Completing your self-assessment

The self-assessment is a critical part of your application. It is a competency-based assessment which aims to find out how you have previously approached problems, tasks, and challenges. It requires you to provide specific examples as evidence against a criteria developed with Judicial Office.

The panel will assess the examples in your self-assessment against the competency framework to determine whether you meet the requirements of a post. Some exercises have a skills and abilities based framework, details of those will be included on specific exercise information pages.

You must provide the panel with enough information to make a decision.

You should:

  • read the competency/skills and abilities framework for the post carefully to understand what you need to demonstrate in your self-assessment
  • consider how your own experience relates to or is transferable to the competencies in the framework
  • reflect on roles, tasks and situations in which you demonstrated those competencies
  • select specific examples that best demonstrate the competencies as they are set out in the framework

A typical competency framework lists in bullet points the requirements of the post under five or six headings:

  • Exercising Judgement
  • Possessing and Building Knowledge
  • Assimilating and Clarifying Information
  • Working and Communicating with Others
  • Managing Work Efficiently
  • For some exercises, Leadership

A typical skills and abilities framework lists in bullet points the requirements of the post under three of the four headings:

  • Legal and Judicial Skills
  • Personal Qualities
  • For some exercises, Leadership
  • For some exercises, Working Effectively

Beneath each of these headings in the competency or skills and abilities framework is a series of bullet-points listing the ways in which the competency/skill might be demonstrated. You do not need to cover every bullet point under each competency/skill, but you should try to cover several if you can.

The strongest self-assessments provide at least one specific and detailed example within each competency area, and demonstrate breadth, showing clearly how each situation was approached and the successful outcome achieved. The examples are focussed and based on challenging, complex or highly sensitive situations which may be outside the day-to-day routine. The strongest self-assessments provide quality examples that are at, or above, the level of the role being applied for, and avoid any assertions and generalities as these do not provide specific evidence.

Your strongest examples might not come from a legal or judicial context. For instance, if you have not sat as a judge before, you may have chaired a committee or board meeting. You could draw upon any voluntary or pro-bono work you may have done – such as working with charities or schools – to provide examples of the competencies. You can use these examples in your self-assessment.

Using the SOAR model

The SOAR model is a way of setting out your examples that you might find helpful.

We recommend you dedicate most of the word count to the A and the R parts of your example, as this is where most of the evidence will typically be drawn from.

  • Situation: This sets out the background of your example for the sifter and provides the situation and context. It needs to be fairly short but does need to allow the sifter to assess the complexity of the situation.
  • Objective: This is where you describe the task you needed to do to meet the objectives.
  • Action: This is where you will describe what you actually did in response to the situation and task and how you did it. This is the most important part, as it is where most of the sift marks are awarded.
  • Result: At the end of the example, you will need to explain what the outcome of your actions were and why they were successful in meeting the objectives. If it wasn’t successful as it could have been, you can explain what lessons you learned and what you could have done to make it more so.

Some candidates may also be familiar with the STAR approach (situation, task, action, result) which is similar to SOAR and is also a useful technique to structure your examples. Some useful guidance on how to structure your examples using the STAR approach can be found here:

Using S.T.A.R. effectively in your job application and interviews (

Do’s and Don’ts

Below, are some do’s and don’ts to consider when completing your self-assessment:

• Choose specific examples that are relevant to the competency area.

• Consider the level of the role you are applying for and choose examples suitable to that level.

• Give examples that are well-explored, show depth and complexity.

• Use the SOAR or STAR model to structure your examples.

• Ensure the focus is on your actions and your responsibilities – explain the part you played.

• Focus on what you did using ‘I’, not ‘we’ or ‘the team’.

• Be clear and explicit so there is no doubt about how you tackled the task.

• Quantify your success – explain how you made a difference.

• Keep your examples free of jargon and technical terms, remembering your panel will have one or two lay members.

• You don’t have to write in full sentences, but it does need to make sense to the reader. If you give more than one example, make it clear where each example starts and ends by leaving a line between them or similar.

• Be concise as you are limited to approximately 250 words in each competency area, unless otherwise stated on the information page and application form.

• Use your strongest examples in your application, but keep a note of others that are relevant as you may wish to use these at interview if you are invited to selection day. The panel may ask you to expand on examples from your self-assessment, or give further examples, so you should be familiar with what you have already provided.

• Do not include assertions and generalities as they do not provide specific evidence.

• Do not list too many examples under each competency. The panel need to understand what you did, how and why. Listing four or five examples under one competency will only allow you a couple of sentences about each, which will make it difficult to provide adequate detail

• Do not use hyperlinks as these will be disregarded by the panel.

• Do not go over the word count for each competency area as the extra words will be disregarded.

• Do not simply list cases you dealt with in the past. The panel needs enough information to understand the impact of your actions and may not be familiar with specific cases.

• Do not feel that all of your examples need to come from your current or most recent employment. You will not be penalised for using older examples, or examples from other areas of your life, if they are still relevant and demonstrate your suitability for the role.

Choosing the best examples in your self-assessment

In your self-assessment, you are asked to give specific examples for each of the five or six competencies.  Each competency relates to a different aspect of the post.

It is important that the examples you choose for each competency are relevant to that competency area. To help you do this, we’ve created a webpage on choosing the best examples in your self-assessment. The page includes information on what each competency area covers, what strong examples contain for each competency area, and prompts which may help you to consider which of your examples will be relevant for each competency.

