Recruitment processes for "Senior Policy Advisors - Various Climate Change Posts" from June 2022: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

1. What were the circumstances that related to the cancelling of 12 posts advertised externally under the heading "Senior Policy Advisors - Various Climate Change Posts" reference 2022-2955, which closed to external applicants on 2 June 2022? What was the nature of the 'internal business review' that was stated as the reason to candidates? Why was this 'review' not foreseen while the job was still advertised or beforehand?

2. There was information following this that stated the recruitment had not been cancelled but was 'on hold' following a response from a candidate. Subsequent emails said that a response would be given to candidates on 8 July 2022. On 8 August 2022 candidates were again informed that the post was 'cancelled'. Was the post cancelled on 9 June 2022 and if so, why was incorrect information shared with candidates? It gives the impression that proper processes were not followed.

3. Are applications for this post still 'under review' as stated by the Scottish Government recruitment dashboard? And if so, what does 'under review' actually mean? Is this related to the internal business review or the candidates applications, given in good faith?

I also request information to address the following concerns raised in this FOI:

4. Assurance that internal and external recruitment and policies were followed according to legal requirements, on behalf of future applicants and in the interests of public interest to ensure recruitment practices are transparent and fair for all.

5. Information on the number of applicants that applied for the roles externally, and internally.

6. Of those who applied for the roles above, how many were interviewed (if any).

7. Whether the 12 posts were filled, and if so how many.

8. Of any of the 12 post filled, what proportion were filled by internal candidates and/or external candidates.

9. Request that application packs are made available via the Scottish Government dashboard. This is not available through the application portal and is not seemingly available via previous email correspondence.

10. Information, flowcharts, minutes, and/or notes relating to decision-making processes around the full timeline for this particular job vacancy, from conception to advertising vacancies, candidate selection and cancellation of the post.


1. The Scottish Government is reviewing its current and future workforce requirements for the period covered by the Resource Spending Review. We regularly review our workforce numbers to ensure affordability, and that the organisation is delivering for the people of Scotland as efficiently and effectively as possible. After the vacancy was advertised, recruitment controls were introduced on our recruitment activity, though new vacancies can be undertaken in exceptional circumstances. This is to ensure that any planned activity is aligned to the organisation’s longer term workforce plan. Vacancies that were currently in the recruitment process were, and continue to be, reviewed to assess need. As a result of the ongoing review, the decision was made that these 12 positions could not be filled by external candidates.

2. At all times the proper processes were followed. The vacancy was originally put on hold however due to an administrative error, an email was sent to state the vacancy was cancelled. The status was changed to being ‘on hold’ shortly thereafter as there was a potential that the vacancy would continue. However, the 12 positions could not be filled by external candidates and the email sent on the 8 August confirmed this final status.

3. “Under review” means that the vacancy has been closed for applications until a decision is made by the business. The vacancy is now showing on the dashboard as “unsuccessful” as the vacancy has been closed.

4. Scottish Government recruit in line with the Civil Service Commission Principles. More information can be found here: Recruitment Principles - Civil Service Commission (

5. 193 applications. 15 internal applications, 178 external applications.

6. 0 (no candidates were sifted or interviewed.)

7. 0

8. NA - 0 filled

9. All relevant information is in the job advert which applicants can self-save. In the candidate’s dashboard on the ATS the following advice is at the top of the page: “Please note: Once a job advert has closed, you will not be able to view the job description for the role. If you would like to keep a copy, please follow these instructions.”

10. The timeline of events regarding the management of this vacancy is as follows:

  • 5 May – Advert published on recruitment portal
  • 2 June – Advert closed for applications
  • 6 June – Candidates submitted to Hiring Manager for review but no action was taken
  • 7 June – Decision taken to pause recruitment exercise
  • 9 June – Candidates informed that the role was cancelled
  • 10 June – Candidates informed that the role was put on hold rather than cancelled
  • 8 August – Candidates informed that the role was cancelled

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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