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to ask for help with a job application?

(31 Posts)
BiscuitsAreMyDownfall Sun 25-Jan-15 10:38:27

Or should I accept that as I am stuck with the application form I cant do the job?

Im out of work and currently relying on benefits, but I am looking for work. I have seen a job I would like to apply for. The closing date is Wednesday.

There are competence based questions and I have no idea what it is they are looking for. I would like to link to the job advert which includes the description and write the questions so maybe someone could tell me what kind of thing they are after so then I can answer the best I can.

Is there anywhere else I could maybe get advice. Obviously I want to answer the questions with my skills and experiences, but I don't want to get it wrong.

LoisWilkersonsLastNerve Sun 25-Jan-15 10:50:20

Just be detailed and descriptive in your answers. They want to know how you deal with situations and your thought process. If it is "tell me about a time when...." questions then explain what you did, why you did it and what the outcome was.

BiscuitsAreMyDownfall Sun 25-Jan-15 11:00:01

They are tell us about skills and experience that relate to competence one in the job description regarding improve and change. And then another 4 but with different last words. The job description doesn't really say anything about improving and changing. Just mentions the 5 different competencies with no real explanation. Its just bewildered me and I dont really know what to write.

TiredButFine Sun 25-Jan-15 11:26:31

Competency based applications lead to competency based interviews, so it's worth doing some googleing now so you understand the process. The point of competency based examples is so you describe how and why you do things- this helps the employer see if you have the right understanding. It also means you sometimes have to spell out the obvious! You get graded with points on how well you do it and the idea is not to always "be the best". For example for improving I could say "we do not have an office manager any more due tonstaff cuts. We were always running out of envelopes, so I suggested to my manager that when we ordered a box, we should set up a reminder in our team calendar two weeks from that date to check if we were running low on envelopes. This meant that all of the team would check if we were running low and could order them before we ran out. Running out means using up time and paying higher costs buying envelopes from the local shop. The result was that we did not run out of envelopes and this saved time and money for our office, and we still use this system" see how that is basically a dull, minor thing? But it hits all of the competecy marks because it shows- what you did, why you did it, what the outcome was, and how you "improved" something at work.

JeanSeberg Sun 25-Jan-15 11:31:41

Hi Biscuits

If you'd like to post some of the questions I'd be happy to give some advice as I'm sure would others.

Good luck with the application!

rainyevening Sun 25-Jan-15 11:33:46

Tired is exactly right. They are looking for evidence of how you have demonstrated that competency in the past. You don't have to link to the job description - just focus on describing, in the way that Tired has, your best evidence of how you've done it.

The organisation might have a 'competency framework' which you can ask for. This is a fuller description of all the competences.

Good luck!

BiscuitsAreMyDownfall Sun 25-Jan-15 11:57:02

Copied and pasted from the application form:

With reference to the competence profile in the job description, please give a specific example of how your skills, abilities and experience relate to Changing and Improving - What was the situation? What did you do? What was the outcome?

That is 1 of 5 the other four questions are exactly the same, but with the bolded words changed to:
- Leading and Communicating
- Managing a quality service
- Collaborating and Partnering
- Delivering at pace

Competency based applications lead to competency based interviews That scares me, Im not sure I can answer those types of questions. Though first thing is to finish the application form off. I assume if I was to get an interview I will have to elaborate on my answers to these questions.

Puzzledandpissedoff Sun 25-Jan-15 12:01:50

Try googling competency based interviews - there's lots of advice out there

Also maybe regard any interview you get as "practice" rather than the be-all and end-all; not only will this help you to relax, it all helps with the next one in line until you get something which will be a great match for you smile

WidowWadman Sun 25-Jan-15 12:02:34

Structure your answers in a STAR way:

Situation: outline the situation you were in
Task: describe the problem you needed to solve
Action: what have you done to resolve it
Result: what was the result of the action?

Don't worry too much if you don't have a positive outcome for every example - as long as you can explain why the outcome was as it was

hectoronthehill Sun 25-Jan-15 12:11:51

Recognise those as Civil Service ones. The Delivering at Pace thing needs to be an example that shows you can prioritise.

BiscuitsAreMyDownfall Sun 25-Jan-15 12:18:37

Yes hector it is a civil service job.

Ive found a document entitled civil service competency framework with a summary of each competency and a description of what it means in practice. So now I need to study it and work out how I can answer each question. Surely must have some experience or skill that I can attribute to each question.

The Delivering at Pace competency is the easiest for me.

TiredButFine Sun 25-Jan-15 19:34:43

It is a bit of work to select your examples, and then set them out the right way. Sometimes there is a word limit as well. But once you have done that you have actually done all of the hard work, and prepared for interview as well. You don't have to use the same examples at interview, it's good if you can have a few different ones. The examples don't have to be from a work situation even, and don't have to have a brilliant outcome- as long as you can say "and what I would do differently next time is...."

BiscuitsAreMyDownfall Sun 25-Jan-15 20:27:04

Its just trying to think of examples now. I have them for 3 possibly 4 of the questions, but I am a bit stuck at the first one. I can say I am adaptable to change and like to challenge myself, but Im not sure what example to give.

chocoshopoholic Sun 25-Jan-15 20:55:40

Have you ever suggested an improvement to a system, service or a process in a previous role? E.g. The way we did z was slow and time consuming, I suggested that we did x, this improved waiting time by y and we had better satisfaction scores.

2plus1plus1 Sun 25-Jan-15 20:59:26

What grade are you applying for?

BiscuitsAreMyDownfall Sun 25-Jan-15 21:10:43

choco No, Ive never come up with improvements for anything I can think of, although that's due to lack of imagination. I am adaptable to change and happy to go along with changes, Im just not very good at thinking of what changes need to be implemented. Even if I did Im not sure I would have the guts to suggest anything.

2plus Grade 1 I believe. The job description said AO and in the document I found on google suggested that was the lowest one.

Can't believe Im getting this stressed out about an application form. Thinking that perhaps a job in civil service is not for me.

chocoshopoholic Sun 25-Jan-15 21:26:58

So in a scenario where x was being changed have you an example of...

- proactive, supporting ideas to go forward at team meetings, willingly and promptly attending training/briefing for swift implementation, helping with production of process manuals/documents?

- supporting testing / feedback on new systems.

- explaing the change to subordinates/customers/colleagues in other teams possibly gaining their buy in and support

- helping new starters understand why the change was necessary

BiscuitsAreMyDownfall Sun 25-Jan-15 21:32:28

No none of that. Any changes anywhere I've been at the bottom of the pile so just been told this is the new way. I've done product tests before, but that's about it really.

2plus1plus1 Sun 25-Jan-15 21:33:06

A job in the civil service shouldn't be judged by the competency application!
Plenty of current servants don't rate it as a method. It's just a process you need to get through.
Do you do volunteering/PTA/a hobby that you could use for an example? They don't all have to be work related.

NotGoingOut17 Sun 25-Jan-15 21:34:53

AO is the 2nd lowest grade although is the most common one - there is an AA grade too (admin assistant as opposed to admin officer). Although depends on what Dept you are applying for - they may not have AAs, and some departments have different grading structures.

To be honest OP, my experience is a lot of employers use competency based questions/app forms so this isn't an issue that is unique to the CS in terms of what you'll come across when applying for jobs. I remember having a competency based interview for a part time job when i was studying - it just seems to be the way a lot of employers do things now.

The STAR model Widow has quoted is the one I always used and found that when I stick to it, I have done well. The key is to be specific so not general statements of your qualities - they are looking for evidence of these comptencies. The other trap I have fallen in to is going off tangent and talking about the general situation and what my team did etc. But your answer needs to focus on what YOU did. Honestly try thr STAR model - just start with bullet points and work from there. As others have said there should be some good examples online, good luck!

OriginalGreenGiant Sun 25-Jan-15 21:38:50

For competency based interviews, remember STARR -

Situation - I was informed I would have to take on a new responsibility at work

Task - My task was to ensure I met my new responsibility and excelled

Action - I did xy and z to meet this aim

Result - I achieved xyz. The outcome was...

Review - With hindsight, I would...

It really helps you to structure your examples, and remembering STARR will help keep you focussed if they throw a competency question at you that you weren't expecting.

NotGoingOut17 Sun 25-Jan-15 21:39:58

Do you have any customer service experience OP? Any situation where you have done something to improve something for a specific customer? As has been said, it doesn't have to be work related. I used jury duty as a team work example on occasion.

OriginalGreenGiant Sun 25-Jan-15 21:40:07

Doh...see STARR has already been mentioned

BiscuitsAreMyDownfall Sun 25-Jan-15 21:44:22

2plus I didn't think it was, but if I can't fill out the application form then maybe it isn't the right job for me and another one will be IYSWIM. Not applying for this one leads me to see another that is a better fit for me. Though I do really want to apply for this job.

Is MNing a hobby? grin I run and enter competitions sometimes. Don't know about any changes and improvements there. I have 3 DCs so maybe changing and improving the way I have run the house could be a possibility? University maybe, changing my routine to learn to live independently (ie first time away from my parents to live) while studying?

BiscuitsAreMyDownfall Sun 25-Jan-15 21:47:21

Yes notgoingout I do.

I looked at Starr upthread and I will go that way when I know what experience to use for each question.

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