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Our application process


When you apply for any role on the census, you’ll need to complete a number of steps as part of your application. Below, we’ve outlined these steps in detail, to help you understand what to expect.

If you have any questions or need help at any stage of the process, including if you need us to make certain changes (known as 'reasonable adjustments'), please get in touch with our help desk via the ‘Contact us’.

Register online

It’s easy to get started. Just find the role you’re interested in via the ‘Search for a job’ page and once you have read the job description select the 'Apply for this role' button.

(If we’re not ready to recruit for the role you’re interested in, you can easily ‘Register your interest’ now, and we’ll be in touch when we’re hiring.)

In the first instance, you’ll need to create an online account. You’ll be asked to enter your email address, and we’ll send you a message to activate and set up your account. Then, you can complete the application form for the role you’re interested in.

(This step should take 5-10 minutes).


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Online test

Once you have submitted your application, you will be directed to complete a Situational Judgement Test (SJT), which is an online assessment.

This is designed to help us understand how you might behave in certain situations at work. It will also help make sure that the role you’ve selected is a good fit for you.

The SJT will present you with a range of different scenarios you might experience in the role.

For each scenario, you’ll have 4 different options for how you could respond, and from these you must select the BEST and WORST response to the scenario.

The test is not timed but should take approximately 20 minutes to complete.

An example question and further guidance on the SJT is provided here.

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Right to work check

Once you've passed your Situational Judgement Test we’ll carry out a standard right to work in the UK check as part of your application. (At the Virtual welcome event, we’ll check that you’re eligible to work for the Civil Service.)

Language assessment

For roles that require language capabilities such as community advisers and all Welsh speaking roles, we'll need to assess your proficiency in the required language. This will be a short assessment over the phone with one of our language experts.

You will now be assessed to B1 level:

B1 = Intermediate:

  • main points on common topics at work, school, or travelling
  • general and specific details given in clear speech
  • factual texts on subjects of interest

Improve your Welsh

Want to apply for a Welsh language role, but feel you need some practice? You can use the following resources:

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Virtual welcome event

Once you've passed your right to work in the UK check, we’ll invite you to a virtual welcome event. This will be done via a video call.

Our virtual welcome events will be an opportunity for us to verify your identification, check you meet the civil service nationality requirements and ensure you're the right fit for the role.

In addition, for certain roles you'll be required to complete a competency-based interview.

Further guidance about the interview will be provided along with your invitation to the virtual welcome event. 

Please note, that spaces at our virtual welcome events are limited. Once these events are filled, we may not be able to accommodate further applicants. Please ensure you book an event promptly to avoid disappointment.

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Pre-employment screening

If you meet the minimum criteria at the virtual welcome event, you will be invited to complete your pre-employment screening. This is to verify that the information you've given us is correct.

The online screening will focus on (but is not limited to) past employment history and any unspent criminal convictions. Please ensure you have information such as address history, past employment details and referees available.

Please note, not all candidates who meet the criteria at the virtual welcome event will be given a conditional offer of employment. Candidates who have been selected to progress will receive a conditional offer within 10 days of their virtual welcome event.

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If you are given a conditional offer of employment and pass your pre-employment screening, you will be issued your contract of employment. Congratulations! Once you’ve signed and returned this (and shown your motor business insurance, if applicable), we’ll book you in for your first day.

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Virtual induction and online learning

During your virtual induction, you will receive a warm welcome to the Census 2021 team, and learn about your role in this historic event. Then, you’ll move onto our digital learning where you will need to complete and pass a number of modules.

If you have selected a manager grade role you will be invited to virtual classroom training, where you will learn the skills and knowledge you need to do your job; this will be known as the pre-operational period. During the pre-operational period, your contracted hours are 20 hours per week.

An example timeline is below and is subject to the time required to undertake the different steps.

Day 1: Meet your manager, collect your equipment and validate your right to work

Day 2: Attend virtual induction event 

Days 2 – 4: Complete role specific digital and virtual classroom training and be available to accept delivery of additional kit

Week 2: Undertake pre-operational activity as directed by your manager and begin in the field


ONS have taken measures to ensure that contact at your start day is limited, and the meetings are individual meetings with your ONS manager. Can we ask that you follow government guidance when attending your meeting:

  • HANDS - Wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds
  • FACE - Cover your face in enclosed spaces, especially where social distancing may be difficult and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. For further guidance on when you must wear a face covering and where you are exempt select this guide
  • SPACE - Stay 2 metres apart where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place.
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