Universal Credit - The interview, work coach and activity groups

Booking your interview

Within seven days of applying online, you must arrange an interview at your local job centre – otherwise you may have to start the application again

  • The person who interviews you is called your work coach. You’ll probably meet them or talk to them fairly regularly as part of your claim 
  • Your work coach will want to find out about all the things that affect your ability to work
  • To book your interview log in to your Universal Credit account and go to the to do list section. This is where you should find the phone number you need to book your interview
If you are struggling to find the telephone number for the interview – or with any aspect of applying for Universal Credit – call the free helpline on 0800 328 5644
  • Once you’ve completed an action – like booking an interview – it should show in the section called journal 
  • Your journal is important, so check it regularly. This is where you’ll find messages from your work coach – you can leave messages there for them, too
  • If you live with a partner, they'll have a separate interview
  • Before your interview, start thinking about everything that may affect your ability to work - or work more hours

Things to take to your interview

You’ll need to take quite a few things to the interview. The easiest thing to do is look at the Citizens Advice Interview Checklist and tick everything off the list as you find it.

They’ll be things like proof of your:
  • Identity (driving licence or passport is ideal)
  • Address (official bank letter or utility bill) 
  • Bank details (statement)
  • National Insurance number (payslip or letter from HMRC) 
  • If you don’t – or can’t – take the information on the checklist to your interview, take what you can. Then take or post the rest within one month of your interview
  • Don’t worry if you don’t have all the documents you need, just tell your work coach. They may be able to ask you extra questions instead
  • Please note, the longer you take to give information to your work coach, the longer you may have to wait for assessment and for your first payment
  • If you have any questions about what you should take to the interview, call the free, Universal Credit helpine on 0800 328 5644 

You won’t get your first Universal Credit payment until you’ve given all the information and/or documents to your work coach as agreed. 

Preparing for the interview

It can be difficult to talk about private things but it’s best to be honest about your life.

Your work coach will probably want to know if you:
  • Have children
  • Have a partner
  • Will struggle to pay for childcare
  • Have a disability or a health condition
  • Look after someone with a disability
  • Have a partner, child or young person who’s died in the last 6 months
  • Are being treated for a drug or alcohol problem
  • Have difficulties reading or writing
  • Are homeless
  • Have to do jury service
  • Will struggle to pay for travel (your work coach might be able to arrange extra money to help)
  • Have experienced domestic abuse

You’ll also need to be ready to talk about your work history, covering things like:
  • Your qualifications, skills, experience and work history. It’s a good idea to take your CV (if you have one)
  • How much you’ve earned in previous jobs
  • How many hours you think you can work. If you can’t work full-time be sure to explain why – eg if you have a disability or are caring for children/family

The claimant commitment (and the work-related activity group)

After you’ve talked about your life, your work coach will decide which work-related activity group is right for you.

There are four groups and you will be put in one. The four groups are:
  • Non work-related requirements group – you don’t need to do anything extra 
  • Work-focused interview group – you must have regular meetings with your work coach
  • Work preparation group – you’ll need to prepare for work and have regular meetings with your work coach. You may have to do training or gain work experience
  • All work-related activity group – you’ll be expected to look for work or earn more. You’ll have regular meetings with your work coach 
If you think your work coach has put you in the wrong group, then it’s important to tell them.

Once you’ve agreed which activity group is right for you, your work coach will ask you to agree to do tasks. This will become your claimant commitment.

Only agree to a claimant commitment if you can do all the tasks. If you miss any of them out your Universal Credit payment could be stopped.

If you’d like help finding a job or a course that’s right for you, please call us on 0300 5000 926. We have dedicated Employment and Training advisors who can support you. We’ve helped 100s of customers into work, to find better work or get into training.

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