In this section, you'll find information about our application process, including how to send your application and preparing for an interview.

Applying for a vacancy

Is the closing date flexible?

Applications close at 23:59 on the job advert's closing date. If you experience technical difficulties submitting your application please contact recruitment@sds.co.uk or call 0300 013 5119 (call charges apply).

How do I apply?

All applications are made through our jobs portal.  To apply, search for a vacancy and follow the onscreen instructions to create a profile and complete your application.

I've not attached details of my qualifications or referees. Can I still submit my application?

Yes, you can. We’ll still need copies of your qualifications and referee details if an offer is made following the interview process.

When will I hear if I've been invited to interview?

We will keep you informed at every stage of the process and if there is a considerable delay we will contact you to let you know.

Preparing for your interview

How can I prepare for an SDS competency based interview?

All interviews at SDS follow a competency-based framework, sometimes known as evidence-based interviewing. Before your interview, you’ll be told which competencies are most relevant to the role you have applied for.

During the interview, you will be expected to use examples of past work. You should spend time reflecting on your best work achievements over recent times – you can also use evidence from outside work if you feel it better demonstrates your competency in a particular area. However, it is generally better to use work-based evidence where you can.

The interviewer will score your answers against the competencies of the job you’ve applied for. Interviewers will also take into account your suitability for that specific team and wider organisation. Some interviews may have additional assessment criteria where you’ll need to evidence a technical skill or knowledge needed to do the role.

As all interviewees for the same post are asked the same non-discriminatory questions, it ensures fairness and consistency in the selection process.

To help you prepare, we’ve created some guides:

Can I view the job description after the closing date?

You can review the job description by logging into your account and clicking on application history. You’ll find the job description under ‘documents’.

I'm unable to attend the interview on the date given. Is it possible to request a different interview date?

In exceptional circumstances, and at the discretion of the recruitment panel, we will try to provide you with an alternative date. Email recruitment@sds.co.uk or call 0300 013 5119 (call charges apply) and ask to speak to the resourcing team.

Do you reimburse interview travel expenses? 

Unfortunately, we are unable to reimburse travel expenses.

Can I ask for reasonable adjustments to be made during my interview (applies to candidates applying under the Disability Confident Initiative)?

Yes, you can email recruitment@sds.co.uk or call 0300 013 5119 (call charges apply) and ask to speak to the resourcing team.

What to expect after your interview

I've had an interview. How long will it be before I hear the outcome?

We’ll try to let you know within one week of the final interview. Sometimes interviews are spread over a period of time and it may take a little longer. If considerable delays are expected we’ll let you know.

Is it possible to have feedback on my application?

We try our best to provide feedback following review of your application. However, if we receive a large number of applicants then this isn't always possible.

If you want to request feedback from your interview please email recruitment@sds.co.uk 

Career Adviser interview guidance

Should I apply for every vacancy that is advertised? 

We ask that applicants use good judgement when applying for roles. You need to be able to commit to the geographical location and the development plan we offer Careers Advisers You are welcome to apply for vacancies you believe are suitable and manageable for you in terms of commute, however, we cannot guarantee that you will be offered an interview as the volume of applications varies between regions. 

Is it possible to receive feedback on my application?  

We try our best to provide feedback following review of your application. However, if we receive a large number of applicants then this isn't always possible. We ask that if you receive developmental feedback regarding the quality of your application that you review your application and make necessary improvements before reapplying.  

I’ve had an interview, when will I hear the outcome?  

We’ll try to let you know within one week of the final interview. Sometimes interviews are spread over a period of time and it may take a little longer. If considerable delays are expected, we’ll let you know. 

I have been advised that I met benchmark following my recent interview. What does this mean? 

Meeting benchmark means that you have scored sufficiently well to achieve the required standard for the role of Careers Adviser.  We will retain these scores for a period of three months dating from your last interview. If you apply for a vacancy within this three-month period you will not be required to repeat the initial interview process, you will instead be invited to a second stage interview.  Your scores and interview paperwork will be shared with the interview panel. Once this three-month period has lapsed you will be required to undertake the full interview process. 

What can I expect at second interview stage? 

At second stage interview you’ll be assessed against two competencies (details of which will be provided) and the interview will last approximately 30 minutes. The paperwork and scores from your previous interview will be shared with the interview panel.  

How many times can I interview? 

