Recruitment process for social workers
Our recruitment promise
We set and maintain high standards for our recruitment and selection processes, ensuring they are fair, objective and inclusive. We also want this to be an experience we go through with you, not something we do to you because creating a collaborative, supportive environment not only reflects our ethos but gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your strengths, experience and values.
Our Resourcing Team will ensure your application is dealt with efficiently and confidentially and your information will remain secure at all times in accordance with all relevant legislation.
As part of your application, you are invited to indicate if you have a disability. If you have a disability, we hope you will feel confident enough to let us know. If you indicate a disability, we will contact you to invite you to provide us with further information to help us understand what, if any, reasonable adjustments you may require so you are not disadvantaged.
We want to assure you our Resourcing Team will not share information about your disability (or any other sensitive information, including responses to equality, diversity and inclusion questions) with recruiting managers until required (i.e. you’re your application is progressed and reasonable adjustments are needed). However, if you make reference to your disability either in your CV and/or any answers to application questions, we are unable to restrict what Managers will have access to.
It is our commitment that candidates who indicate a disability and meet the essential criteria for the role they have applied for are guaranteed to have their application progressed to the next stage.
Our recruitment process
We are passionate about providing a quality service to vulnerable children and families. So, it will not surprise you we want to recruit people who share our passion and commitment. Our recruitment processes, as well as being fair to all, are designed to help your passion, strengths, values and expertise come to the fore.
We see the recruitment process as very much two-way. We want to ensure we recruit the right individuals, but also for you to have the confidence to accept because you see it as right for you professionally and personally.
Finding a role and completing your application
Once you have found a role that interests you on our vacancies page, you can start our short and simple online application process.
Your application is a key part of our recruitment process as it introduces you to us. Therefore, while we’ve made it simple to apply, take some time to ensure your CV is current and reflects your experience and achievements relevant to the role.
Similarly, if there are questions that allow for free text responses, use the opportunity to give detailed, insightful responses. You don’t need to complete and submit your application in one visit, you can start and go back and submit later, giving you time to modify your responses or refine your CV. Just be aware of the closing date and ensure you submit before this date.
To apply, you will need to create and verify an account on our application system. If you have a Facebook, LinkedIn or Google account you can use this to quicken the process further or simply use your email address. As part of your application, you can set up email alerts so that you can automatically be informed of other opportunities with us that might interest you.
After we receive your application, the recruitment team complete an initial high-level review to ensure it is appropriate to forward your application to relevant managers. If so, the recruitment team complete a more detailed review to decide which candidates they want to progress to the next stage.
We use a variety of assessment methods, including:
- Initial interviews - normally quite informal, maybe 1-2-1 basis, used primarily to help us to further our knowledge of you and for candidates to ask key questions and enhance their understanding of the role / team / organisation.
- Assessments / exercises – sometimes we may use general assessments (e.g. verbal reasoning) or they may be role-specific.
- Panel interviews – most of the time, this is the final stage and would see 2-4 interviewers, potentially including a Family Justice Young People's Board (FJYPB) member. As well as relevant interview questions, it may include additional elements like a presentation.
Where possible we will give an overview of the selection process within vacancy adverts, alongside indicative timescales.
Our initial offer and pre-employment checks
If you accept an offer to join us, our Resourcing Team arranges a ‘welcome call’. During this call they give you more insight into what needs to be done and by when to enable us to move things forward. You will also receive an offer letter setting out the key details of our offer.
All offers are conditional and subject to satisfactory pre-employment checks but once these are complete and a start date is agreed, we issue you with your employment contract.
Our pre-employment checks consist of the following:
References, qualifications and professional memberships
You will need to provide at least two referees that should cover a minimum three-year employment period. One of these must be your current or most recent employer. If you have just left full-time education, one of your referees could be your course tutor. You would need to gain your referees permission before we contact them. We will not contact your referees without your permission.
We will also need to verify your qualifications and professional memberships, which may require us to see original documents.
If you are offered a role with us, you will be required to complete a medical questionnaire. This may lead to us asking you to attend a medical assessment to ensure you are fit to carry out the duties of the post.
Right to work in the UK / Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Disclosure
We will guide you through the process of confirming you have the right to work in the UK. Increasingly this is a digital process although there are instances that require us to see original documents.
As you will be working closely with children and young people in a position of trust, most of our roles require a satisfactory Enhanced DBS Disclosure before you can start working for us. We comply fully with the DBS Code of Practice and will not discriminate unfairly against anyone on the basis of conviction or other information revealed.
Social Work Community
If you are looking for a social work role but there is not currently a role that interests you, you can register your future interest to join us. This allows us to potentially contact you if a suitable vacancy occurs, plus if you were interested in having an informal conversation with a manager ahead of there being a vacancy, we could look to facilitate this.
