Frequently Asked Questions - Information for Job Applicants

Application process:
How do I find out about the responsibilities and requirements for the job?
How do I complete the Application Form ?
What needs to be on my CV?
What should I include as Supporting Evidence?
How far back should I go in detailing my employment history?
What qualifications should I include in my application?
What is the Guaranteed Interview Scheme?
What references do I need to provide?
When will my referees be contacted?
Do I need to declare all Criminal Convictions?
Who will see my Criminal Convictions?
Will I be subject to a DBS Check?
Why do I need to declare my diversity information?
Do I need to be a UK national or EEA resident to apply?
Selection process:
Will I be told about the outcome of my application?
I have received an invitation to attend for an interview. What should I do next?
What documents should I bring along to interview?
How can I get the best out of the interview process?
Receiving an Offer:
I’ve received a Conditional Offer – what does this mean?
What are pre employment checks?

Application:

How do I find out about the responsibilities and requirements for the job?
You can find out more about the job from the Job Description and Person Specification which are attached to the job advertisement. The Job Description describes the duties and responsibilities of the post while the Person Specification identifies the criteria we will be using to assess your suitability for the role; which are essential; which are desirable; and the stage of the recruitment process when the criteria will be assessed (i.e. application form, at interview, presentation or test).
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How do I complete the Application Form ?
The application Form is an essential part of the selection process, both in deciding whether you will be shortlisted for an interview, and as a basis for the interview itself. This is the first impression you will be giving of yourself to the recruiting manager so please take time to complete the application fully, accurately and in a professional manner. 
Please do not complete the application in block capitals.
Please ensure that you complete the application form fully, providing relevant information about your experience, relating it to the role which you are applying for. 
For some roles you will be asked to provide a supporting statement and CV, for others you will be required to complete a full application form giving you space to type in your supporting evidence.  
Our recruitment process is based on selecting the candidate who most closely fits the requirements set out in the Person Specification as demonstrated in the application form and Supporting Statement/CV. 
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What needs to be on my CV?
Here are some tips and guidance to help you prepare your CV.
Think about the reader – they’ll make the decision as to whether you will progress to the next stage, so do think about what they are looking for – use the Person Specification to assist you with this
Make it Relevant - if you are applying for several jobs, there is a temptation to submit the same CV for all. However, we advise that you tailor your CV to each job. You are far more likely to be shortlisted for interview if you demonstrate that you understand what the recruiter wants and that you can provide it. 
The job advert should provide you with a picture of what the recruiter is looking for.  If there is a contact number on the advert, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask about any part of the job you are unsure of.  Once you are clear, use your CV to demonstrate how you meet the criteria.  Make sure you present this clearly -don’t leave it to implication or chance.
Include a personal statement – this is normally a brief paragraph and/or series of bullet points setting out your background, what you’re good at, and what you’re looking for. 
You should also set out your main skills and strengths. Remember to put them into context. A list of a person’s supposed strengths in isolation isn’t persuasive, but if you back them up with a brief outline of how you’ve demonstrated or developed them, they become a lot more convincing.
A section for your achievements can be a great way to build a picture of how effective you are, and to give the most impressive things you’ve done proper weight. If you just list them under the relevant jobs in your career history, there’s a risk they won’t stand out and may get passed over. We suggest using verbs to create a sense of action, and show that you were the one who made things happen.
Another tip to help you guide your reader’s idea of you is to repeat key words. These might be the main skills you’re trying to sell, or they could be key verbs like ‘negotiated’, or ‘led’. Don’t overdo it or it will feel contrived, but 3-4 strategic uses of a word like ‘influenced’ spread across your CV can leave the clear impression that you’re great at using your knowledge and connections to make things to happen.
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What should I include as Supporting Evidence?
This is one of the most important sections of the application form. In this section you should describe why you are a suitable candidate for the job by addressing the criteria in the Person Specification. You only need address the criteria that are assessed on the Application Form. Recruiting managers use the Supporting Evidence to assess your application and to decide whether or not you should be shortlisted for interview.
Make sure you read through the requirements in the Job Description and Person Specification and that your application provides enough information and examples of your skills, experience and achievements. Consider any relevant experience you have outside work, for example community or voluntary work or leisure interests. You should aim to give evidence of:
What the task/situation was
What you did and when
The outcome of the task and if the problem was solved
We suggest using verbs to create a sense of action, and show that you were the one who made things happen.
Another tip to help you guide your reader’s idea of you is to repeat key words. These might be the main skills you’re trying to sell, or they could be key verbs like ‘negotiated’, or ‘led’. Don’t overdo it or it will feel contrived, but 3-4 strategic uses of a word like ‘influenced’ spread across your application can leave the clear impression that you’re great at using your knowledge and connections to make things to happen
Keep your answers relevant and concise. Always remember to relate your own experience to the requirements of the role. Don’t just repeat your career history or simply say what you have done before but pick out the skills, knowledge and experience that demonstrate you have the required knowledge, skills, experience and ability to carry out the role successfully. 
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How far back should I go in detailing my employment history?
You should provide a minimum of three years employment history in order of current or most recent first. Your employment history should go back no further than a period of ten years and you can include all job placements, work experience, voluntary work and training.  In each case, you should give a brief description of your duties and responsibilities for each role. If you have worked for an agency, the agency’s details should be given and a list of placements you have undertaken should be provided.
Please ensure you provide details of any periods not accounted for within your employment history in the ‘Gaps in employment’ section. This should include details of any career breaks or periods of unemployment and the reasons for these.
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What qualifications should I include in my application?
You should provide information on all job related qualifications you have gained, showing the most recently achieved first. 
Give full details of any other training attended or currently undertaking relevant to this post.
If you have a professional registration/membership please ensure you provide all the information required.
You may be asked to bring your certificates along to your interview to evidence your qualifications.
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What is the Guaranteed Interview Scheme? 
South Norfolk Council is recognised by the Disability Confident Scheme. This means that we have guaranteed that we will interview anybody with a disability who meets the essential criteria for the post and has opted to be considered under this scheme. 
We will make any reasonable adaptations to the post. 
If you would like to be considered under the guaranteed interview scheme, please tell us under Additional Information. 
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What references do I need to provide?
Your first referee should be your line manager, supervisor, director or HR lead from your current or most recent employer. Your second referee should be from a previous employer, business associate or organiser of a voluntary organisation. 
If you have been with your current employer for 3 years or more we may not need to contact your second referee. 
If you have periods of self-employment, education or voluntary work, you should enter details of a main contractor/user of services, supervisor or tutor. 
We normally do not accept references from friends, relatives or colleagues.
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When will my referees be contacted?
References are obtained to verify your suitability for employment but only after we have made a conditional offer of employment.
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Do I need to declare all Criminal Convictions?
This depends on the nature of the job you are applying for.
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 helps rehabilitated ex-offenders back into work by allowing them not to declare criminal convictions to employers after the rehabilitation period set by the Court has elapsed and the convictions become "spent" (old). During the rehabilitation period, convictions are referred to as "unspent" (current) convictions and must be declared to employers within the application form.
However, in order to protect the vulnerable, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (Exceptions) Order 1975 exempts some professions within the health and care sectors from this approach. Where posts have been identified as exempt, employers are entitled to know about all previous convictions regardless as to whether they are considered "spent" (old) or "unspent" (current), including reprimands, final warnings or cautions, and to take this into account when assessing an individual's suitability for a post.
Where jobs are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 all cautions and bind overs, including those regarded as spent, must be declared. 
Failure to reveal information relating to any convictions could lead to withdrawal of an offer of employment. Where the position falls under regulated activity and meets the criteria for an enhanced criminal record check, the disclosure will include information held against the barred lists for working with children and/or working with adults and any restrictions to that barring. 
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Who will see my Criminal Convictions?
This section of the Application Form will only be viewed by those who need to see it as part of the recruitment process. Any information disclosed will be treated as strictly confidential. The presence of a criminal record will not necessarily prevent employment with South Norfolk Council.
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Will I be subject to a DBS Check?
The appointment of any member of staff who may have contact with, or access to children, young people or vulnerable adults will be subject to the receipt of a satisfactory enhanced DBS check with barred list from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
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Why do I need to declare my diversity information?
South Norfolk Council is committed to ensuring its recruitment processes are fair and equitable and that no job applicant or employee is discriminated against, whether directly or indirectly, on the grounds of sex, race, age, disability, gender reassignment, religion and belief and sexual orientation. 
We ask applicants to provide relevant information so that we can monitor our practice and produce statistics to show how we are meeting our commitment.
Please note that the information you supply is treated in the strictest confidence and will be kept separate from your application form.  Your diversity information will not be available to the short listing / interview panel and will not be used to make any decisions about your application or suitability for employment. 
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Do I need to be a UK national or EEA resident to apply? 
If you are not a UK national or from the European Economic Area (EEA), you will require permission to work in the UK. If you are not sure what permissions are required, please contact the UK Home Office to seek advice before applying.
If you do not have the right immigration status, then you will not be able to be considered. 
It is vital that you provide full and accurate details of your current immigration status on the application form, including your immigration category, permit held, including validity and expiry date. Failure to provide full and accurate information may result in your application being rejected.
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Selection:

Will I be told about the outcome of my application?
Once you have submitted your application, you will receive a notification to advise you that this has been received. 
Following the short-listing process, you will be notified either way whether  you have been selected for interview.  
Please ensure you regularly check your emails following your application with the Council as correspondence will be sent via email.  
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I have received an invitation to attend for an interview. What should I do next?
Please ensure that you confirm your attendance for interview and that you know where the interview is to be held and arrive in plenty of time. 
If there are any special arrangements needed for you to attend for and participate in the interview please ensure that you contact us as soon as possible so that suitable arrangements can be made. 
If you decide to withdraw your application at any point or not attend your interview, please let us know in advance. 
Following your interview, you will be contacted by us to advise you of the outcome. This will be done as soon as possible after the final interview has taken place. 
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What documents should I bring along to interview?

You will need to bring along some documentation to your interview so we can carry out some checks.

Under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, we must ensure you have the right to live and work in the UK. Please bring along your current passport or birth certificate. If you haven’t got either of these, then please refer to the Home Office website for a list of other acceptable documents.

Proof of your National Insurance Number – for example your NI Card or a an original payslip or P60.

If the Person Specification for the role specifies that you should hold a particular qualification or membership of a professional body, you will need to bring in your original certificate of qualification and professional registration.

For some posts we will need to conduct a criminal record check through the Disclosure and Barring Service. This will be clearly stated in the advert and person specification for the role. If this applies to the role you are applying for, you will need to bring in some additional documentation.

We will need to check three pieces of ID, including proof of your current address.  This can include your passport, driving licence and your most recent council tax or utility bill (e-bills are not able to be accepted).  Further details of the ID we can accept can be found on the DBS website.

Please note that if your application is unsuccessful, copies taken will be destroyed securely and confidentially. If you are successful, copies will be retained on your HR file.

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How can I get the best out of the interview process?
Pre-Interview - When it comes to interviews, preparation  is key. Your interview is your chance to show how suitable you are for the job. Research the role, the Council, and the area you will be working in before your interview. It also worth reviewing our social media presence in addition to our website, as it tends to show a different side of our ‘personality’.
Start to think about the key skills your interviewers might be looking for and the sort of questions they may ask you. Think about your key experiences as well, and about examples of when you have demonstrated the skills you’ve demonstrated.
This is also the perfect time to think about a personal pitch, and to practice and perfect a quick summary about you, and what you offer. You can use your personal statement as a useful platform for this.
At interview. -   Use positive communication – both through your words and your body language – to begin to build rapport with your interviewer and put both of you at ease. Make sure you greet them with a handshake and smile. Sit forward in your chair rather than slouch; show that you’re listening and that you understand; and use eye contact – but not too much – to engage.
Almost everyone feels at least a little nervous in an interview, and more than a few of us get serious nerves. Using positive body language and behaviour can be a great shortcut to help you feel and appear more comfortable and confident.  
Answering the Questions - Be honest. Focus on what you’ve done, and let your experience speak for itself – we chose to speak to you, so remember that you have something we’re looking for.
Take your time to answer the questions, and let your interviewer know if you need to take a moment to think through your answer. If you feel yourself talking too quickly, make a conscious effort to take a depth breath to try and slow your speech down. If your hands are shaking, try pressing them against each other.
No two interviews are the same, and there are a number of different styles and approaches in common use by organisations to explore if you have the right skills and aptitude to join them. At SNC we often use competency based interview questions. That is, questions where we ask you to tell us about a real time when you were in a specific kind of situation, and what you did to resolve it.
When you’re facing this type of question, make sure you build your answer around one particular occasion that you experienced, and focus on what action you personally took. You could use the STAR technique to structure your answers:
Situation: Briefly set the scene so that your interviewer understands the context
Task: What did you need to achieve?
Action: What did you actually do? This should make up the meat of your answer
Result: What was the outcome? Make sure it’s appropriate to the question

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Receiving an Offer

I’ve received a Conditional Offer – what does this mean?
If you are successful in the selection process, we’ll make you an offer, subject to pre employment checks, and discuss a provisional start date with you.  Clearly at this stage we are expressing our wish for you to join our team - however we want this to be the right move for you as well as for us.  So take the time you need to consider whether the role and our organisation is the right one for you before you commit.
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What are pre employment checks?
These will always include verification of right to work in the UK, verification of employment history including references covering a minimum of three years, satisfactory medical clearance, and where appropriate verification of relevant qualifications and satisfactory and criminal record check. 
Once all relevant checks have been satisfactorily completed, we will be able to finalise a start date with you. You will then receive copies of your contract of employment and a starter letter to explain were you should report to on your first day. 
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