Public appointments

What is a public appointment and how to apply for one.

Some public appointment application processes may be paused until after the General Election on 4 July, as set out in Section H of the General Election Guidance 2024 (PDF, 200KB)]. If you are concerned about how this affects your application, please contact the relevant sponsor department.

What is a public appointment

A public appointment has no exact definition – typically it could be a chair or non-executive director, for a board of a public body, a member of an advisory committee or an office holder.

There is a wide variety of public appointments, from those at local levels, monitoring the operation of local prisons, national parks or flood defences, to others that help steer the direction of well-known national institutions like the NHS and some of the country’s largest museums.

There are a wealth of benefits to becoming a public appointee. Read more about the benefits, what a role might entail and required skills.

Who can apply

Most people can apply for a public appointment. We actively encourage applicants who can bring new talent and fresh perspectives to the services we all care about. Whatever your interests, background and experience there is an opportunity for you to get involved.

You can be a public appointee alongside your job, as long as you have the time to do both roles.

In general, you should have the right to work in the UK to be eligible to apply for a public appointment.

There are a small number of specialist roles that are not open to non-British citizens. Any nationality requirements will be specified in the vacancy details.

The government expects all holders of public office to work to the highest personal and professional standards.

You cannot be considered for a public appointment if:

  • you are disqualified from acting as a company director  (under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986)
  • have an unspent conviction on your criminal record
  • your estate has been sequestrated in Scotland or you enter into a debt arrangement programme under Part 1 of the Debt Arrangement and Attachment (Scotland) Act 2002 (asp 17) as the debtor or have, under Scots law, granted a trust deed for creditors

When you apply, you should declare if:

  • you are, or have been, bankrupt or you have made an arrangement with a creditor at any point, including the dates of this
  • you are subject to a current police investigation

You must inform the sponsor department if, during the application process, your circumstances change in respect of any of the above points.

When you apply you should also declare any relevant interests, highlighting any that you think may call into question your ability to properly discharge the responsibilities of the role you are applying for. You should also declare any other matters which may mean you may not be able to meet the requirements of the Code of Conduct of Board Members (see Outside interests and reputational issues section below).

General skills required

Roles often focus on your existing transferable skills. These could be:

  • providing strategic leadership and direction
  • financial and risk management
  • providing independent scrutiny and challenge
  • working as a part of a team
  • having an awareness or experience of good governance

Some roles will require specialists or specialist skills. Requirements for each role will be set out in its advertisement – whatever your interests, background and experience, there is an opportunity for you to get involved.

Types of roles available

There are lots of different types of public appointment. The most common types are set out below.


A Chair is responsible for the strategic leadership of the board of an organisation and for ensuring its overall effectiveness and delivery against agreed purpose and objectives.


A member (often referred to as a non-executive director (NED)) supports the Chair in their leadership of the board and provides appropriate scrutiny and challenge to the executive of the organisation.

Individual Office Holder

An Individual Office Holder is a person who has been appointed to undertake a specific function on behalf of, or for, ministers. They are not supported by other non-executive members. Examples include the Children’s Commissioner (which is a statutory role with legislation that sets out its remit) and the Food Waste Champion (a non-statutory role).

Sometimes, you may see executive roles advertised on this site. An executive is a person who is to be an employee of a public body or public office such as Chief Executives and Chief Operating Officers. These are not public appointments, however ministers may sometimes be involved in these appointments.

Time commitment

Appointments vary in time commitment which can be anywhere from 2 to 3 days per week; 1 to 2 days a month; to a few days a year. Appointments are usually held for between 3 and 5 years.

The vacancy will contain details of how much time is involved and how long you can expect to commit to that role, but if you have any further questions, you can follow up through the contact details provided in the advert.

Payment and expenses

You should read the individual vacancy details for more information about remuneration for the role you are interested in. While you will not be employed, remuneration, if provided, will  be treated as employment income and will be subject to tax and National Insurance contributions, both of which will be deducted at source under PAYE before you are paid.

