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Information for Applicants


									                   Information for Applicants

 Important information and guidance about your application for
    a post within the Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO)

 This booklet has been designed to provide you with background information
          about the recruitment and selection process of the NIAO.

It also includes guidance on the completion of our application form, eligibility
           and shortlisting procedures, and criteria based interviews.

It is vital that you read this document before completing your application form.
                        All applicants are asked to sign their
                          understanding of this document.

 The NIAO offers challenging, interesting work with real job satisfaction in a diverse
  and rewarding environment. As a caring employer we provide attractive working
  conditions which include a generous leave allowance, flexible working patterns,
 opportunities for promotion, training and part-time working, where the needs of the
                                     Office permit.

                               The Merit Principle

                 Appointments to NIAO are made under the
                             ’merit principle’,
                 where the best person for any given post is
                   selected in fair and open competition.

1.   Your application            Job Specification
                                 Making an Application
                                 Eligibility / Shortlisting
                                 Advice on completing your application

2.   Selection and Appointment   Criteria Based Interviews
                                 Order of Merit

3.   Equal Opportunities         Policy Statement
                                 Monitoring Form

4.   NIAO Requirements           Nationality
                                 Vetting procedures

5.   General Information         Age
                                 Sickness Absence
                                 Contact details
1.       Your application

Job Specification
A Job Specification, providing details such as location, duties and responsibilities,
salary and annual leave etc. is included in each application pack. Candidates should
satisfy themselves that they are eligible to apply.

Making an Application
An application form is designed for each competition to ensure that applicants
provide the necessary information to determine how they meet NIAO requirements
and the eligibility/shortlisting criteria. Please note:

     •   The space available on the application form is the same for all applicants.
     •   To ensure equality of opportunity we will not accept CVs, letters, additional
         pages or any other supplementary material in place of, or in addition to
         completed application forms.
     •   Applicants must complete the application form in either black Typescript,
         font size 12 or legible, block capitals using black ink.
     •   Applicants must not reformat the electronic application forms.
     •   Applications will not be examined by NIAO until after the closing deadline.
     •   Information in support of your application will not be accepted after the closing
         deadline for receipt of applications.

We will reject incomplete or reformatted application forms and application forms
received after the closing deadline. Applicants using Royal Mail should note that 1st
class mail does not guarantee next day delivery. It is the responsibility of the
applicant to ensure that sufficient postage has been paid to return the form to NIAO.
We will not accept any application where we are asked to pay any shortfall in
postage. Applicants who send their application form electronically are also required
to meet the closing deadline for receipt in this office. Please note that the time of
receipt will be defined by the Recruitment Service server not the time and date sent.

Disability adjustments

We will ask on the application form if you require any reasonable adjustments, due to
disability, to enable you to attend an aptitude test or interview. Details of any
disability are only used for this purpose and do not form any part of the selection
process. If you wish to discuss your disability requirements further, please contact
Central Services Branch on 028 9025 1100.
Employment History & Eligibility / Shortlisting Criteria
Only the details provided by you in Part 2 of the application form (the Employment
History & Eligibility / Shortlisting Criteria) will be provided to the selection panel for
the purpose of determining your eligibility for the post. Should shortlisting be
introduced, these details will determine the progress of your application through to
interview stage.

Advice on completing your application form
In completing your form you must if required provide details of:

QUALIFICATIONS: - Relevant or equivalent qualifications: type of
qualification & date awarded (the date awarded is the date on which you were
notified of your result by the official awarding body). If you believe your qualification
is equivalent to the one required, the onus is on you to provide the panel with details
of modules studied etc so that a well informed decision can be made.

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: length of experience giving examples and dates as
required. The selection panel will be interested in whom you reported to, what you
did and how successful you were. It is not sufficient to simply list your duties and

If you do not provide sufficient detail, including the appropriate dates needed to meet
the eligibility / shortlisting criteria, in this part of your application form, the selection
panel will reject your application.

NIAO may decide to interview only those applicants who appear, from the information
available, to be most suitable in terms of relevant experience and ability. It is
therefore essential that applicants fully describe in the application form how they
meet the experience and qualities sought. It is not appropriate simply to list the
various posts that an applicant has held. NIAO will not make assumptions from the
title of the applicant’s post or the nature of the organisation as to the skills and
experience gained.

   •   Do not use acronyms, complex technical detail etc. Write for the reader who
       may not know your employer, your branch or your job. Include concise
       examples and be sure you can expand on these at interview.

   •   Write down clearly your personal involvement in any experience you quote.
       Write “I” statements e.g. I planned meetings, I managed a budget, I prepared
       a presentation. It is how you actually carried out the piece of work that the
       panel will be interested in.