Hints and tips
- Read any supporting documents such as job description and person specification. You may also want to spend some time looking elsewhere on this website to further your understanding of the organisation.
- Be aware of - and ensure you meet - any minimum eligibility criteria such as qualifications and professional registration before applying.
- Make sure that you complete all relevant sections of the application and submit it before the closing date.
- Take some time to update and tailor your CV to make it relevant to the role.
- Tell us about your skills and experience and why you are interested in joining us.
- Be honest – make sure that the information you provide is accurate.
- Tell us about any requirements or reasonable adjustments that you need to fully participate in the selection process.
- Leave gaps in your employment history. If you have had any gaps in your employment, please include a short explanation.
- Leave out any relevant experience, even if this has been gained in voluntary or unpaid work – it may be important to the role you are applying for.
- Worry if your qualifications have been gained abroad. Include them in your application and we will check out whether they are relevant.
If you are not successful but would like constructive feedback on your performance during the recruitment and selection process, please ask. We also welcome your opinion and feedback on our recruitment process, including written materials and online guidance.
Frequently asked questions
How long does the recruitment process take?
As a guide, if you were to apply and were successful, we endeavour to complete this process to the point of offer within approximately four weeks.
When can I expect to hear from you after my application has been submitted?
Whilst we will try and get in touch with you as quickly as we can after you apply, as we typically advertise vacancies for 2-3 weeks, if you happen to apply toward the beginning of the application window, we cannot make any final decisions until we have reviewed all applications, which is likely to be a few days after the closing date.
How/where will interviews take place?
Initial interviews are often via telephone although these might take place online using Microsoft Teams.
We also use Teams for many of our final interviews/assessments. However, we also know there can be a great benefit to both interviewers and interviewees to meet in person so interviews may take place at one of our 30+ offices across England.
When will interviews/assessment take place?
Most of our vacancy adverts include a timeline that we aim to work towards. Sometimes we give specific dates if we can, otherwise it might be a range of dates.
What if I cannot make the stated interviews/assessments dates?
Do not let this discourage you from applying and perhaps include a note/comment within your application to let us know. We will always try to be flexible and accommodate people although you will appreciate we have to balance this with the potential impact on other applicants and our need to try and complete the process as efficiently as we can.
Why are their two salary values on your adverts?
We operate a simple pay structure where each salary band has only two salary points; a ‘commencement’ and a higher ‘target’ salary.
If you join at commencement, subject to satisfactory performance you can expect to progress to target after no more than 18 months in post.
If offered target salary, then we may ask you for evidence of your previous earnings to support this. We will provide further information on this if this is relevant to you.
In addition to salary, we offer a range of financial and non-financial benefits and further information is detailed on our working for us pages and within our vacancies. If you have any specific questions around this that you would like to know more about, please feel free to either refer to this in your application or ask us about this at the first opportunity.
Do you offer any financial incentives to join Cafcass?
On occasions, we may offer an incentive for specific vacancies. If this applies, it is clearly stated in the advert. Further information regarding payment frequency and the conditions attached to such payments will be communicated as part of any formal offer to you.
How long will it take to apply?
In terms of our system, we anticipate most applications can be done comfortably within 5-10 minutes, depending on your preparedness.
We purposefully keep application forms as short as possible and allow you to upload your CV. We try to make the questions we ask as quick and easy as we can to answer (i.e. yes/no questions or select answer from list). However, we encourage you to take advantage of opportunities to give more detailed information, whether this is in your responses to open questions or providing a supporting statement. This can help you make sure your application really stands out.
Similarly, make sure your CV is up-to-date and reflects the skills and experience we are looking for in the role for which you are applying. You can identify these from the job description / person specification.
How can I apply?
We only accept applications online, not by email. This is mainly because a) it ensures we receive your application and process it fairly, and b) by applying online you can view and accept relevant privacy statements about how we will process and manage your data.
You need to have an account on our recruitment system using either an email address or by using your Facebook, LinkedIn or Google profile. Once you have set-up your account, you will be able to monitor and manage your application. For example, you will be able to withdraw your application, book / view interview details, and access relevant documents. You will also be able to set-up and manage email vacancy alerts, delete your account, and raise subject access requests.
If for any reason you cannot apply online due to accessibility issues and there is not someone who can support you with this, then please get in touch and we will try to help you.
Can I talk to someone about a vacancy I am interested in?
There is a lot of information on this website that might answer some of your questions but we understand a conversation with either a member of our recruitment team or the recruiting manager, prior to applying, can help you decide whether to apply.
