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Civil Service HEO interview help!!

(9 Posts)
ThunderClouds Fri 17-Feb-17 13:15:50

I'm hoping any civil servants can help. I have been offered an interview for a HEO position which will be on promotion from an EO role in a different dept which I have been doing for 7 months.

I was an AO after graduating in different roles for nearly 3 years and 'acted up' for some of that time (about a year) to EO level. I really want this particular job as it is in an area I want to move to for family reasons and there are very few non-specialist opportunities in the region. It would also be valuable experience.

I feel extremely nervous as I'm not sure I have been at EO level long enough to move up (despite getting good feedback and being reasonably confident in my current role). Also despite being offered an interview, my competencies didn't receive brilliant feedback so I don't feel that confident in relying on them. I don't really have any relevant experience pre- degree either, just what I have gained in the civil service so far.

Any tips on how to show I have the capability to do a HEO role in interview and what the panel would be looking for in a HEO candidate compared to in lower grades? It will be an ops role. Thank you!

EwanWhosearmy Fri 17-Feb-17 15:17:32

I have been trying without success to move from EO to HEO for years. The difference between the 2 levels is at HEO you have to show you have actively gone out and done something, rather than reacted to a problem.

So at EO you could say you solved a problem by doing XYZ while at HEO you would say you noticed X wasn't working so you did Y and Z to improve it. Depending on the competences required they also ask things like "describe a time you've had to explain a complex issue to someone" and "how have you dealt with difficult people".

Look at the Civil Service framework and make sure you can cover at least 2/3s of each at the right level. Good luck.

ThunderClouds Fri 17-Feb-17 17:57:07

Thanks, that's a really useful insight into how to approach questions. I hope your next application to heo works out :-)

cheekymonk Mon 22-May-17 20:46:30

I'm in the same boat!

Bangsheadontable Mon 22-May-17 20:54:38

Hi all. I was a DD in Cabinet Office and DH until a couple of years ago. I'm happy to try and help. It's always tricky to offer help by message, so I don't mind having a quick phone call if useful. But the crux of it is using the STAR - situation, task, action, result - format to compose an example for each competence. You need to be sure you have a distinct example for each, and use the language of the competence at HEO in your example. I used to get my mentees to print out each competence on a separate piece of A3 and do a spider graph to brainstorm all the possible answers.

You should also rehearse each answer so you have them nailed. Because it will be a competency based interview, then although they could use different ways to explore the same competence, your answer will be broadly the same. Your goal is to have your answers planned so the thinking bit of your brain can be tuned into being calm and making a great impression.

You'll want to do at least one mock interview. Practicing on your own is no substitute for a 1-1 with someone else. Ideally a civil servant.

You should also practice walking and eye contact and shaking hands and sitting down too. Literally do it with someone else. This is partially so that you don't wave your hands all over the place, and also because pre-visualising all of those parts of the interview is really calming.

Finally, have a good question for when they ask if you have a Qu. Makes a good impression.

Hope helpful! Good luck.

ElizabethG81 Mon 22-May-17 22:44:30

Sorry to gatecrash the thread, but I thought those already working in the Civil Service might be able to help me out with a query. I'm considering applying for a role that has 3 locations listed in the job advert, but then also says that other locations may be considered, by negotiation. In your experience, how flexible is this? The locations listed wouldn't be doable for me on a day-to-day basis, but a city about 1hr from 2 of the locations would be OK. I know that the particular department has offices in the city I'm thinking of. Apologies if I've not provided enough info, but would you say it's worth applying and then, if I got through interview, to negotiate the location? Or is it just something they put in job adverts to make it look like they're more flexible than they are? Thanks.

cheekymonk Sat 27-May-17 14:57:35

Thanks Bangshead. It's all done now so waiting to hear!
Elizabeth, depending on the grade you are applying for affects travel time. HEOs are expected to be more flexible than EOs although I can't remember the exact distance. I changed location bit it was quite a battle and at one point I was asked to consider downgrading. So proceed with caution!

daisychain01 Sat 27-May-17 15:18:17

If you aren't already, develop the mindset of talking only about what you did, how you behaved and don't bring into the equation what other people did.

It's difficult because we are normally encouraged to take a "There's no I in Team" approach, but it's critical to convey your knowledge from your own perspective rather than that of a team.

IrenetheQuaint Thu 01-Jun-17 14:11:29

Even though you'll have prepared answers, make sure you listen to the actual question and answer it. It's incredibly easy to spot when someone panics and retreats to their safe competency example. I would expect an HEO to be able to think on their feet a bit.

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