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Want to stay on the right side of the law? We support businesses and public authorities and help them to promote good practice.

Application process

What you need to know

Should I use application forms for all recruitment exercises?

Yes, you should make, or be prepared to make, the forms available in a range of different formats as a reasonable adjustment to satisfy the needs of disabled applicants where appropriate. For example, making forms available in different font sizes or in Braille or audio formats.

It is good practice to draft a range of application forms that are each tailored for particular posts, containing questions that are relevant and necessary for assessing the selection criteria.

Review your standard application forms occasionally and update them to take account of any changes that you periodically might make to job descriptions and personnel specifications.

It is good practice to provide application packs that include:

  • a structured application form
  • a clear statement of the closing date for applications
  • the contact details of named individuals who will provide reasonable adjustments to applicants who may require them
  • copies of the relevant job description and personnel specification
  • a separate equal opportunities monitoring form

Can I include ‘monitoring’ questions on the application form?

No, application forms should not include any questions relating to religious belief; political opinion; race or ethnicity; nationality; marital, civil partnership or family status; sexual orientation. An exception to this recommendation might arise where you lawfully apply a genuine occupational requirement criterion in order to recruit a job-holder who has a particular attribute or status - see chapter 10A.5 of the Unified Guide to Promoting Equal Opportunities in Employment (pdf)

You should not include questions relating to age, date of birth and national insurance number, unless these are relevant to objectively justifiable job selection criteria.

When collecting information for equal opportunities monitoring purposes, use a separate monitoring questionnaire for which a separate envelope, marked ‘confidential’ has been be provided for responses.

Equal Opportunities Monitoring forms should never be provided to the members of the selection panel.


What considerations should I make for disabled applicants

Always remember that you may be under a duty to make reasonable adjustments for job applicants who have disabilities. This can mean changing how you normally do certain things in order to accommodate the needs of a disabled job applicant. The purpose is to remove disadvantages faced by disabled person that non-disabled persons do not typically face. This includes making changes to your job selection criteria, your interview arrangements, the physical features of your premises and so on. This duty is a legal requirement - see the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

Add a section to your application forms that invites disabled applicants to notify you about any special arrangements that they may require as part of the recruitment process.

For example, an applicant might suggest certain arrangements that will help them to attend a job interview. Such a question is also likely to help you to implement any positive action programmes for disabled persons that you are taking, such as a ‘guaranteed interview scheme’.


Recruiting People With Disabilities

We have produced new guidance on recruiting people with disabilities. This includes useful information about the reasonable adjustment duty, good practice and taking positive action. Read our guidance


What about health or medical history?

Do not place questions about job applicants’ health or medical history in the application form. You may seek and consider such information in appropriate circumstances.

Closing date considerations

Keep the ‘application period’; i.e. the period from the publication of the advertisement to the closing date for submitting applications, open for a reasonable length of time.

What is reasonable will depend on the particular circumstances of each exercise, but it is good practice to plan recruitment exercises so that the “application period” will be around 3 weeks long. Such a period will usually meet the needs of both the applicants and the employer.

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