If we note that you have interviewed on three or more occasions and have not demonstrated improvement between interviews we will advise that you take a period of 3 months to reflect on the feedback provided and work on developing your skill set in the hope that this will enhance the content of your answers.  

Intern / Modern Apprentice interview guidance

SDS are piloting Values-based recruitment for our Youth Recruitment campaigns in 2019.

Why Values Based Interviews? 

SDS has adopted Values Based Recruitment approach for our Young Talent Programme this year, to help attract and select employees whose personal values and behaviours align with the values of the organisation.  

We recognise that young people might not necessarily have the breadth or depth of work experience which lends itself to Competency based recruitment. 

Adopting a values-based approach, which allows the candidate to share their views of the workplace based on their personal values and behaviours, is another method of identifying potential. Evidence also suggests that values-based recruitment is a good recruitment practice, and staff with the right values are more likely to:  

  • Work efficiently in teams 
  • Enhance the customer experience 
  • Experience greater job satisfaction

Our 4 core values are: 

  • We put the needs of the customer at the heart of all we do
  • We make use of our combined strengths and expertise to deliver the best outcomes
  • We demonstrate self- motivation, personal responsibility and respect
  • We continually improve to achieve excellence

What is Values Based Recruitment? 

Values are basic and fundamental beliefs that guide or motivate our attitudes or actions. They help us determine what is important to us. Values describe the personal qualities we choose to guide our actions; the sort of person we want to be; how we treat others and ourselves and how we interact with the world around us.   

Values based recruitment assesses the extent to which an individual’s values align with the demands of the job, the values of the organisation and culture of the working environment.  It considers how attitudes, motives and values influence behaviours.   

Values based recruitment is similar to the more commonly used Competency-based interview style.  The interviewer will ask you to provide an example of a time when you have demonstrated a value, and then follow up with some questions about how you responded to that situation and how it made you feel.  If you do not have an experience to use as evidence, then you may talk hypothetically about how you would respond.  But you should still be prepared to answer follow up questions. 

In addition to the values-based questions the interview panel may ask you some other questions about any knowledge or experience you have of any job specific elements of the job including systems/tools/processes.  

How can I Prepare? 

As all interviewees for the same post are assessed against the same set of pre-determined values, this ensures fairness and consistency in the selection process.  You will be notified as to which Values you will be assessed against in the email inviting you to attend the Assessment Centre.   

In addition to our Values we will ask a question in relation to Equality and Diversity.  SDS is committed to embedding E & D in all that we do.  This is aligned to our ambition to be an Employer of Choice and an exemplar of fair work as well as in our Public Sector Equality Duty. 

Your communication skills will be assessed throughout the whole assessment centre; the presentation, interview and group exercise.  

You should begin by thinking about any experiences or achievements you have which relate to the values you are being assessed against.  You can use experiences or achievements from any aspect of your life; education, work, sport/hobbies, volunteering or charity work.  Make a list of these situations and then add some notes using the STAR approach. 

S – Situation – what was the situation you were in.  Give some background/context so the panel understand 

T – Task – what task were you faced with 

A – Action – what did you do? What choices did you have to make? What challenges did you have to overcome? And how did you do that? 

R – Result – what was the outcome? 

Where possible you should provide evidence by talking about a situation which actually happened.  However, it is okay to talk in more general terms about how you would respond or react to the situation you are asked about.  With values based interviews you should be prepared to answer follow up or probing questions which tell the interviewer: 

  • Why you took the action you did
  • How the situation made you feel
  • What impact did it have on you
  • What you have learned from the situation
  • What you would do differently next time

How Do I Answer the Question? 

A common mistake that interviewees make is that they try to predict the question and have an answer prepared for that question.  However, if you come with an example which is really good, but does not answer the question, the interview panel will have difficulty scoring you. 

Some of the examples you think about when doing your interview prep will provide evidence for more than one question.  It is far better when doing your preparation to think more generally about the evidence you have and then select the best example to fit the question you are asked. 

Where possible you should give the panel a specific example of a time when you have displayed the value/behaviours and be prepared to talk about it in some detail using the STAR approach detailed above.  This will help you give the panel enough detail to assess your suitability for the role.   

If you are not providing enough information or go off track, the interview panel may interrupt you and ask supplementary questions to help refocus your response and get a better understanding of what you did.