Selection Process

The selection process for the GDP is highly competitive due to the number and quality of the applicants. This year we won’t stray too far from what we know, but some things have changed to offer candidates an improved and safer experience during this challenging time. But don’t worry – we want everyone to perform at their best. For each stage of the selection process we will send out a candidate guide to help you prepare and demonstrate your potential.

In the meantime, please check out our pre application assessment guidance. This will give you an overview of the selection process, some examples from our 2019 process, and some of the changes we have made.

Before you apply...

Before you apply please try the GDP Preview Quiz. This should give you a good indication of whether or not you would enjoy being part of the programme!


If you haven’t done so already, you will need to create a profile on the Work for Scotland website to apply for the Graduate Development Programme.

Applications are now closed. Before you apply we highly recommend reading our application guide ahead of time. This will help make sure that completing the form is fast and simple, as not all sections need to be completed.

Selection Process for 2021

There are three stages to this years selection process. All stages will be completed online via a secure platform which is hosted by our recruitment partner Capita.

Stage One – (Early March 2021) – Situational Judgement test, Numerical and Verbal Reasoning tests

This is a change to the 2021 campaign and designed to improve your experience. Eligible candidates will now be invited to sit all three tests in early March. Key things to know:

  •  All tests are done online
  • You won’t have to do all the tests in one sitting.
  • You do have to start and finish a test in one sitting

More information on the tests can be found in our pre application assessment guidance.

Stage Two – (Anticipating end of April to early May) – Assessment Centre

This year we are changing how the assessment centre runs to keep you safe. Traditionally we would offer a face to face experience but that’s not possible at this moment in time. So we will be running the assessment centre virtually. This requires some thought, so we will release more information ahead of time to candidates invited to the assessment centre.

In the meantime, we can tell you that the format of the assessment centre has been altered and it has now been split in two. Candidates will need to pass the assessment centre exercises in order to be invited to a final interview. To give you an idea of what the exercises look like, the GDP assessment centre in 2019 consisted of the following elements:

  • Group exercise
  • Briefing exercise

You can find example questions here.

Stage Three – from early May – Final Interview

The interview is the final stage of assessment.  If you pass the assessment centre exercises you will be invited to an interview with two panel members. This is your chance to tell us about yourself and talk candidly about your abilities and achievements from whichever aspect of your life you consider most relevant.

Reasonable Adjustments

We want to make sure that the practicalities of the process don’t get in the way of anyone being able to show their full potential. Therefore if you require any reasonable adjustments you’ll be invited to come and talk to us about what you need to perform at your best. You’ll be given a single point of contact, who will support you through the full selection process.

Reasonable adjustments will be agreed with you before each stage of the process. We can make a range of provisions for the online tests and the assessment centre. Adjustments will be bespoke to your needs, so just get in touch and we can discuss what’s right for you.

Inclusion and diversity

The Scottish Government believes a diverse workforce has a positive impact on our work and by valuing diverse perspectives, we can better serve the people of Scotland. In order to ensure we treat people fairly, irrespective of their background, we ask all applicants to complete a short diversity questionnaire.

We welcome applications from all suitably qualified people and aim to employ a diverse workforce which reflects the people of Scotland. We particularly welcome applications from groups currently under-represented in Scottish Government, including ethnic minority and disabled applicants and those who have experienced socio-economic disadvantage.

Furthermore, we have a range of activities which promote diversity within our workforce. You can find out more about the actions we have been taking to remove the barriers to success for our underrepresented groups in our mainstreaming report.

Nationality Requirements

This job is broadly open to the following groups:

  • UK nationals
  • nationals of Commonwealth countries who have the right to work in the UKs
  • nationals of the Republic of Ireland
  • nationals from the EU, EEA or Switzerland with (or eligible for) status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
  • relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals working in the Civil Service
  • relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals who have built up the right to work in the Civil Service
  • certain family members of the relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals


We strongly urge that EU nationals who may not have Settled or Pre-Settled Status make an application before 30 June 2021, to ensure their continued  eligibility to employment.

Discover more!

Find out more about…

  • What we are looking for, in the about you page.
  • The Scottish Government and the Civil Service, in the about us page.
  • Discover the programme through the words of our graduates, in the people stories page
  • A typical day on the programme, in the a day in the life page

Try out…

  • The GDP Preview Quiz This should give you a good indication of whether or not you would enjoy being part of the programme!