How to apply

Working for FCO Services is your job, bigger – so our application process might sometimes be different from what you’re used to. Here, you’ll find the support you need to make the best application.

I remember the first time I came here: I expected it to be daunting, but people were so friendly.

Need interview adjustments?

Before we get into how to apply, we want to be upfront: if you have a physical disability or a long-term health or mental health condition, or any other reason that means you need adjustments to any part of application, all you need to do is tell us. We’re Disability Confident committed which means when it comes to recruitment, we actively encourage applicants with disabilities, so if you disclose what you need, we’ll do everything we can to help. It won’t affect your application at all. Please also let us know if you have any issues with using our website that you’d like to report.

If you have any questions, feedback on our webiste, or would like to ask us about your application, please email us at fcoservices.recruitment@fcoscareers.co.uk and we’ll be in touch as soon as we can.

An accessible building

We strive to make our interview process accessible for everyone – and part of that is making sure that our building is accessible too. As well as making any reasonable adjustments you need, our building is equipped with:

Both sites:

  • Wheelchair-accessible ramps
  • Rooms with heading aid loops
  • Accessible toilets

Hanslope Park only:

  • Ground-floor interview rooms
  • Accessible parking

King Charles Street only:

  • Interview rooms accessible by lifts
  • Step-free access from Green Park and Westminster tube stations (for more information see here)

Our application steps

Remember: if you need us to make any adjustments at any stage, email us at fcoservices.recruitment@fcoscareers.co.uk

1. Online application

Once you’ve found a job you’re interested in, the first thing you’ll do is apply online, filling in pre-application eligibility questions, outlining how you meet the roles criteria and submitting your CV. Below we’ll tell you all about every step involved, so that you’re well-prepared.

2. Application sift

At this point, you don’t need to do anything, but our team will be conducting a sift behind the scenes. That means we’ll assess all our applications against the essential criteria for the role, progressing applications based on merit and who best fits the criteria. It’s important to note that our sifting process anonymises the personal data in the application form.

3. Interview

As a result of the sift the most meritious candiates are invited to interview. Here, we’ll usually run through your CV, then ask a combination of competency-based and job-specific questions. We might also set you a job-specific exercise or a presentation, but again, if that’s the case we’ll let you know in advance. You can find out about the competencies framework we use here.

4. Psychometric Tests

On occasions we might do some psychometric testing at interview stage, to aid the interview panel in understanding how you work and manage others. If that’s the case, we’ll let you know in advance. If you’d like to prepare, you can take a look at some practice tests through Saville Assessment and TalentLens.

5. Vetting

If you’re successful at interview and we offer you the role, you’ll then go through our pre-employment enquiries, including referencing and medical assessment. This assessment helps establish any reasonable adjustments we can make for you, and in some cases, establishes physical ability for certain roles, e.g. those that require climbing. You’ll also undergo the relevant vetting process to make sure you’re suitable for the position. You can find out about that in more detail – what’s involved and why it’s necessary – here.

Eligibility

Colleagues in FCO Services work in what’s known as ‘reserved roles’ – roles within certain Civil Service departments that come with particular restrictions, because of the nature of the work. That means that if you’re applying to us, we need you to meet the conditions below, and unfortunately there are few exceptions to that. The conditions are:
  • You must be a British Citizen
  • You must be free to remain and work in the UK
  • Roles that require SC vetting: You must have lived in the UK for at least two of the past five years, at least one year of which must be 12 consecutive months
  • Roles that require DV vetting: You must have lived in the UK for at least five out of the past ten years, at least one year of which must be 12 consecutive months.

The exception here is if you’ve served overseas with HM Forces or in some other official capacity as a representative of HM Government, or you’ve lived overseas because of a parent or partner’s government employment.

Filling in the online application form

Find roles that match your skills, then check if you’ve got all the essentials on the role profile. You can start searching for roles here.

Once you’re ready to apply, you’ll need to make an account, or log in if you’ve registered with us before. Your account means you can save draft applications and come back to them – you don’t have to complete it all in one session.

Next, we’ll ask you some pre-selection questions on whether you have the right to work in the UK. It’s important that you’re honest at this point, because the nature of the job means we can’t accept non-British Citizens. If this is discovered later in the process, we won’t be able to progress your application any further. Unfortunately, there aren’t any exceptions to that.

You’ll be asked for your name, address, and contact details. Because we have an anonymised approach to recruitment, all this detail is removed before your application is assessed – all the assessors will see is a reference number, to avoid any possible bias.

