evidence
5 Good Demonstration Substantial positive evidence
6 Strong Demonstration Substantial, positive evidence and includes some evidence of exceeding expectations
7 Outstanding Demonstration Evidence provided wholly exceeds expectation at this level

Generally to progress to the next stage a candidate should score at least 4 for each example.

Your interview

You’ll receive an email explaining how to agree an interview slot.

Your interview can last between 30 to 60 minutes. Interviews are based around the criteria set out in the advert and job description and may include questions to understand more about your behaviours, strengths, experience, or technical skills. The purpose of the interview is to:

  • test your suitability against the needs of the role
  • give you an opportunity to present your evidence and express your views.

A good interview requires preparation, good listening skills and the ability to answer the question that is asked. Practice before the interview by preparing and rehearsing answers to possible questions. Be prepared to give examples of how you meet the criteria.You can use the same examples you wrote about in your application or new ones if they are a better answer to the question asked.

You may also be asked to prepare a presentation on a given subject area, this will be provided to you in advance of the interview.

This is your chance to see if the role and the recruiting organisation are right for you.

Our pre-appointment checks

If you have been successful you’ll receive a provisional offer of employment, pending satisfactory completion of all pre-appointment checks as specified in the advert.

All non-civil servants will need to undergo a security check as part of pre-employment checks. Some organisations will require more detailed vetting, even if you are an existing civil servant. Further information about the different types of security checks is available.

Before a formal offer of employment can be made or a start date agreed all pre-appointment checks must be satisfactorily completed. These checks can take several weeks. If you are in employment don’t hand in your notice until a formal job offer is made.

If the organisation you applied to does not subscribe to our full application system you won’t be able to see your formal offer of employment in the Civil Service Jobs site.

Probationary period

The purpose of a probationary period is to give newly recruited employees the opportunity to show their suitability - in terms of conduct, performance and attendance. Any period of probation shouldn’t usually exceed 2 years.

Civil Service recruitment


There are three approaches to advertising Civil Service vacancies:

  • external jobs which are available for everyone to view
  • across government jobs which can be viewed by all Civil Service employees
  • internal jobs advertised within a department or within a group of closely linked departments

Grades and types of work in the Civil Service

As a guide, these are examples of the type of work different grades within the Civil Service can expect to perform but these will vary within an organisation.

  • Administrators (sometimes known as Administrative Officers/Assistants AO/AA) form the majority of the Civil Service doing various jobs, such as helping the public, supporting senior colleagues or staffing call-centres
  • Junior Manager (known as Executive Officer EO) are the most junior management grade with responsibility in a department
  • Middle Manager (sometimes known as Senior/Higher Executive Officers SEO/HEO) can be a senior member of a policy team or in an agency may have considerable management responsibilities in a programme
  • Senior Manager (also known as Grade 7/6s) may lead a small team responsible for an aspect of policy or in an agency may manage an aspect of a programme or a geographical area

All senior civil service (SCS) grades (known as SCS 1 / Deputy Director; SCS 2 / Director; SCS 3 / Director General; or SCS 4) are administered by the Cabinet Office. Their responsibilities vary and are at the discretion of the organisation they work for.

The grading structure within the Civil Service varies as each organisation may have its own grading structure.

Examples of Behaviours

You may be asked to provide examples during your application. We will tell you if this is the case on our job adverts.

If the job you are applying for asks for examples of behaviours, refer to Success Profiles guides.

The online application form will automatically delete any words which exceed the 250 allowed for each example.

Fixed term appointments

Employees are on a fixed-term contract if both of the following apply:

  • they have an employment contract with the organisation they work for
  • their contract ends on a particular date, or on completion of a specific task, eg a project

All fixed term appointments should be recruited “on merit on the basis of fair and open competition” in line with the Civil Service Commission’s Recruitment Principles.


Complaints can often be settled by contacting the person or team you’ve been dealing with directly. This is likely to be the fastest way for us to support you. If you are still having trouble then you can register a complaint about our services by contacting

Please include:

  • details of the person you have contacted and any reference number
  • your contact details and a clear description of the issue

Technical support

If you are experiencing problems that can’t be resolved by our help and advice, then technical support is available. You will receive a reply in 2 working days.

Contact information

If you have a recruitment question beyond our help and advice, you can email the relevant organisation or see the point of contact in the job advert.

Other organisations

You should check the job advert for the point of contact information. A number of organisations also provide contact details on their websites.

Published 22 July 2015
Last updated 18 February 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated section for online tests, as information has moved to

  2. Updated to reflect changes to the application system, including banked scores and locating applications.

  3. Updated to include details of Success Profiles.

  4. References to Civil Service Initial Sift Test removed, following withdrawal of the test.

  5. Introducing changes following the implementation of the Civil Service Recruitment Framework

  6. First published.