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Any Civil Servants around? Help!

(28 Posts)
DustingOffTheDynastySuit Thu 19-Feb-15 17:29:47

I seem to have got a job interview at a Gov. dept. My first job interview in 13 years, which is quite scary enough, and I've never worked in the public sector.

What the jeff do I wear? I've not owned a suit since graduation? (Work on the comms side, so not super-formal)

Any other top tips for the likely 'written assessment'? Or just general survival?


DustingOffTheDynastySuit Thu 19-Feb-15 18:54:04

Bumpity bump

MsAspreyDiamonds Fri 20-Feb-15 18:07:14

Dark Suits or formal trousers skirt/shirt combination. Aim to be smart, groomed & presentable but not city lawyer smart iyswim.

Have a look on the guardian careers webpages for interview advice, sorry I can't link from my phone. Ask somebody to give you a mock interview.

Google 'the ten most toughest interview questions' and formulate model answers. You will get a variation of these questions. I got 8/10 of these questions at my last interview.

Also Google civil service tests and work through some model questions to give you an idea of the format. It will help relax you if you are familiar with the format & know what's expected of you beforehand.

Good luck. It's all in the preparation.

MsAspreyDiamonds Fri 20-Feb-15 18:10:04

I am not a civil servant by the way, have previously worked in the public sector.

CluelessNewbie1 Fri 20-Feb-15 18:14:27

Search for civil service competency framework. Any interview process will be based on this.

booface Fri 20-Feb-15 18:14:55

I used the Timewise website's very helpful interview tips and worked my way through all the questions there. It was really helpful and I ended up getting the job! Really good luck and hope you do the same

dannyboyle Fri 20-Feb-15 18:17:29

It is likely to be competency based. They should have provided you with this and the competency areas required for the job. Questions will be based around these, how you have achieved outcomes, what you did etc.

sandgrown Fri 20-Feb-15 18:19:36

Most civil service interviews consist of competency based questions. You should have been given a list of the competencies. Think of answers for each competency that demonstrate what you did, how you did it and what the outcome was. Depending on the grade you can use examples from non working life. If asked about organisational skills think about things like arranging a party or similar or if you have a degree how did you organise your study.Many people have good examples but just do not realise. Just dress smartly and feel comfortable. Good luck

turkeyboots Fri 20-Feb-15 18:33:36

Civil service applications are all based on the competence framework which is on the civil service website. Read it and prepare answers to answer questions like - tell me about a time you showed good (insert competence) skills. STAR format is expected.

Comms people aren't formal, but suit would be a good idea.

longestlurkerever Fri 20-Feb-15 18:40:18

Yes, competency based and star format. Google both of these and prepare. They won't be trying to trick you and questions are quite predictable but you have to cover quite a bit in each answer. Focus on what your personal role was in reaching whatever solution and always be prepared to say what the outcome was.

Anything office smart should be fine. Most people will be in suits for interview but is not compulsory and day to day women generally not in suits. Good luck!

albertcampionscat Fri 20-Feb-15 18:40:58

Competencies all the way. Prepare STAR (situation, task, action, result) examples for all the relevant competencies.

longestlurkerever Fri 20-Feb-15 18:43:15

Ps if you got an interview you already have the right idea as the firms are marked on the same format. You can often use the same examples but be prepared to have a back up in case they ask for a different example. Work based examples best but study or outside qork examples ok if no alternative.

DustingOffTheDynastySuit Fri 20-Feb-15 19:01:39

Thank you all. The application form was all competency, i dont think it asked for academic qualifications at all. I don't actually have a copy of my degree certificate adds to to-do list!

I rather stupidly did the application in a rush, last minute, so I doubt my examples were particularly great, but it is at least confidence boosting that they asked me for interview on that basis.

Emergency shopping trip next week then! I've been home working a lot recently and consider slippers optimum work wear.

MummySara Mon 23-Feb-15 17:34:08

I have an Interview with Barcap this week. I have not had an interview in 10years!!!! I know the feeling. I am opting for my maternity work trousers (I don't fit into anything else) and a smart blouse with some flat pointy smart shoes.

