Introduction to this document

Application form

Only seek personal information on an application form that is relevant to the recruitment decision. Our application form ensures you ask all the right questions.

Of relevant application

If you require candidates to fill in an application form rather than send in their CV, be careful what questions you ask. Only request information that is relevant to the performance of the job, for example, details of the candidate’s education, qualifications, work experience and skills, and do not ask for information which indicates an intention on your part to unlawfully discriminate on any of the prohibited grounds (race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, pregnancy or maternity, married or civil partnership status, age and disability), for example, requesting that the candidate provide their date of birth, details of their children or a photograph. Our Application Form is a useful precedent for your use.

Ill health

Under the Equality Act 2010, it is no longer permissible to ask questions about a candidate’s health (including whether they have a disability) before offering them work or, where you are not in a position to offer them work immediately, before including them in a pool of persons to whom you intend to offer work in the future. However, there are some exceptions to this general prohibition and one of these is where you are making health-related enquiries that are necessary to establish whether a duty to make reasonable adjustments will arise in connection with the recruitment and selection process. Thus, our application form asks what special arrangements the candidate would require to attend interview and it also asks them to contact you if they need to submit their job application in an alternative way because their particular disability makes it difficult for them to apply by completing the form.

Previous convictions

Collecting criminal records data from all candidates at the job application stage is unlikely to be necessary and therefore in breach of data protection law. In addition, you should think about why you’re asking about criminal records at any stage of the recruitment process. So, be clear about your purpose of collecting such data (and make sure you have a lawful basis for processing it and that you’ve identified an additional lawful condition for processing it, e.g. the processing is necessary for the purposes of carrying out your obligations or exercising your rights under employment law). Therefore, only request information about criminal convictions if that information can be justified as necessary in terms of the job on offer, and also consider whether it’s appropriate to limit the information sought to offences that have a direct bearing on suitability for the particular job and whether the information should be verified with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) through a criminal records check. Even if justified, spent convictions do not have to be declared unless the job falls within an "excepted" category (and, even then, "protected cautions" and "protected convictions", as defined in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975, don't need to be disclosed). Our form provides an optional box for you to ask about both spent and unspent criminal cautions or convictions that are not protected, where the job falls within an "excepted" category under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (but not in other cases). As a general rule though, don’t ask about criminal records at the application stage for any jobs – only do so at the formal job offer stage and then only if you’re clear about your purpose for asking and you can justify collecting the data as necessary to fulfil that purpose.


Our application form includes a requirement to give the names of referees and it makes clear that you will only contact the referees if you decide to make the candidate an offer of employment and that you will inform them at that time that you are doing so. All candidates should be told at an early stage that obtaining references forms an essential part of the recruitment verification process and this should also be covered in your privacy notice for job applicants.