Skip to main content

Language: English / GĂ idhlig


Employee handbook

Recruiting for excellence


Recruiting for excellence - policy statement

We attach great importance to the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and our commitments form a central part of our working culture - embedded in our values about treating everyone with respect and dignity. We know that having a shared values base provides commonality, direction and ownership. That is why we use a values based recruitment approach to attract and select talented, high calibre people who share our values.

We want every contact candidates have with us to be a positive one – from the moment they read a well written and engaging job advert, to visiting Holyrood for a welcoming and robust interview; from timely assessment feedback to an effective induction. Above all, we want our new colleagues to feel excited about joining us!

Who is this policy for?

This policy covers all activities that form part of the recruitment and selection process and applies to all internal and external candidates who are applying for jobs with us. It is supported by a Manager's Toolkit and Guidance for Candidates containing procedural and best practice guidelines.

Why is this policy important?

We aim to provide Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) with high quality support to allow them to excel in their roles as parliamentarians and representatives. We want to constantly improve our performance, invest in our staff and plan for the future and deliver excellent resource management in line with our organisational values. Recruitment decisions, if made properly, can have a significant impact upon organisational capability and capacity. Having a strategic, professional approach to recruitment is essential in order to achieve this.

How will this be achieved?

We will source candidates from a wide selection pool in a way which is fair, cost-effective and supports the aims of our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. All appointments will be based on merit using fair and robust selection criteria. Our values of Stewardship, Inclusiveness, Excellence and Respect will be used throughout. This will ensure that we recruit people not only with the right skills, knowledge and experience but also with the right values to support effective team working in meeting our strategic priorities. To do this, we will provide training and support to colleagues involved in the recruitment process to ensure all decisions are based on objective criteria and to remove any bias.


We are proud to be an equal opportunities employer and are committed to building a workforce which reflects the diversity of the people of Scotland. We are a Disability Confident Leader employer, supporting disabled people by removing barriers and shortlisting disabled candidates who meet the minimum job criteria. We welcome applications from candidates who may wish to work flexibly, and will provide details of flexible working options for each advertised vacancy. Where certain groups of staff are underrepresented consideration will also be given to incorporating other ‘positive action’ initiatives into the recruitment and selection process, in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.

Who does what?

Each recruitment campaign will be designed to identify the best person for the job, in the most time and cost efficient way, without compromising on fairness or our commitment to having a diverse workforce.

Internal applicants are responsible for:

  • Discussing with their manager if they are applying for an internal position
  • Seeking their office head/team leader’s written confirmation that they meet the criteria for the job before submitting your application

Office heads/team leaders are responsible for:

  • Providing constructive feedback to internal applicants within their office/team against the criteria for the job, and supporting those applicants who meet the requirements
  • Taking into account operational realities, for instance if multiple team members apply for temporary vacancies but not all can be released

Managers are responsible for:

  • Managing recruitment campaigns and ensuring our recruitment principles are followed
  • Undertaking recruitment skills training and unconscious bias training
  • Writing Job Specifications which reflect the essential requirements of the job and considering whether there is an opportunity to address the skills and/or diversity mix within the team
  • Speaking to HR for advice and support
  • Gaining authorisation to fill the vacancy
  • Determining who else will be involved in the process
  • If the vacancy is temporary deciding how it will be filled
  • Deciding the advertising strategy including when to restrict advertising to internal only
  • Determining the methods of assessment to be used

People and Culture colleagues are responsible for:

  • Providing advice and guidance on all aspects of recruitment
  • Ensuring this Policy and supporting information is relevant and up to date
  • Participating in recruitment campaigns
  • Administering the process and communicating with candidates
  • Monitoring and reviewing our recruitment procedures to allow new ideas and methods to be incorporated.

How will we do this?

We will always ensure our selection criteria are fair, consistent and rigorous. Our Job Specifications detail the essential requirements of the role and includes things that are important to us, like our values and behaviours. This will be used to assess candidates throughout the recruitment process. Formal qualifications are only essential where the requirements of the position include a legal/award obligation for such qualifications or where it can be demonstrated that the qualification is required for competent job performance.

