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The following questions and answers provide some information on the general principles which apply to recruitment competitions. Detailed information on the policies which apply can be found in the NICS Policy & Procedures Manual.


Q1. Who can apply for this Recruitment Competition?

A. All applicants must ensure that they satisfy the Nationality and Right to Work/Immigration requirements for entry into the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) as detailed in the Candidate Information Booklet.

Q2. I am an existing Civil Servant – can I apply?

A. If you are an existing permanent, member of staff employed by any Northern Ireland Civil Service Department at the grade which the competition seeks to recruit you are not eligible to apply.

Q3. Where are opportunities advertised?

All recruitment competitions are advertised on the NICS Recruitment website, the three main local newspapers (Belfast Telegraph, Irish News and Newsletter), on Proud Employers website and across social media channels.

Q4. Are these permanent posts?

A. Yes, these are all permanent positions.

Q5. Are there posts available throughout NI?

A. Yes, the Northern Ireland Civil Service has offices across Northern Ireland. All areas will have some Civil Service offices, while some areas will have considerably more opportunities for posts, e.g. Belfast and the North West.
On the application form candidates may select up to three travel to work areas where they are prepared to work.

Q6. Can I choose which location I want to work in?

A. It is not possible to select offices within a region. Successful candidates must be prepared to work from any location within that region. Details of the allocated office location will be provided in the appointment letter.

Q7. How many positions are available?

A. These competitions are being planned to fill approximately 200 vacancies initially at each grade.

Q.8 Are qualifications needed for these posts? If not, why not?

A. No specific qualifications are required to apply to this NICS competition. It has been designed with Diversity and Inclusion in mind to attract and enable people farthest from the labour market to apply. Bespoke selection tests have been designed by occupational psychologists. This decision allows us to attract the widest possible pool of candidates and to reach out to particular groups that are under-represented in the NICS. This includes young people (under 35), people from minority ethnic backgrounds and disabled people.

Q.9 Can I submit a hard copy application?

A. Applicants are encouraged to submit online applications wherever possible. However, hard copy application packs are available on request. All applications will be treated equally regardless of whether they are hard copy or online.

Q10. Why does the application form ask candidates about previous NICS warnings?

A. The questions in the application form have been included to identify those who have previously been dismissed from the NICS.

Reasonable Adjustments

Q11. I have a disability – what adjustments can be put in place during the recruitment process?

A. We want to ensure all applicants have the opportunity to perform to the best of their ability. If you require any form of reasonable adjustment please note this in the box provided on your application form. You should include details of your disability and the specific adjustment you need. We will consider all requests for reasonable adjustments for any stage of this recruitment process.

Q12. Will reasonable adjustments be accommodated in the workplace?

A. Your line manager will support you if you require an adjustment in the workplace and will follow our ‘Guidance for identifying and implementing reasonable adjustments’ procedure.

Selection Process

Q13. What recruitment and selection methods are used?

A. The assessment tools used for this competition are an application form, followed by online aptitude tests and an online interview. The Candidate Information Booklet provides full details relating to this post and details the selection methods to be used for this competition.

Q15. How can you ensure that the assessment process identifies the best candidates?

A. The assessment process outlined above has been designed to ensure that only those candidates who have demonstrated sufficient capability for this role are considered for appointment. We are committed to appointments on merit, in fair and open competition.

Q16. Will I receive feedback on my performance on the online tests?

Yes, feedback will issue automatically to you at the same time as you receive your online assessment results.

Q17. What if I have a problem during my application, accessing the online test or at any time during the assessment process?

A. Please refer to the invitation you received to initiate the test which gives details of the test helpline. You should contact HRConnect immediately on 0800 1 300 330 or by email to


Q18. If I pass the tests will I be invited for interview?

A. You will be required to achieve a minimum score on each online test. The scores on each of the three elements will be equally weighted and added together to produce an overall score. The top performing candidates will then progress to an interview. If you pass the online assessments but do not score highly enough to proceed, you will remain on a list by test score and may proceed to interview at a later date if required within the lifetime of the competition.

Q19. Will I have to attend the interview in person?

A. The interview will be conducted remotely online via Cisco Webex.

Q20. How do I prepare for the interview?

A. Useful information on how to prepare for the interview has been included in the Candidate Information Booklet. You will be required to provide photographic identification at the interview so you should ensure you have suitable ID readily available.

Q21. How are NICS interviews structured?

A. All interviews are criteria based, which means that candidates are required to demonstrate their competence at interview. Interview questions are based on the competencies for the grade being assessed. These competencies are explained more fully in the NICS Competency Framework. The selection panel will assesses the evidence presented by the candidate against each question and evaluate the extent to which the competences have been satisfied. Each panel member then allocates a score against each criterion, the panel discuss their findings and agree a final score.

Q22. Will I receive feedback after the interview?

A. Feedback will be available upon request once all Interviews are complete.


Q23. How long before I know if I’ve been successful in the competition?

A. You will be informed once all interviews are complete within your tranche. You will be placed on a merit list according to your location preferences and as vacancies arise offers of appointment will be made.

Q24. If successful, when will I start?

A. Appointments will be made in merit order as vacancies arise. We expect the earliest start date to be August 2021.

Q25. If I pass the selection process will I be offered a post?

A. On completion of the selection process, candidates will be appointed in order of merit to the vacancies available. In some areas more candidates may be on the merit list than there are actual vacancies to be filled, therefore some candidates who pass may not score highly enough to be offered a post within the lifetime of the competition.

Further Information

Q26. Where can I find further information on applying to the NICS?

A. Further information on the application process, the selection process, appointments, FAQs and other useful information is available at ‘How do I Apply?’ available on the NICS recruitment website

Q27. Can I complain about my experience of NICS recruitment?

A. The full complaints process for NICS competitions is also available on the NICS recruitment website through the link below at How Do I Complain?