On many of our adverts, we include an email address for a named contact so you can send an email with your contact details and best days/times to be contacted. If there isn’t a named contact, this is normally because we anticipate a lot of interest and there is a risk we will not be able to respond to requests before the deadline.
If there is not a named contact or if you have got in touch but not heard back and the application deadline is imminent, please apply before the vacancy closes. If you have any specific questions, you could include these in your application and as the initial interview is quite informal, it is likely these could be addressed at this stage.
Can I change my application after I have submitted it?
Unfortunately, once you have submitted your application you cannot change it. It is worth noting that you can start your application, save it and come back to it and make changes either to your responses or your CV before you submit. If you do start an application, you will automatically get reminder emails to complete your application by the deadline.
Will you acknowledge receipt of my application?
You will see an on-screen confirmation that your application has been submitted, receive an email (please keep an eye on your junk / spam) and you will also be able to login to your candidate account to view your application and its status.
Will I get informed the outcome of my application even if not successful
Yes, you will always be informed of the outcome. The method of contact is likely to reflect the stage in the process your application reaches. If we do not progress your initial application then this is likely to be via email (check junk / spam) whereas if you reach the final interview / assessment stage it is more likely to be by telephone.
Can I apply for multiple roles?
We understand that with flexible working this can mean you are able to consider roles not in your immediate vicinity meaning you might be interested in more than one vacancy at any time. If this applies to you, then we encourage you to apply for whichever roles interest you.
If you apply for two or more vacancies but for the same role such as a Family Court Adviser then, if possible, we will try to manage your interest in those roles in a joined-up manner to avoid duplicating steps. Of course, if they are two (or more) different roles then each will have its own separate process.
If you do apply for a role quite far away from your home address, our Resourcing Team may contact you to clarify and confirm your interest in the opportunity.
What if I have a technical issue applying?
Our recruitment system is provided by an external provider and therefore if you have a system/technical issue, please contact them on [email protected] with as much information as you can. You may need to provide your email address, vacancy reference number/title, and any relevant screenshots. They will be able to support you.
While we hope you do not have any technical issues, they do happen from time to time and so we encourage all applicants to try and avoid submitting their applications at the last minute. This means that in the event of a problem hopefully everything can be resolved before the deadline passes.
What is the selection process?
The stages will depend on the role you have applied for as well as dates. Adverts will typically indicate what the process will be. But whatever the process, the aim will be to give you the opportunity to demonstrate you have the experience, skills and values required to undertake the role.
As a guide, you may be asked to participate/attend/complete some of the following:
- An initial interview perhaps for 20-30 minutes on a one-to-one basis. The aim for us will be to find out more about you, your career to date and to understand your motivation in applying for the role and join us. It is also an opportunity for you to ask us questions and to find out more about the role and our organisation.
- A one-way video interview which is where we ask you to access a secure portal and record responses to some key questions for our recruiting managers to review.
- An online assessment such as verbal/numerical reasoning, a situational judgement exercise, a specific skills exercise or perhaps a personality assessment.
- A role-based exercise that simulates a task or situation that you may have to complete or manage in the role.
- A relevant group exercise alongside other applicants.
- A final interview/assessment with a panel of interviewers likely to be made up of two to four people. In some cases, the interview panel may also include a Family Justice Young People Board member.
- The final assessment may also include a presentation or other exercise that will be completed either before or after the interview element.
How will I book interviews?
Sometimes, we may allocate you a specific interview date / time – we will liaise with you first to ensure you are available – or quite often, we invite applicants to book their interview from specific slots on a first come, first serve basis online via your candidate account.
If there are relevant documents that we think you either need to have access to such as a presentation brief or just information you might want to refer to such as the job description, these will be shared with you via email and also be made available in your candidate account.
What if I cannot attend any of the offered interview slots?
Get in touch with the member of the Resourcing team who is managing the vacancy indicating when you will be available. If we can identify an alternative date/time that suits all concerned and within an acceptable timescale, then we will arrange this. However, there may come a point where we have to accept it is not possible to arrange an interview with you and we may have to continue the recruitment process without you as delaying may unfairly impact other applicants.
What if I cannot attend my interview?
Please let us know as soon as possible. If you remain interested in the role but it is just that you cannot attend, please liaise with our Resourcing team about making alternative arrangements.
What should I do to prepare for an interview?
As a minimum, we encourage you to read and understand the job description and person specification. These are normally shared with you again prior to interview and are also available within your candidate account online.
For the roles we most regularly recruit to, such as Family Court Advisers, as well as information within this section of our website, you may also benefit from looking at the resources we make available on the website for professionals. If you know people who work for us – or who have worked with us in the past – then a conversation with them may be helpful. If not, think about what other research you can do to develop your understanding of the organisation and the role for which you are being interviewed.