   •   Identify relevant examples – This is very important as the examples which you
       provide may be checked out at interview and you may need to be prepared to
       talk about these in detail if you are invited to interview. It is your unique role
       the panel are interested in, not that of your team or division.
2.        Selection and Appointment

Criteria Based Interviews

The Qualities and Skills required for a post are determined by the Interview
Assessment Criteria (IAC) listed in the Job Specification. If invited to interview you
will be required to demonstrate how you meet the IAC – giving specific examples –
the examples may be from employment, education or other interests but MUST
demonstrate how you satisfy the criteria. The interview will be based on solely on the
IAC. Selection panels will design questions to test the applicant’s knowledge and
experience in each area and award marks accordingly.

Order of Merit
The Selection Panel will assess all the applicants based on performance at interview
and award each individual a unique score. The panel will then list the applicants ‘in
order of merit’ with the highest scoring applicant ranked first. NIAO will allocate
vacancies to these applicants in the order listed.

Before an appointment can be made it may be necessary to have a medical
examination carried out by the Occupational Health Service to determine any
adjustments that may be required to the workplace.

3.       Equal Opportunities

NIAO Policy Statement on Equal Opportunities

The Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) is committed to the promotion of equality of

It is our policy to provide employment equality to all, irrespective of:

     •    gender, marital or family status;
     •    religious belief or political opinion;
     •    disability;
     •    race or ethnic origin;
     •    nationality;
     •    sexual orientation;
     •    age.

We are opposed to all forms of unlawful and unfair discrimination. All employees and
job applicants (actual or potential) will be treated fairly and selection for employment,
promotion, training or any other benefit will be on the basis of ability, qualifications
and aptitude for the work.

We recognise that the provision of equality of opportunity in the workplace is not only
good management practice, it also makes sound business sense. This policy will
help all employees to develop their full potential and the talents and resources of the
workforce will be fully utilised to maximise the efficiency of the Office.

We are committed to:

     •   preventing any form of direct or indirect discrimination or victimisation;
     •   promoting equal opportunities for men and women;
     •   promoting equal opportunities for people of all religions and none;
     •   promoting equal opportunities for people with disabilities;
     •   promoting equal opportunities for ethnic minorities;
     •   promoting equal opportunities for people of different sexual orientation;
     •   promoting a good and harmonious working environment where all
         employees are treated with respect and dignity and in which no form of
         intimidation or harassment will be tolerated;
     •   fulfilling all legal obligations under the relevant legislation and associated
         Codes of Practice.

Breaches of our equal opportunity policy will be regarded as misconduct and could
lead to disciplinary proceedings.

This policy is fully supported by Management and has been agreed with Trade Union

A copy of the NIAO Equal Opportunities Policy can be obtained from the NIAO
website at or by telephoning the NIAO’s Equal
Opportunities Officer on 028 9025 1031.

Monitoring Form

The Northern Ireland Audit Office monitors applications for employment in terms of
Community Background, Sex, Disability and Race. You should note that this
information is regarded as part of your application and failure to fully complete
and return this part of your application will result in disqualification. The use
and confidentiality of Community Background information is protected by the Fair
Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998. It will be used only for
monitoring, investigations or proceedings under the requirements of the above

Guidance Notes in Completing the Disability section of your equal
opportunities monitoring form - (please ensure you read this section carefully
before completing this section of your monitoring form)

The Disability Discrimination Act defines disability as a physical or mental impairment
which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out
normal day to day activities.

A long term effect of an impairment is one which has lasted, or can reasonably be
expected to last at least 12 months. Where an impairment stops having a substantial
adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, it will be
treated as continuing to have that effect if it is likely to recur.
Apart from the use of spectacles or contact lenses to correct sight, the effect of
treatment or correction on an impairment should be ignored. For example, in the
case of someone with diabetes, whether or not the effect is substantial will depend
on what the condition would be if he or she was not taking medication.

The guidance which follows contains examples of conditions which might give rise to
particular categories of disability. You may feel that the suggested category is
inappropriate in your case. For example, you may have a condition which is shown
here as being likely to give rise to physical coordination difficulties, whereas in your
opinion the resultant disability is more appropriately described under reduced
physical capacity. In such cases you should choose the category which seems most
suitable to you.

Hearing impairment: For example, being deaf or hard of hearing. If you wear a
hearing aid which brings your level of hearing to a par with the average you are still
considered to have a disability.

Visual impairment: For example, being registered blind or partially sighted. If your
sight is corrected by the use of spectacles or contact lenses this is not considered a

Speech impairment: For example, being unable to speak, or having difficulty in

Mobility impairment: For example, being able to walk only limited distances; having
difficulty walking other than slowly or with unsteady or jerky movements; having
difficulty sitting, standing, bending or reaching; having difficulty climbing stairs, or
using a normal means of transport; needing to use a walking stick, crutches or

Physical coordination difficulties: This relates to balanced and effective interaction
of body movement, including hand and eye coordination, and might include, for
example, problems of manual dexterity and of muscular control, e.g. incontinence,
epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease.

Reduced physical capacity: This includes debilitating pain and lack of strength,
breath, energy or stamina, such as might arise, for example, from cardiovascular
conditions, asthma, diabetes. It may also result from progressive conditions, e.g.
muscular dystrophy, cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS. (The DDA provides for
people with these progressive conditions to be regarded as having a disability as
soon as impairment arising from the condition has some effect on the ability to carry
out normal day-to-day activities. The effect does not have to be continuous or

Severe disfigurement: Examples of disfigurements include scars, birthmarks, limb
or postural deformation or diseases of the skin. A tattoo is not considered as a
severe disfigurement.

Learning difficulties: For example, reading or writing with difficulty. Includes the
mental inability to perceive physical danger.
Mental illness:     For example, having schizophrenia, clinical depression, severe

4.      NIAO Requirements

We must ensure that you are legally entitled to work in the United Kingdom. We will
ask you to provide evidence of your nationality

Vetting procedures
There are 4 different levels of vetting as follows;

1.      Basic Check

You will be required to provide:

     (a) your passport or
     (b) a document verifying your permanent national insurance number (e.g. P45,
         P60, National Insurance card) and your birth certificate which includes the
         names of your parents (long version).
     (c) other acceptable documents are listed on Should
         you require any assistance, please contact the Customer Service officer at the
         address shown at the end of this document.

In addition to the above, everyone is required to provide photographic identification
and verification of address.

We will carry out a Criminal Record Check on all applicants. You should not put off
applying for a post because you have a conviction. We deal with all criminal record
information in a confidential manner, and information relating to convictions is
destroyed after a decision is made. Criminal Record information is subject to the
provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders (NI) Order 1978.

2.     Counter Terrorist Check
As at 1 plus a check of Security Service records.

3.     Security Check
As at 2 plus a credit reference check.

4.     Developed Vetting
As at 3 plus subject interview and field investigation.

The Basic Check is sufficient for the majority of posts in the NIAO. If the post
for which you have applied requires a higher level of vetting, i.e. 2, 3, or 4, we
will notify you accordingly.

It is NIAO policy that ALL candidates invited to attend for interview bring sufficient
documentation to satisfy the Nationality and Vetting requirements and evidence of
appropriate qualification(s) if necessary. Further details regarding acceptable
documentation will be issued with an invitation to attend for interview.
You should ensure that these documents are readily available.

5.     General Information


Appointments to the NIAO may be made up to the compulsory retirement age of 65.

If the successful candidate is currently a member of PCSPS (N.I.) and transfers to
the new post without break of service their current civil service pension status will still

A new entrant to the NIAO may join the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (NI)
which offers the choice between two pension arrangements:-

       (A)    Membership of premium, a final salary occupational pension scheme
              with a 3.5% member contribution rate; or

       (B)    A partnership pension account, a stakeholder pension with an
              employer contribution based on the staff member’s age. It is not
              compulsory to contribute, but if this option is taken, your employer will
              also match contributions paid up to 3% of pensionable pay.

The successful candidate will be automatically entered into the premium scheme on
appointment. However, should the appointee choose to take the partnership
pension account he/she will have 3 months in which to make this choice, and this
will be backdated to the start date. If a choice is not registered within 3 months, the
staff member will remain a member of the premium scheme.
It is not compulsory to join the Civil Service Pension arrangements; the staff member
may opt out and be covered instead by a personal pension or the State Second
Pension Scheme (S2P).

Members may also consider taking out an ordinary stakeholder pension in order to
top up occupational pension benefits. Standard Life is the designated stakeholder
pension provider for the Northern Ireland Civil Service. It is not compulsory to
contribute to a stakeholder pension, nor to use the Civil Service designated provider,
but if a designated provider is selected the facility is available to make contributions
to Standard Life through payroll if the staff member chooses. The employer will not
make any contributions towards the pension.

Contact details
      Northern Ireland Audit Office
         106 University Street
                BT7 1EU

Tel: 028 9025 1100   Fax: 028 9025 1106


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