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What to expect when
applying to DCMS

At the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, we recognise how Civil Service recruitment processes are nuanced in comparison to the private sector and can be challenging for candidates to navigate.

With that in mind, our Recruitment Team is committed to supporting candidates through every stage of the recruitment process. We have created application and interview guidance which is attached to every DCMS job advert, alongside a detailed candidate information pack – these documents tell you more about what you can expect from the recruitment process, and provide general application and interview advice. We also run monthly workshops on Civil Service Success Profiles, these provide advice on how to write a good application and deliver a brilliant interview, and also have an open space for any questions you may have.

Our vacancy holders are extremely approachable. The majority of roles in DCMS will run a vacancy holder led ‘information session’, where you can come along to find out more about the role on offer, and what the recruiting panel are looking for. You’ll find details on how to access these sessions in our candidate information packs – which are attached to job adverts. You can also find the vacancy holder’s email address on every job advert and can contact them directly.

If you have any questions, you can always reach out to

The Recruitment Process


All DCMS vacancies are advertised for a minimum of 2 weeks. We would recommend that you set up job alerts on Civil Service Jobs so that you get notified of any roles of interest to you.

If possible, attend an information session for the vacancy (which you will find advertised in the candidate information pack attached to the advert) and/or reach out to the Vacancy Holder directly (details on the advert) if you have any questions.

We recommend you always submit your application at least a day in advance of the deadline – just in case there are any technical difficulties!

Follow our Application Guidance (below) and attend a workshop.


This is the stage following the advert closing where the recruitment panel will review your application. In the Civil Service, every application is considered and scored.

There is no action for you to take at this stage. You can generally expect to hear feedback within 2 weeks.


Following the completion of the sift, you will be notified if you have been successful in securing an interview.

You will be able to book your interview slot through Civil Service Jobs and will be sent a link (if it’s a virtual interview) closer to the date.

Make sure you refer to the interview invite, and refer back to the Candidate Information Pack, for information on what to expect in your interview.

Follow our Interview Guidance (below) and attend a workshop.

Pre-employment Checks and Onboarding

If you are successful at the interview you will receive a provisional offer through Civil Service Jobs and will be contacted by the vacancy holder directly.

Once you accept the offer you will begin pre-employment checks. Depending on whether you are external to the Civil Service, or from another government department, the checks required will vary. DCMS offer weekly drop-in sessions for candidates going through pre-employment checks to ask questions about the process.

Once your checks pass you will receive your formal job offer, you will be able to arrange a start date with your line manager and will be onboarded into the department.

Reasonable Adjustments

To ensure no one is put at a disadvantage during the DCMS recruitment process because of a disability, condition or impairment we offer a range of adjustments to ensure you have a positive candidate experience. 

As part of your application, you will have the opportunity to highlight any support you may need during the recruitment process. You can also contact the recruitment team for any questions or additional help you may need.

Reasonable Adjustments are available for all applicants, not just those applying through the Disability Confident Scheme.

If you have any questions about reasonable adjustments, reach out to the recruitment team –

Examples of Reasonable Adjustments (not an exhaustive list)

  • extra time 
  • interview questions in advance 
  • candidates can record themselves delivering the presentation rather than delivering it during the interview 
  • the panel can switch their cameras off
  • the panel can post the interview question in the chat bar as well as verbally asking the question
  • breaks
  • open questions
  • avoidance of hypothetical questions
  • sign language interpreter
Show more


  • Keep your CV to less than two pages, ensure that it is easy to read and avoid spelling mistakes and acronyms.

Spelling mistakes can be difficult to spot so please read over your application carefully. You could ask someone else to read over it for you, or use an online spell-check tool. Spelling mistakes can lead to a panel member misunderstanding your point and therefore not being able to score your application suitably. 

To keep your CV succinct, include more detail on experiences that are directly relevant to the role you are applying for and less information on roles/pieces of experience that are less relevant. 

A helpful way to keep your CV concise is to avoid repeating the same responsibilities for different roles. You can write “responsibilities as listed in the previous post“ and build your experience with additional responsibilities that you had in each role.  

  • The ‘Essential Requirements’ listed in the advert are the skills and/or experience that are necessary to deliver in the role. Your CV should directly reference your relevant experience in the essential requirements.  

If you have experience similar to the responsibilities listed in the candidate information pack (which is attached to every DCMS job advert) please reference this within your CV. Use every opportunity to show that you have the required skills and experience. 

If your interests outside of work correlate with the work of the team you are applying to join include details about them! Your CV is the first way the panel gets to know you and we are interested in your experience both in, and outside of, the workplace. 

Statement of Suitability

  • The statement of suitability is not a cover letter. It should specifically refer to the essential requirements detailed in the candidate information pack.
  • Highlight evidence of your experience which demonstrates how you meet the essential requirements listed in the candidate information pack.
  • Think about how you structure your statement of suitability so that it is clear to the panel what criteria/skills you are referencing.
  • Briefly address why you are interested in the position.
  • Make full use of the available word count, which will be in the candidate information pack, and avoid bullet points.
  • Focus on what you personally have done, rather than using ‘we’ or ‘my team’ too much.

The candidate information pack attached to the job advert will detail what to expect in your interview, highlighting which of the success profiles you will be assessed against. 

Your invitation to the interview will detail whether you need to prepare anything, such as a presentation. Where presentations are used, the topic/question will be given to you in advance and should state whether or not you can use visual aids.


The behaviours that will be tested in the interview will be listed in your candidate information pack attached to the job advert. 

You may be asked to submit a behaviour statement as part of your application and be tested on this same behaviour in interview. You can provide the same example if it is relevant to the specific question asked.

To ensure you have a solid and robust answer, ensure that your example meets the definition of the behaviour for the grade of role that you are applying for, which can be found here.  

All behaviour answers should be structured in the STAR format.  

Situation – The situation is the challenge/issue/project you had to deal with. 

Task – What task(s) you were given to do.

Action – The action(s) you took. 

Result – What was the outcome of your action(s). 

To ensure that you are structuring your answer effectively please follow this advised format in terms of how you split the available word count: 10% Situation 10% Task 60% Action 20% Result.

Behaviour answers should be between 5-8 minutes in length. Going beyond this amount of time may jeopardise other sections of the interview for example preventing the panel from asking follow up questions, ultimately going over time can impact your overall score. It is not necessary to give background information before starting your answer or to explain why you think it is a relevant example.

The use of data, whether that be facts or figures, can strengthen your answer and give more depth to the result element of your response.


The candidate information pack will detail if strengths will be assessed, but it will not specify what strengths will be assessed. 

There are certain strengths that complement the behaviours outlined in the candidate information pack. You can review this in the strengths dictionary

It is important to remember that scores are awarded for strengths based on what you enjoy doing and what you are good at. You should show clear willingness, desire and motivation to demonstrate the skill in your strength response.

Strengths are different to behaviour questions and the panel are not expecting a STAR formatted answer. Instead, they will look for a natural and authentic response. However, you may choose to reference an example if it would be helpful to support your response.

Strength answers are expected to be about 2 minutes long, going over this time could impact your score.

Workshop Feedback

“This workshop is an excellent initiative. It is incredibly helpful for someone outside of the Civil Service as it goes into detail about how to write a Civil Service application and prepare for an interview”

Workshop Feedback

“The example interview question role play between the two presenters was brilliant. I loved how they demonstrated using the STAR (situation, task, action, result) methodology”