Covid-19 Advice to Departments

Please find the Commission's response to general enquiries to dealing with recruitment during the current time. This is based on the questions we have been receiving. We ask that you check this in the first instance, before contacting the Commission directly. If the answer to the question is not there, please call 0207 271 0831 or email

This guidance has been agreed with Civil Service Employee Policy (CSEP). The Commission will be working with CSEP to develop further guidance and we will keep our own website reviewed and refreshed. 

Departments are able to offer interviews in alternative format, such as Skype, Google hang outs, video calls etc. The option of last resort would be the “traditional” phone call.  This will be dependent on the IT capability of departments, and of the candidates themselves. The Recruitment Principles are not overly prescriptive and provide departments with the ability to design an assessment process which suits business needs. Success Profiles also provides departments with the option to provide for a range of assessments.

For example, if you have stated in the candidate pack that a presentation will be required, consider whether it is possible to ask the candidate to submit something in writing, to be discussed with the panel by phone or video conferencing.

If you need to reconsider whether you can offer all the stages of the process in a campaign, whether at assessment centre or otherwise, you can remove an advertised stage, for example an exercise/role play.  You should disregard any scores you may already have given to candidates who have already gone through this part of the process so that all candidates are assessed on the same criteria.  The Commission will not consider this to be a breach as long as what you have done, and the reason, is clearly documented.

Where possible, try to offer a consistent format for interviews  to all candidates (i.e. all by video preferably or all by phone). If that is not possible for some candidates, due to the access of IT, take a reasoned approach, and ensure that approach is documented. The Commission cannot provide you with technological advice.

  • Interviews should be consistent, as usual, and ask the same questions on the same behaviours or strengths. You should follow the information published in your candidate packs.

Please remember where a Commissioner is chairing a competition they should be consulted on all aspects and decisions should not be taken without their knowledge or prior agreement. You must make arrangements and agree with them on any IT based approach to ensure their IT has appropriate capability. Planning and shortlist meetings can take place via phone or skype, you must discuss interview arrangements with the Commissioner in advance of the campaign launching.

There are some campaigns which could assess candidates using solely written evidence, and/or the results of online assessments. This is a decision for the department, you must be assured that you are able to make a sound judgement using the information available. Departments must have the same amount of evidence for each candidate and not consider anything else they may be aware of eg for internal candidates known to them.

In instances where candidates refuse alternative formats for interview, the offer can be withdrawn, unless the request is in relation to a reasonable adjustment, and in relation to a disability. We would expect you to offer candidates a reasonable amount of time  in which to allow a candidate to respond to communications, particularly where you are introducing changes.

There may be some instances where campaigns will need to be paused, or cancelled. This decision is the department’s to make, the Commission would not advise on how best to manage staff resources.

In relation to submitting ID, the Commission has advised that no candidate should be unduly disadvantaged if they are unable to provide evidence of their ID at interview. The arrangements for submitting ID are being discussed and CSEP/ GRS  will provide more information in due course. The Commission will publish this guidance.

Best practice usually leads to a three person panel. The Commission is hoping that this best practice  can continue, however, the Recruitment Principles require  there to be a minimum of two people on a panel. Please note that the panel and process must be chaired by a civil servant for all recruitment at PB1 and below, and the Commission will expect to see evidence that this has been observed at all times.

You should also, where possible, give due regard to the diversity of panels.

If the answer to the question is not there, please call 0207 271 0831 or email

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