DustingOffTheDynastySuit Tue 24-Feb-15 12:34:15

I got a really lovely black shift dress from a discount village. I have an old black blazer which works nicely over the top of it, although it has long sleeves so can wear without, and a couple of shoe options - either black or very dark maroon to break up the all black 'column' look, with nearly black tights.

My concern now is finding my degree certificate! Would first degree and Postgrad certs be enough do you think, or will they want A-Level also?

turkeyboots Wed 25-Feb-15 17:30:30

No-one ever asked for my certificates, had to bring passport on first day though.

Good luck!

DustingOffTheDynastySuit Wed 11-Mar-15 23:36:41

Well I managed to turn up late, not have the correct ID with me, and waffle like a lunatic, but they offered me the job! Now to decide if I want it - or more if I can make it work for the ££. I do want to do it - if I can around the bairn.

Thank you all for the advice and tips!

MummySara Thu 12-Mar-15 08:40:06

That's lucky! What questions did they ask?

DustingOffTheDynastySuit Thu 12-Mar-15 10:01:26

They mostly asked for more examples of competencies I'd written about in my application.

Quite a bit of stuff about team management - how to motivate staff, what I'd do if a member of team was wrongly credited with praise, an example of when I'd worked in a large team and my role within that.

There was a written test at the beginning which was part of the 'Delivering at Pace' competency test, which I did feel I struggled with even though I know I read/write much much faster than most.

What I saw as the biggest challenges facing the department over the next year. Fortunately I'd got that one in my head.

What the news stories of the day were - and was able to turn that into a fairly informal chat about how the General Election may or may not affect them.

Some bits I obviously wanted to JUST STOP TALKING AND DIE, others I was quite pleased with.

BIggest problem is the position was advertised as having flexibility and it turns out there isn't really any, which I was hoping would be one of the main draws of a CS job.

They said I might not hear for 2 weeks and then called me 2 days later.

Hmm, lots to think about.

turkeyboots Thu 12-Mar-15 10:10:04

They want you, so negotiate! Civil service pay isn't great and nothing to be done on that I'm afraid. But they want you so make them an offer on flexible working. Getting approval to recruit externally is a nightmare, so you have leverage.

What can you make work? I work from home a lot, I have colleagues who do compressed week's, flexi time is normal.

turkeyboots Thu 12-Mar-15 10:11:03

Oh and well done!

DustingOffTheDynastySuit Fri 13-Mar-15 20:25:19

Nope, no flex at all. in fact the opposite of flex - full time office based position with short-notice travel. Unfeasible with DH who is also full time office based position with short-notice travel and 2 pre-schoolers.

Off to try and focus on the fact that an offer is a positive but actually drown my sorrows in a bottle of red

AnneElliott Fri 13-Mar-15 20:31:50

Well done on getting the interview. If there's a written test for comms, they'll probably want you to write some blurb for a website or drat some defensive lines to take.

I am a civil servant but I'm policy rather than comms.

Jbck Fri 13-Mar-15 20:43:18

What dept is it OP, if you don't mind divulging?

If you think you can work it for a while, prove yourself and see what chance you have of alternative working pattern, they have to consider a reasonable request at least and once you get a better idea of the role and office politics/logistics you'll be able to negotiate.

Also depends on grade too what flexibility there is. Short notice travel is often in ads just to cover themselves in case it happens. Applied for a job once that mentioned travel, contacted someone I knew there and she'd never travelled once in 4 years in almost identical role so sometimes its a failsafe so you can't say you weren't advised.

DustingOffTheDynastySuit Fri 13-Mar-15 21:07:08

It is at a non-London HQ for a national dept, don't want to say more!
Essentially the job was advertised with the usual CS family friendly/flexi time blurb, but at interview and follow up discussion there are no options for flexi time, home working or part time for this role. They concede that the ad was misleading.
The ad actually didn't mention travel, that came up at the end of the interview and when I went back after offer to see if there were any other options that could be explored.

Financially it doesn't add up for me, and there also does not seem to be much room for progression, so I think it means its a no. A shame.

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