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Civil Service Informal chat - what does this actually mean?

(4 Posts)
ijustwanttobeme Sun 21-Jun-15 18:32:26

I work for a London Local Authority and have applied for a secondment in the Civil Service (SEO grade).

Well, actually I'm already on a secondment (EO grade) to the same Civil Service department, which ends in September. For this, I did not have to apply to them as such, as I was chosen for the role following a very basic expression of interest submitted to my HOD at the LA.

Bearing in mind, SEO is two grades higher than my current role, I was bloody surprised to received an email on Friday asking me to attend an 'informal chat as to the role and what we would be looking for you to cover'.

Can someone tell me how informal this chat could be, what it could entail? Is this a precursor to any formal interview offer, depending on if they like what I have to say?

Plus how should I dress? I am working in the morning and going up for the chat in the afternoon. I normally wear something along the lines of a shift or A line dress, moderate heels and a cardi. Will that do?

I haven't applied for any (real) jobs in over 15 years and am so out of practice

sarahbanshee Sun 21-Jun-15 18:42:17

It genuinely means informal - there will be a proper, not to say endless, formal selection process with an interview but this is a chat first to get a feel for who you are and give you the chance to ask about the role. It's worth trying to impress as it will stand you in good stead come the formal process (and conversely if you are awful they would count it against you in the formal process) but it isn't officially part of it. It is a good opportunity and a good sign!

What you usually wear sounds fine to me - maybe for your own confidence wear your favourite earrings or whatever would make you feel like "you, but on a good day".

Good luck!

ijustwanttobeme Sun 21-Jun-15 20:23:40

thanks sarah

I'm so shocked that I even got through the sift, as I only applied on a whim and at the very last minute.

pressone Sun 21-Jun-15 21:40:07

Different civil service departments have very different ideas about the work an SEO grade should cover and you may very well have the experience they are looking for even though it may sound a huge leap in grades.

In my current department an EO does not line manage, and only has responsibility for themselves, no stakeholder engagement, no corporate representation (apart from not bringing the department into disrepute) and no budgetary responsibility. In my previous department an EO managed up to 18 staff, had to engage professionally with outside political and commercial bodies and had commercial and budgetary responsibility. The SEOs in my current department don't have the same level of responsibility as the EOs in my last. The step you are taking may not be as huge as you are perceiving it to be.

A smart shift dress with medium heels and a jacket rather than a cardi sounds, and will make you feel and appear professional - I would go with that. How informal the chat is depends on the style of the person in charge so I can't comment on that.

Your competencies are clearly good enough to get them interested so it sounds very positive. Good luck.

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