Example of a good and bad self-assessment

To help you get a better understanding of a good and bad self-assessment, we’ve added some self-assessment examples below.

The first example is an A-grade outstanding answer against a competency:

Assimilating and Clarifying Information

Quickly assimilates information to identify essential issues, develops a clear understanding and clarifies uncertainty where necessary

  • Effectively assimilates and processes large amounts of complex information from multiple sources
  • Identifies, and ensures the focus remains on, the relevant issues
  • Critically analyses information and applies appropriate weight to it in order to reach a reasoned decision

“I heard a complex 18-day whistleblowing unfair dismissal case. A few days before, I received 26 large bundles without proper pagination or indexing. I skimmed the contents, marked key parts and at the start of the hearing, checked which documents were most relevant. To stay on top of the material I created a spreadsheet of key issues against evidence and focussed the Tribunal on those. I asked numerous questions in areas where I identified gaps in the evidence. During panel discussions, we weighed the often conflicting evidence, giving attention to the source, credibility and internal consistency. I repeatedly refocused the members on key issues such as the principal reason for the dismissal.”

“In another unfair dismissal claim, I sat alone. The claimant had accepted redundancy from a builders yard due to closure, but the yard continued to operate afterwards. There were very limited written records of key events, processes and conversations. The claimant was in person and the employer’s representative not legally qualified. I explained the process and issues I would focus on at each stage, and kept my questions and explanations jargon-free. I adjourned briefly to allow parties to locate documents, which produced new evidence such as a job advert for yard workers dated after the claimant left and emails showing how workers were selected for redundancy. In my ex- tempore judgment I explained how I had weighed the evidence, why I preferred particular pieces of evidence, and why my decision went in favour of the claimant.”

The second example is a D-grade insufficient answer against the same competency:

The examples are specific but too short, too vague about what the candidate did and how they did it, and the case reference numbers do not help the panel.

“My competence in Assimilating and Clarifying Information is demonstrated by the numerous complex cases I have dealt with including [long list of case reference numbers]!

“In [case reference] I represented the parents. Dealing with French and Canadian medical experts by telephone and video link. Assimilating detailed medical information in late night meetings including reports from GOSH, details of experimental treatments, scan results and bloodwork. Short notice consideration of viability following further testing.”

“In [case reference] again rep parents, six-week shaken baby case. Police evidence contradicted mother’s account. Medical evidence CT and MRI scans expert reports served 48 hours before as to final examination.”

“In [case reference] conflicting expert evidence on causes of injury to child. Long and complex reports, many exhibits, many conflicting points. Clinical notes from hospital inconclusive. Had to decide on weight of each.”

Examples of how the panel assess applications

To show you how the panel assesses applications, here are some extracts from panel reports:

Example 1

[In their self-assessment] The candidate provided strong evidence for Exercising Judgment. They gave an example of having to consider large amounts of evidence and documents. They highlighted the issue and the context and set out what they did. For Possessing and Building knowledge, they provided strong evidence with two in-depth examples, the first was how they continuously built their knowledge as a lecturer and the second related to training new judges. For Assimilating and Clarifying Information, they provided outstanding evidence. They provided a complex example relating to an appeal, setting out all the issues and all the different steps they took to ensure understanding. They described what they actually did to clarify expert evidence, narrow down the issues and analyse all the evidence to make a decision. The candidate provided strong evidence for Working and Communicating with Others with an example of dealing with a sensitive case and the steps they took to ensure a fair hearing. The candidate provided strong evidence for Managing Work Efficiently. They provided an example of juggling work on a busy list, and how they managed their diary due to their many work and study commitments.

Example 2

[In their self-assessment] The candidate provided strong evidence of Exercising Judgement and sufficient evidence of the remaining four competencies. For Exercising Judgement, they gave two in-depth examples of complex cases, including a Land Registry boundary case and an alleged abuse of process. These clearly evidenced the candidate’s ability to apply the law and their independence of mind. Examples for the other four competencies were more routine and straightforward. For example, for Assimilating and Clarifying Information the candidate described a case as a Tribunal Judge where they had to assimilate several large files and a 40-page breakdown of costs, in order to identify and clarify relevant issues. The candidate’s examples demonstrated sound practice but lacked depth and complexity.

Example 3

[In their self-assessment] They gave sufficient evidence for Exercising Judgement, with an example of hearing an appeal arising from two different decisions over a period of two years, with complex inter-dependencies. Strong evidence was provided for Possessing and Building Knowledge, with an example of building and then applying complex legal knowledge in both new jurisdictions in which they sit as a judge. Evidence for Assimilating and Clarifying Information was sufficient, with an example of handling a voluminous and disorganised appeal file, where they succeeded in identifying the key documents and relevant issues. They gave strong evidence of Working and Communicating with Others, with an example of introducing special measures in a hearing with a young Albanian applicant with mental health issues who had not been allowed a Litigation Friend previously. For Managing Work Efficiently the evidence was sufficient, with a routine description of handling a pressurised list in the Immigration & Asylum Chamber. Overall, their self-assessment contained relevant, specific examples, mainly drawn from their judicial roles, though some were rather routine.

Next step: Choosing the best examples in your self-assessment

%d bloggers like this: