Application process

Learn how to prepare for our assessment process.

Potential candidates in logo

Pathways to Planning has been designed as a fast track entry into a career in planning within local government. As it is open to graduates from any degree background, with no work experience required, we want to measure candidates’ best fit for a career in planning. The assessments start quite broadly and become more specific to a planning context as the process progresses.

18 Sept – 1 Nov 2023: Cohort 1 applications open

As part of stage one, graduates must complete the application form and situational judgement test by the deadline of noon, 1 November. Applicants who meet the minimum threshold for the situational judgement test will then be invited to a video interview. Each applicant will have 10 days to complete the video interview from the time they receive the link by email.

Late Nov 2023: Pathways to Planning team will be in touch with the outcomes of stage one

w/c 8 Jan 2024: Graduates will attend a half-day, virtual assessment centre

Every assessment will be measured against our competencies so everyone has a fair and equal chance to prepare for the process. Please access our support resources before you complete any assessments.

Feb 2024: Council-based interviews

31 Mar 2024: Contracts signed with councils by this date at the latest


Our entire assessment process has been built around the following competencies, which were designed by an occupational psychologist along with volunteers from the young planners network, the BAME planners network, the Planning Advisory Service and the National Graduate Development Programme for Local Government.

Stages of the recruitment process 

Situational judgement test

All candidates will start by completing a situational judgement test. This test uses real life scenarios from graduate planners and general management trainees, all working in a local government context. You will be given a short scenario and then three possible responses. You will be asked to select your most and least likely responses to the scenario. 

The test will take you through 24 different scenarios, measuring each of our competencies three times over the test. It is not timed, but we anticipate that it will take you 30-45 minutes on average to complete. We suggest you complete the test when you have at least an hour to spare to avoid putting yourself under unnecessary pressure. If you want to pause the assessment, you will be able to do so after answering a question, before proceeding to the next question. You must complete the entire situational judgement test by 1 November at noon.

Please watch our short workshop below for examples of situational judgement test questions and tips on how to prepare.

Sample questions

Video interview 

If you meet the minimum criteria for the situational judgement test, you will then be invited to complete a video interview. You will have 10 days from the time we send you an active link to the video interview to choose a time that works for you to complete this assessment. We anticipate it will take you 15-20 minutes to complete this assessment but again, we would recommend leaving yourself an hour to use the practice function and ensure all you are at ease with the platform before you begin. You will be asked three questions, one at a time, which relate to our competencies. You are encouraged to draw on any relevant experiences and examples, as we do not expect you to have experience working in a related area. 

The assessment is timed, but you will get one chance to re-record each question if you are not satisfied with your first answer. If you require any reasonable adjustments, please get in touch with our team before you begin the video interview. We will not be able to provide extra time retrospectively. 

Please note that your score for the first stage will be comprised of your situational judgement test and video interview outcomes. 

Below is a short video which contains tips about how to perform well in the video interview.

Virtual assessment centre 

If you advance from stage one, you will attend a virtual, half-day assessment centre where you will complete three tasks. These will be a written task, a group exercise and a presentation exercise. Everything you need will be provided during the assessment centre and no advance preparation will be required. The assessment centre will take place on a virtual platform and assessments will be marked by trained professionals. Please see the FAQ section at the bottom of this page or contact our team if you have any concerns. 


The final stage, for those who have passed through the assessment process, is to interview with at least one of the participating councils you are interested in working for. We will ask you to declare the councils that you are interested in working for as part of your application process and double check after assessment centres are over that your circumstances have not changed.


Eligibility to apply

 Assessment process 

Assessment centre