Advertising vacancies

We are committed to maintaining a balance between external recruitment and offering development opportunities for staff. We are also committed to ensuring transparency in our decision making and will consult the Parliamentary Trades Union Side (TUS) on all posts advertised.

Group Heads can approve a sideways move within their Group without the need for advertising the vacancy.

Permanent vacancies

Normally, all vacancies for permanent posts will be advertised both internally within the Scottish Parliament and externally. There may be occasions when we will restrict advertising to internal staff only, for example, redeploying an existing member of staff as a result of internal restructuring, or as part of our wider talent management strategy and Workforce Plans. Under redeployment, priority will be given to staff where there are extenuating circumstances. Individual circumstances will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis with support from managers, People and Culture, and the TUS.  Such cases will be assessed against fair criteria and evidence to ensure consistency and fairness across the organisation.  

All of our external adverts will be published, as a minimum, on our website and through a variety of other media depending on the role. Our adverts will:

  • Be inclusive and the content, tone, and language used will be accessible and reflect our aim to have a diverse workforce.
  • Promote the Scottish Parliament as a great place to work to enable us to attract and retain staff of the highest calibre.
  • Be cost effective.

Temporary vacancies

Temporary vacancies can provide an opportunity for our existing staff to develop and expand their skills. With that in mind, recruitment to temporary roles may be restricted to internal applicants in the first instance, by advertising or through the admin resourcing pool. Posts are advertised through the Corporate Bulletin. If the role requires particular specialist skills, knowledge or experience only to be found within the office or team it sits in, the manager may consider restricting the recruitment to within that team or office. Eligibility criteria will be published in any internal advert.

Alternatively, managers may advertise externally as a fixed term appointment, use the Talent Bank, seek a secondment or bring in an agency worker if the role is short term. This will depend on the circumstances, for instance how urgent the requirement is, how long it is for or whether there is an internal field.

There is no right to permanency through a temporary internal advert.

We welcome applications from candidates who may wish to work flexibly, and will provide details of flexible working options for each advertised vacancy.

Choosing the best candidate

The selection process is twofold – it allows us to select the right candidate and also enables the applicant to determine if the role and the Parliament is the right fit for them.

To ensure the best selection decision, a broad range of assessment methods will be used including a panel interview and values and skills-based tests or presentations. All recruitment panels will be gender balanced and we aim to ensure that panel membership is diverse in its views, opinions and experiences.

A lighter touch or more proportionate process may be used temporary vacancies, as appropriate, but at all times in a fair and transparent way.

Communicating the outcome

When the selection processes have been finalised all offers to candidates not already employed here will be conditional on completing all our pre-employment checks. This will include security vetting and seeking employment references before confirming offer of employment. We will also explore any adjustments your require before you start with us.

Other candidates who are considered suitable for appointment will be advised of this in writing and, with their agreement, we will retain their details on our Talent Bank for a period not exceeding 12 months.


We value the time and effort candidates invest in applying for our jobs. In return for this investment we will provide interviewees feedback on their strengths and suggestions for areas of improvement/development.

Monitoring and Reporting

All candidates will be asked to provide information on a voluntary basis for equality monitoring purposes. We will also monitor requests for flexible working, the diversity of our selection panels, and decisions to advertise internally or externally. This information will be reported in line with equalities legislative requirements and will be used to monitor and develop our diversity and inclusion action plan.

Record Keeping/Data Processing

For further details on how we will process your personal data please refer to the HR Employee Privacy Notice and Recruitment Privacy Notices on the Parliament’s website.

Induction and Career Development

Induction is the final stage of the recruitment process and all new and existing colleagues will be fully supported in their new role.

It doesn’t stop there. Through our inclusive talent management programmes, colleagues will be supported to develop new skills and encouraged to seek out new opportunities.

How to raise a concern

We want all our candidates to be treated with respect and feel good about the Parliament regardless of the outcome of their application. If you have a concern about the application of this policy you are encouraged to bring this to the attention of the Head of People Services and Diversity and Inclusion.

What further information is available?

You may find the following policies helpful: