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A Band Candidate Workshop with BSL - Transcript

Slide 1

Hello and welcome to this workshop, the purpose of which is to give an overview of:

• Social Security Scotland and its role.

• The Benefits that we need your help delivering.

• What the application process looks like from application through to interview, with helpful hints and tips as we go through.

Slide 2

Social Security Scotland is an Executive Agency of the Scottish Government, created in September 2018. We are the most significant new public service to be established in Scotland since devolution.

We have been set up by the Scottish Government to deliver a number of vital social security benefits, that will be introduced in stages. Once fully operational, we will deliver benefits for people on low incomes, disabled people, carers, young people entering the workplace and to people who require financial support to heat their homes.

Our head office is located in Dundee, with a large second operational site in Glasgow. We also have a growing team of people based across the country who are establishing a face to face support service for clients in our local communities.

Slide 3

At Social Security Scotland we put dignity, fairness and respect at the heart of everything we do, our organisation is a place where everyone is welcomed and treated equally.

We need the right people, with the right attitude to help us carry out the important work of benefit delivery. That is why we look for applications from candidates who have lived experiences, from all walks of life, who believe in delivering an excellent level of service to the citizens of Scotland.

As an agency of the Scottish Government we adhere to the Civil Service Recruitment Principles ensuring all candidates we hire are appointed on merit through fair and open competition.

This means that we are recruiting the right way. Our recruitment process doesn’t rule anyone out based on their background, religion or race or any protected characteristics.

Slide 4

Some benefits we need your help to deliver include:

  • Best Start Grants/Foods
  • Pension Age Disability Payment
  • Carer’s Allowance Supplement
  • Funeral Support Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Cold Weather Payments
  • Scottish Child Payment
  • Child Disability Payment
  • Adult Disability Payment
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

Slide 5

There are many benefits to choosing a career with Social Security Scotland.

• Joining the agency in an A3 position we offer a starting salary of £20,064 rising through pay steps to £22,232. Our A4 position salaries start at £23,344 rising through pay steps to £24,909.

• All Social Security Scotland employees benefit from a Civil Service pension scheme, offering generous contribution options, giving you the opportunity to build towards a secure retirement.

• A job with in Civil Service offers the opportunity for a balanced work life offering 25 days annual leave on joining plus 11.5 public and privilege days leave. After four full years’ service, annual leave allowance increases to 30 days with the additional 11.5 public and privilege days. We also offer up to three days paid special leave a year for our staff to participate in volunteering.

• We offer a great working environment with a relaxed and supportive culture. Our offices are open plan and fully accessible. The senior management team are approachable and visible.

• Our commitment is to hiring the best people, therefore we won’t discount you based on your circumstances. We can offer the possibility of full time, part time, term time and job shares. All working patterns are considered by the hiring business area and will be agreed, dependant on the needs of the department.

• We are committed to staff training and development. When you join, comprehensive training is provided to ensure that you are comfortable and confident of being able to perform to your best ability in the role you are hired to carry out. A wealth of online training and available courses are for staff who want to develop personally and professionally.

• With the staged roll of our Social Security benefits we are experiencing rapid growth as an organisation. This is creating incredible career and development opportunities for our staff to progress within the organisation.

• We provide ongoing support for all staff including supporting all reasonable adjustments. We offer an Employee Assistance Programme that is a free service providing confidential, independent and unbiased information and guidance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

• We Pride ourselves on our culture of inclusivity, creativity and positivity for all. There are no minimum requirements in terms of work history or qualifications for our A Band positions, a full induction and training programme is supplied to each successful candidate.

Slide 6

Here we get our first look at the recruitment process for A band level applications.

The first stage of the recruitment process is your application submission. All completed applications go through a fair and open process where a panel of impartial civil servants score each application. This is called the application sift.

Candidates who score the minimum pass mark or above at the application sift are then invited to complete the next stage of the process, which takes the form of an online test.

Candidates at this stage are emailed details of the online test and given a set timeframe to log on and complete the test. All candidates who score above the set pass mark for the online test then progress to the next stage and are invited to attend a competency based interview, which is the final stage of assessment.

The competency based interview is your opportunity to give further evidence as to why you are a good fit for the position you are applying for. Candidates who pass this interview stage will then be offered posts in order of merit, with a reserve list generally held for a minimum of 9 months. Offers can be made to reserve list candidates as further posts become available.

All successful candidates then go through our on boarding process, where we carry out pre-employment and HR checks, necessary to get you started.

Slide 7


In order to submit your application you will be asked to complete up to four ‘essential criteria’. You will find a list of the essential criteria for the job you are applying for in the job advert.

• The essential criteria are the key skills, knowledge or experience required for the role you are applying for.

• The essential criteria give you the opportunity to show how effectively you can communicate, analyse yourself and work critically.

• Each essential criteria will ask you to provide specific examples of when you have displayed these skills, knowledge or experience.

• Each of the essential criteria on your application are scored through the sifting process, with successful candidates progressing to the Online Test stage.

• We are committed to providing feedback to all candidates who submit an unsuccessful application, to help you understand where you went wrong and improve for future applications. For large campaigns with a high volume of applications, we will often be required to provide generic key point feedback at this sift stage.

Slide 8


We recommend you use the STARR Approach to structure each of your essential criteria examples.

The STARR approach is an interview technique that helps you structure your answers. This helps you to break your answers down under the headings situation, task, action, result and reflection.

It is not mandatory for you to use the STARR approach and candidates cannot be marked down for not using it, however using the STARR Approach makes it easier for the person who is marking your application form to determine if you have demonstrated fully your skills experience and knowledge in relation to the essential criteria.

For a detailed breakdown of how to structure your examples using the STARR approach, please review the Starr Approach document in the ‘How to make a great application’ section of our Social Security Scotland website.

Slide 9

Tips on writing your example

  • read the essential criteria a few times
  • think of your experience and think about some specific examples.
  • ensure the example you choose to use relates to the essential criteria that is being asked.
  • draft out your example, ideally using the STARR approach.
  • the maximum word count is 300 words. Try to utilise this fully but don’t go over the word count. Going over the word count results in an automatic fail of the essential criteria and deems the overall application as unsuccessful.
  • ask a friend or colleague to read your example.
  • ensure you finalise your answer, making sure to carry out a spell check.

Slide 10

Some common mistakes when completing Essential Criteria can be:

• Too many or too few words – Remember to utilise the 300 word count allowance.

• Don’t list the roles and responsibilities in place of a specific experience. Also don’t copy a job description.

• A lot of applications fail as they don’t provide enough detail on the actions that were taken and the reason that these actions were taken.

• The example given isn’t specific or linked to answering the essential criteria being asked.

• It can be easy to use ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ in the examples you provide. However, remember we are looking for what you specifically did within the examples you give.

• Not using the right example for the essential criteria. Think about some examples and choose the one that you think best fits to what is being asked.

• Do not give competency based answers at this stage, these will be asked if you progress to interview stage.

Slide 11

All completed applications are sifted with a score given for each of the essential criteria on the application.

To pass through to the next stage of assessment, applicants must achieve a minimum score of one in each of the essential criteria. This is the minimum pass mark that can be set although in some circumstances the pass mark can be raised higher, generally when there are a small number of advertised posts and a high number of applications that have passed the baseline requirement.

Applicants who score a zero in any of the essential criteria will be deemed unsuccessful, their applications sifted out and will therefore not be invited to the next stage of assessment.

Slide 12

We are committed to the employment and career development of disabled people.

We are a Disability Confident employer, committed to inclusive recruitment. The Disability Confident scheme which replaced The Guaranteed Interview scheme in November 2016 encourages us to think differently about disability and take action to improve how we recruit, retain and develop disabled people.

We welcome applications through the Disability Confidence Scheme and all applications will be considered equally. When applying through Disability Confident Scheme, as long as you score at least 1 in all essential criteria examples, even in circumstances where the pass mark is raised above this baseline, you will be invited to attend an interview.

If you consider yourself disabled you will have the option of applying through the Disability Confident Scheme when you submit your online application. This means that as long as you meet the minimum requirement for the role you will be invited to an interview.

We will ask you to let us know if you need any adjustments for any part of the recruitment stage. We are committed to making reasonable adjustments throughout the recruitment process and if you join us, to where and how you work.

Slide 13

Online Test

The online test will likely take the form of either a Situational Judgement Test or a Numerical & Verbal Reasoning Test.

These online tests remove the requirement for us to advertise our A grade posts with minimum qualifications and ensures that we can recruit the best people from a wide variety of experiences and backgrounds. Remember, we are looking for a diverse workforce that really reflects and represents the Scottish population that we serve.

The online test selected for each post will be clearly stated in the job advert, to ensure that you understand what to expect from the recruitment process.

Situational Judgement Tests are used to assess behavioural decision-making, and thought processes, when introduced to hypothetical, work-related scenarios.

Numerical & Verbal Reasoning Tests are used to ensure that you have the minimum level of numeracy and literacy skills required to perform the role.

All candidates who score above the set pass mark for the online test are invited to attend a competency based interview, which is the final stage of assessment.

Please note that although the online test will usually come after the application sift there may be occasions when this is reversed. Please read the job advert which will outline the recruitment process for the role you are applying for.

Slide 14

At the moment all our interviews are being carried out virtually using live video calls.

If you are invited to interview, you will be provided with all the relevant information as part of your invite to interview email including guidance on competency based interviewing, interviewing online and other helpful tips.

For overview, the questions asked at interview are competency based and are scored against Scottish Governments ‘Skills for Success’ framework. All applicants are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the framework. As discussed you will be provided with comprehensive guidance within the interview invite.

Slide 15

With the unprecedented circumstances of Covid 19 we have adapted as an organisation, with the majority of staff successfully transitioning to a working from home environment.

As discussed, at present all our interviews are being carried out using virtual recruitment using live video calls.

Our Learning and Development Team are also delivering full training online via video conferencing.

All staff are provided with a laptop and any other equipment that they require to allow them to work from home in a safe and comfortable manner.

We continue to monitor and review the restrictions announced by the Scottish Government, aligning our guidance accordingly.

Slide 16

You can sign up and create a profile on our Website and Civil Service Jobs. We recommend setting up Job alerts and regularly checking Work for Scotland for all of the latest civil service Jobs.

Slide 17

Thank you for taking the time to join our Workshop. We wish you the very best of luck with your application. For more resources and support please see the next slide for links that will be helpful with completing your application. 

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