Whilst you may not be able be guess what specific questions you are asked, you can probably anticipate the general experience, skills and behaviours that we will exploring with you. Therefore, you may benefit from allocating some time to think about this and thinking about examples or situations from your career to date that might be relevant, or just generally thinking about how you might respond to such a question.
We understand that no matter how much we try to put people at ease, being interviewed can make you nervous. If you are someone that has previously struggled with interviews, then being prepared may help reduce the nerves a little. For example, you might ask friends / family to ask you questions, listen to your answers and give you general feedback. Or maybe you could record yourself and review how you think you came across.
However, if this is something you have really struggled with in the past, then think about the things you can do in the lead up to the interview such as eating healthily, staying hydrated, setting yourself up for getting a good night’s sleep, meditating, listening to music, or undertaking physical exercise.
No matter how prepared you are, you are still likely to be nervous. And feeling nervous can be a good thing, because you can harness this energy to positively improve your interview performance.
Can I refer to notes?
Yes, you are more than welcome to refer to any notes that you have made in preparation. However, we encourage applicants to be selective about how they use notes. Sometimes, people can end up reading them and this can mean they disengage with the panel. Furthermore, by relying too much on notes it can be easy to forget to actually answer the question asked.
I have a disability - will you make reasonable adjustments to the process? And how will you know I need them?
As part of your application, you are invited to indicate if you have a disability. If this applies to you, we hope you will feel confident enough to let us know. If you indicate you have a disability, we will contact you to invite you to provide us with further information and help us understand what, if any, reasonable adjustments you may require so that you are not disadvantaged. Any information about an applicant’s disability will only be shared with recruiting managers at a point in the process where it is necessary.
It is also our policy that candidates indicating a disability who also meet the criteria for the role they are applying for, are guaranteed to have their application progressed to the next stage of the progress.
What happens next after I have been offered the role?
Once our Resourcing team have been notified by the recruiting manager, a member of our team will get in touch to arrange to speak to you, either on the telephone or via Teams. The purpose of this call is to talk you through the next steps and answer any questions that you may have. We aim for this to take place within five working days of learning you will be joining us. This is an important step, so ensuring you are available to speak with us will be very helpful.
How long after I have verbally accepted an offer to join Cafcass will I receive my written offer?
We know that you will be excited to join us and receiving your formal offer will be a key milestone in making that happen. We will try to get this to you as quickly as we can and generally this will be within 5-7 working days of the recruiting manager confirming your acceptance and providing all the necessary information for us to generate your offer. We will probably be able to update you on when you will receive your offer when you speak with our Resourcing team (see above).
When should I resign from my current role?
We know you probably cannot wait to get started and we are looking forward to you starting with us. All offers of employment are subject to pre-employment checks, so when to resign from your current role must be your decision. If you decide to resign before checks are complete for example, upon receipt of our formal offer, then we will work closely with you to make sure everything is done as quickly as possible.
What pre-employment checks do you do? And how long do they take?
First of all, we have to see and copy documents to prove that you are eligible to work in the United Kingdom. We will also request an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. Unless you are on the DBS Update Service, we will apply for a new check, irrespective of the date of your last check.
We need at least two references covering a minimum three years’ employment, including your current or most recent employment. However, occasionally we may seek references from further back than this either instead of, or as well as, those stated above. If you have any gaps in employment in this period, we may ask you for further information to substantiate this.
We also ask everyone to have an Occupational Health check. In the first instance, this requires new joiners to complete a medical questionnaire. It may be necessary as a follow-up to ask you to attend a medical assessment to ensure you are fit to carry out the duties of the post. We will provide more information about this if, and when, it is necessary.
Finally, we will also need to see evidence of relevant professional qualifications and memberships such as your social work qualifications and confirmation that you are registered with Social Work England.
What if I have concerns about the pre-employment checks?
We encourage you to be up front and honest with us about this. Please provide us with as much information as you can, and we will give you our view on whether it might be an issue. In many cases, there are steps we can take to gain any reassurances we may need.
For example, if one of your references was less than satisfactory, we might seek references going further back so that we have more information at our disposal. Similarly, if your DBS check identifies a conviction, caution, reprimand or final warning, it is not simply a case of withdrawing an employment offer. Any final decision would take into account the nature of the offence, timescales involved, the context and the work you would be doing for us.
How long do pre-employment checks take?
We are reliant on things somewhat outside of our control that make it difficult to put a definitive timescale on this. However, as a guide typically checks are completed within four to five weeks, especially where new joiners are responsive and provide us with the information we need. Our Resourcing Team will talk to you more about this.