You can usually claim reimbursement for reasonable travel and subsistence costs necessarily incurred on official business however these payments are taxable as earnings and will be subject to tax and national insurance, both of which will be deducted at source under PAYE before you are paid.

If you are appointed, you will not become a member of the Civil Service or be subject to the provisions of employment law.

Outside interests and reputational issues

Holders of public office are expected to adhere to and uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life and the principles contained within the Code of Conduct for Board Members.. Applicants and appointees need to abide by these principles and you should consider carefully:

  • any outside interests that you may have, such as shares you may hold in a company providing services to government
  • any possible reputational issues arising from your past actions or  public statements that you have made
  • any political roles you hold or political campaigns you have supported

which may call into question your ability to meet the standards set out in these Codes or to properly discharge the responsibilities of  the role you are applying for.

You will need to answer relevant questions in relation to these points when making an application. Many conflicts of interest can be satisfactorily resolved and declaring a potential conflict does not prevent you from being interviewed. If you are shortlisted for an interview, the panel will discuss any potential conflicts with you during that interview, including any proposals you may have to mitigate them and record that in their advice to ministers.

Alongside your own declaration, we will conduct appropriate checks, as part of which we will consider anything in the public domain related to your conduct or professional capacity. This may include searches of previous public statements and social media, blogs or any other publicly available information. The successful candidate(s) may be required to give up any conflicting interests and their other business and financial interests may be published in line with organisational policies.

Political activity

Political activity is not a bar to appointment but must be declared. When you apply, you must declare if, during the last five years, you have:

  • been employed by a political party
  • held significant office in a political party
  • stood as a candidate for a political party
  • publicly spoken on behalf of a political party
  • made significant donations or loans to a political party

Details of declared political activity will be published when the appointment is announced, as set out in paragraph 9.2 of the Governance Code on Public Appointments.

How to apply

You can search for public appointments online and find out how to apply through the role advert.

If you want to apply for a role you will usually need to submit a CV and a supporting statement that explain how you meet the requirements for the role. You will also need to answer some questions about yourself, including some diversity information (although you can choose “prefer not to say” in response to these questions).

One of the questions will ask whether you have a disability. Read further information on recording whether or not you have a disability.

Full details will be set out in the role advert and you may wish to refer to the tips on applying below.

When you apply you will have the opportunity to select if you would like your application considered under the Disability Confident Scheme. You can also request reasonable adjustments to the application process.

View and apply for public appointments

After you have applied

  1. The application is sifted. An Advisory Assessment Panel (usually made up of a senior official from the sponsoring department, a representative of the public body the role is with and an independent member) will review all applications and decide who will go through to the next stage. Details of the panel members will be set out in the role advert. Feedback is not usually available to those who do not progress to interview.

  2. Attend an interview. This will be with the panel and will usually last between 30 and 60 minutes. You will be asked to provide evidence of how your experience, knowledge and skills demonstrate the essential criteria for the role that were set out in the advert. You may be asked to do a presentation on a particular topic but will be told. After the interview, the panel will submit their assessment of whether each candidate met the criteria (and is therefore “appointable” to  the role), or not, to the appointing minister.

  3. A minister makes the decision. The minister may choose to meet all candidates before making a final decision on who to appoint. For a small number of roles, you may need to attend a hearing with a Parliamentary Select Committee for pre-appointment scrutiny before the appointment is confirmed (see below for further information on this).

  4. Announcement. If you’re successful, the sponsor department will contact you to discuss next steps. Your appointment will usually be announced publicly on If you are unsuccessful, you can ask for feedback.

Tips for applying

For most roles, you will be asked to submit a CV and supporting statement and then, if shortlisted, invited to an interview, The panel will look at both your CV and supporting statement when recommending to a minister who should be shortlisted for interview.

  • please aim to keep both your CV and supporting statement to two pages each (depending on the role, the panel may have hundreds of applications to review);
  • include your name at the top of both documents on all pages used;
  • keep fonts to 12-point size so that your documents are readable for those who may have eyesight issues

Tailoring your CV

Public appointments are usually board-level roles and so you are likely to need to tailor your CV to demonstrate that you have the skills needed to operate at board level.

You do not need to have held a board-level role before but as a non-executive you will advise, support and provide challenge, so think about what you are doing now, or have done in previous roles, to advise or provide support and challenge in your work or other experiences outside your work. Show how you would add value in a boardroom. The 12 principles of governance for public body non-executives list the qualities that non-executives need to demonstrate.

Your CV should provide details of your education and qualifications, employment history, directorships, membership of professional bodies and details of any publications or awards.

Writing a statement of suitability

When writing your supporting statement of suitability, give yourself plenty of time to consider the best approach. Familiarise yourself with the requirements of the role, how you understand the environment in which the role will operate and explain how you would use your unique experience to contribute to the success of the organisation.

You may want to add the essential and desirable criteria set out in the role description as subheadings and in your statement and provide evidence underneath these. This will help the panel to see how your skills and expertise relate to the role.

If you are invited to interview

When you apply for a public appointment, the panel will assess objectively whether your application - and any evidence you provide at interview - demonstrates that you meet the essential criteria set out in the advert. The tips below will help you stand the best chance of showing the panel that you meet the criteria.

  • if you haven’t had a chance to do this before you apply, it is worth spending some time looking into the work of the public body or office you are applying for a role with. You could look at their annual reports, or contact the organisation and ask to speak to someone on the board
  • remind yourself of the essential criteria for the role and think about questions the panel might ask related to those
  • check whether any reasonable adjustments the department has agreed to provide are in place for you and let the panel know anything that would help you to demonstrate evidence that you meet the essential criteria for the role
  • the panel can only take into account evidence that you provide in your CV, supporting statement and in interview. Don’t assume the panel knows about any experience, knowledge or skills that you haven’t set out and use the opportunity in the interview to explain to the panel how you meet the essential criteria for the role

If you would like any further advice about applying or interviewing, please contact the person listed in the advert in the first instance.

Pre-appointment scrutiny

Pre-appointment scrutiny by select committees is an important part of the process for some of the most significant public appointments made by Ministers. The advert will make clear if this applies to the role you are interested in.

If the role is subject to pre-appointment scrutiny  and you are confirmed as the government’s preferred candidate, the department will be in touch to confirm next steps. In most cases your name and CV will be provided to the relevant select committee in advance of the hearing.  Following a date being agreed for a pre-appointment hearing with the committee, you will be asked to complete a questionnaire in advance of that. After the hearing, the government will review and respond to the Committee’s report before confirming the appointment. You can read more in the Cabinet Office’s Guidance on pre appointment scrutiny.

Find out about upcoming opportunities

To find out about upcoming opportunities you can:

Further support

We have published further guidance on the role and expected standards for those that serve on the boards of public bodies, and how they can best support effective working relationships with departments:

All new non-executives will be offered an induction to support them in their role. The government is committed to investing in providing high quality training and development for these important roles throughout the tenure of the appointment.


For information regarding a specific appointment advertised you should use the contact details listed for that vacancy. This information should be listed in the ‘Point of contact’ details for each vacancy.


For public appointments queries related to individual departments please contact the department directly at:

Published 31 May 2022
Last updated 1029 JulyMay 2024 + show all updates
  1. Updated the contact section to change the format and also update the contact details for the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology and Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.

  2. Updated to add details of changes made during the pre-election period.

  3. Updated a link to the Governance Code on Public Appointments

  4. Updated the link to the current 'Public appointments order in council' document.

  5. Updated the URL for the Current Order.

  6. Updated to reflect the change from Department for International Trade to Department for Business and Trade

  7. Made the following changes to the 'Contact' section: AMEND: Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy > Department for Business and Trade (email stays the same) AMEND: Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport > Department for Culture, Media and Sport (email stays the same) ADD: Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (email address is ADD: Department for Science, Innovation and Technology(email address is

  8. Added the contact for Department for International Trade

  9. Updated the 'Find out about upcoming opportunities' section

  10. First published.