Next, we’ll ask you to detail the answer to two key areas. The first is to outline your interest in the role and the second is for you to demonstrate how you feel you meet the essential criteria we’ve advertised for the role, showing both your experience and your commitment to continually developing your skills.  You’ll then also upload your CV, so make sure you’ve prepared it in advance, with any personal data removed.

We’re a Disability Confident employer, so if you identify as having a disability, and you meet the minimum criteria for the role, then we’ll guarantee you an interview. All you have to do is let us know at this point. You can also use this space to let us know about any adjustments you’d like us to make – though don’t forget, you can also do this before you start your application, and you can find out about that here.

Next, we’ll ask you to confirm that you understand and agree to our privacy policy in how we store your data.

Now we’ll ask you a little about yourself, including your gender identity, ethnic origin, and more. These questions are purely for statistical purposes, so that we know whether we’re reaching a diverse audience, and won’t affect your application in any way.

Finally, you’ll review all your details and confirm that everything you’ve told us is accurate. If it’s not, you can go back and amend it, but otherwise, you’re ready to send your application.

If we’ve received your submission, the next screen will thank you for your application and tell you you’ve successfully applied – and we’ll be in touch after the role’s closing date. For what happens next, see the next section.

Did you know?

We have wellbeing rooms all over the world, as well as five facilities in the UK.
Even when you’re travelling regularly in your role, our wellbeing rooms overseas can help you find peace and calm.

Vetting

Something to know upfront: if your application is successful, you’ll need to be vetted, which means we’ll background check you for national security purposes. You can find out more here, but you might have a lot of questions about this, so let’s tackle some of the big ones:

No, you’ll only be vetted if you’ve been made a conditional offer of employment, and at that point we’ll ask you to fill in an online form to start the process, operated by UK Security Vetting (UKSV), which is part of the Ministry of Defence.

We work to protect government buildings and data, we are a secure organisation and all our employees hold security clearance. Security clearance enables us to give assurances to ourselves and our customers. Our value of being trusted is threaded through all that we do.

UKSV run the process independently from FCO Services, and they’ll be looking at both your character and your circumstances, to assess whether you’re right for this level of responsibility and see whether there are any causes for concern or things that could make you vulnerable. For instance, a history of debt caused by serious gambling could make you susceptible to bribery in post.

It depends on the role you’re applying for and the level of vetting you need.

For some roles, you’ll have a Security Check, or SC, where UKSV will look at your character and personal circumstances, starting with a written questionnaire.

For other roles, with a higher level of security clearance required, you’ll go through the most thorough method of security vetting: Developed Vetting, or DV. You’ll begin with a written questionnaire, then UKSV will complete criminal records and security service records checks, then you’ll also sit down with an interviewer who’ll ask questions to build up a complete picture of you.

It starts with making sure you’ve got all the right personal details ready to enter into the questionnaire. The United Kingdom Security Vetting body have put together documents to help you do that.

Guide for SC 

Guide for DV

A vetting interview will look in real detail at all aspects of your life: your family background, your relationships, habits, financial affairs, hobbies, travel, interests, etc. Some of the questions will feel very personal and intrusive, but it isn’t an interrogation and you haven’t done anything wrong: your interviewer will be checking whether you’re vulnerable to pressure.

UKSV are also looking for complete honesty. Your Vetting Officer will be highly experienced, and there’s nothing you could say that would shock or surprise them.

To find out more about vetting interviews, see the Ministry of Defence page here.

Vetting has to be thorough, so it can take time. We’ll keep in touch with you throughout the process, but it can take up to an average of one month for SC clearance, and an average of six months for DV clearance.

Hopefully that won’t happen, but if you do need to make a complaint about any part of the vetting process, you can do so here.

Civil Service Recruitment Principles

Our employees are Civil Servants and therefore recruiting into roles means that we appointing into the civil service. The Civil service recruitment principles guide our approach to recruitment and we’re monitored by the Civil Service Commission. All appointments have to be made on merit on the basis of fair and open competition. But what does that mean?

Based on the published job description, each position is offered to the person who matches the criteria best – and no-one is offered the role unless they’re competent to do it.

There’s no bias in our assessment of candidates: selection processes are objective, impartial, and consistent.

All our roles are advertised publicly, with the same access to information for every applicant – including the criteria, salary, and selection process details. Anyone interested must be allowed to apply.

You can find out about the Civil Service recruitment principles in full here. 

If at any point in your application, you need to make a complaint, you can do that here.

Join the talent pool

Want to join FCO Services but can’t find a role right now? Great news: you can join our talent pool. All you need to do is sign up and upload your CV. Then, if you match the specifications and qualifications for a job in the future, then you will be alterted to the opportunity being able to apply.

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