How to Apply

Apply your unique talent to make the UK a great place for living.

At Defra, we believe that your personal qualities are as important as your professional experience. We welcome applications from all backgrounds, and all walks of life.

Our approach is to recruit “on merit on the basis of fair and open competition”, in line with the Civil Service Commission’s Recruitment Principles. As such, our thorough selection process is designed to ensure that you, and every other candidate, receive equal and fair treatment.

On this page, you will find an overview of the application process. You will be able to read further details in the candidate pack for the role you are interested in, as well as full guidance on the website when you make your application.

Step 1
Online Application
Step 2
Online Tests
Step 3
Step 4
Security Check

Submitting your online application

You can complete and submit your application through the website civilservicejobs. Please note that once you submit your application, you cannot amend it.

You will be asked to enter your most current employment details, covering a period of at least 3 years. You can enter up to a total of eight previous jobs, and you must provide details of any gaps in your employment history.

You may be asked to provide behaviour examples during your application, but we will tell you if this is the case within the job advert. Read this document to understand what behaviours we are looking for, and how they are assessed.

You should only upload your CV if the application form clearly asks you to. You may also be asked to upload an additional document, which will be specified on the application form.

You will be able to track your completed application form through the site. Here, you can view your application status and any correspondence sent to you, along with the sender’s contact details. You can also edit your personal details.

If you wish to reapply for a job or you need to update any information, such as your employment details or educational achievements, please contact the recruitment team or the contact given within the job advert.

Reasonable adjustment

If a person with disabilities is put at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person, we are committed to adapting our processes.

If you require such a change to complete your application, you should approach the point of contact in the job advert as soon as possible before the closing date, to discuss your needs.

Please also complete the “Assistance required” section in the “Additional requirements” page of your application form to explain what help you might need, further on in the recruitment process. (For example, we can ensure wheelchair access or a Language Service Professional at your interview.)

Disability Confident Scheme

The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities. As such, we run a Disability Confident Scheme (DCS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.

As a Disability Confident employer, we positively welcome applications from disabled people. We are committed to making workplace adjustments wherever possible to ensure that disabled people can participate fully, not only in the recruitment and selection process, but when they are appointed into their job. We offer a guaranteed interview scheme for all disabled applicants who provide evidence of meeting the minimum requirements necessary for the post.

Please get in touch with us at any stage of the recruitment process to discuss how we can help you whether you have a physical impairment, a mental health condition or are neurodiverse.

Once you are appointed your line manager will work with you to identify any workplace adjustments which we can make to meet your needs and enable you to carry out your work.

Online tests

We may also use online psychometric tests to help decide whether you have the required capabilities to meet the needs of a job at a particular grade.

This may include completing one or more of the following tests:

  • Civil Service Verbal Reasoning Test
  • Civil Service Numerical Reasoning Test
  • Civil Service Judgement Test
  • Civil Service Work Strengths Test

However, we will say whether this is the case within each job advert. No specialist knowledge or experience is needed for any of the tests, and if you are invited to complete one, we will send you full instructions.

The Civil Service Judgement Test is a situational judgement test which measures your ability to demonstrate specific behaviours underpinning the job you are applying for. It also includes some self-assessment questions about your aspiration and engagement.

Please ensure you are familiar with the Civil Service Behaviours.

Test results and feedback

We will calculate your score based on the responses you provide, and we will compare your score with the results of a peer group who have taken the same test(s).

Meeting the minimum required standard for the test(s) is no guarantee that you will be invited to the next stage of the selection process.

You will receive an automatically generated feedback report that will help you to understand how well you performed. It will also provide some general suggestions as to how you can improve further.

Sift assessment

A sift is an assessment of your behaviour examples or CV and other criteria, which helps us to determine whether to invite you to interview.

A sift panel agrees the standards used to assess each application, to determine who best demonstrates the behaviours required for each vacancy.


Most interviews last about an hour, and will test you on the advertised criteria for the post.

You may also be asked to prepare a presentation on a given subject area. If this is the case, we will notify you in advance of the interview.

Pre-appointment checks

If you have been successful, we will send you a provisional offer of employment, pending the pre-appointment checks specified in the job advert.

These checks can take several weeks, and must be satisfactorily completed before we can make a formal offer of employment or agree a start date. Therefore, if you are in employment, please do not hand in your notice until a formal job offer is made.

All non-civil servants need to undergo a security check as part of pre-employment checks. If you are an existing civil servant, some roles may require further, more detailed vetting.

You can find out more about the different types of security checks