Competencies based application forms / interviews

#1
After only ever having held 3 jobs, in continuous employment since leaving school, I've now encountered "competencies".
Whatever happened to firing off a CV, seeing if ignited interest then 'holding your own' at an interview?

Strikes me as being akin to having to learn a ConLang and being just an exercise in English literature / imagination.
Surely it cannot be right you have to actually "study" how to apply for a job you hold relevant experience in??

Are people now specifically trained in how to interpret and mark accordingly these 'competencies based applications'?
 

DTBA

Old-Salt
#2
The Civil Service, or at least the part I am familiar with, is now abandoning the competency framework and conducting “strength based” interviews. This resembles the traditional way of doing things. You’d send a CV in then get asked a few questions and discuss your specific experience and qualifications. As to when that change happens I don’t know, but probably in the next year or so.

To answer your last question - yes. In theory any civil servant with line manager or above responsibility can be pinged for an interview panel. They are given copies of the framework and attend training sessions on it. Interview candidates are ticked off (marks out of seven IIRC) to whatever competencies they are required to write about. Usually they’ll be two bands above whatever you’re applying for, with one person one band above. They will ask you questions about what you provided in the example boxes and you can have a copy of what you wrote in front of you.
 
#3
I feel your pain, bruv.

The trick to nailing competency based interviews is looking at the competencies the organisation focus on and then have a work based anecdote with you as the main protagonist. Follow the STAR method; situation, task, activity, result.

The anecdote doesn't even have to be real or true.

As an example for time keeping:

Situation. I was doing my normal duties and then I was asked to do another thing which was really important but was going to not be done in the time that the customer wanted.

Task. What you had to do, your role.

Activity. What you actually did. The strings you pulled. The extra hours you put in, etc...

Result. Describe how the customer wept with joy and your colleagues held you above their shoulders.

It's not pretty and seems robotic but that's the way things are. Hit me up if you've got any questions, I did nearly 20 of these the other year.
 
#4
The Civil Service, or at least the part I am familiar with, is now abandoning the competency framework and conducting “strength based” interviews. This resembles the traditional way of doing things. You’d send a CV in then get asked a few questions and discuss your specific experience and qualifications. As to when that change happens I don’t know, but probably in the next year or so.

To answer your last question - yes. In theory any civil servant with line manager or above responsibility can be pinged for an interview panel. They are given copies of the framework and attend training sessions on it. Interview candidates are ticked off (marks out of seven IIRC) to whatever competencies they are required to write about. Usually they’ll be two bands above whatever you’re applying for, with one person one band above. They will ask you questions about what you provided in the example boxes and you can have a copy of what you wrote in front of you.
Thanks,

Wife currently works for DWP but is being "promoted" after her applying for a HMRC role. All competencies based as of a few weeks ago.
I'm having trouble translating any of the competencies to things I experienced in the mob without either using jargon or appearing to 'big myself up'.
 
#6
Thanks,

Wife currently works for DWP but is being "promoted" after her applying for a HMRC role. All competencies based as of a few weeks ago.
I'm having trouble translating any of the competencies to things I experienced in the mob without either using jargon or appearing to 'big myself up'.
Sadly, 'bigging yourself up' is a key part of competency-based applications. Look at your examples and try to replace 'we' with 'I' as much as possible. It doesn't feel right but other applicants will be selling themselves that way.
 

DTBA

Old-Salt
#7
Thanks,

Wife currently works for DWP but is being "promoted" after her applying for a HMRC role. All competencies based as of a few weeks ago.
I'm having trouble translating any of the competencies to things I experienced in the mob without either using jargon or appearing to 'big myself up'.
The big thing to remember is “I”

Edit: Beaten to it. It’s really quite the opposite of what you would expect, but they are looking for the candidate to talk about themselves. “We” should only really be used in the end: “We all made it through the day because I am so great and Whitehall would grind to a halt if it wasn’t for me”
 
#8
How can I possibly transpose anything from a warship ops room experience into this without using Jargon/terminology?

I "zip-lipped" Redcrown down the gulf and also suggested changes that were later implemented locally wrt radar switching during an encounter...
 
#9
There'll be a pdf somewhere which explains what emotional awareness is. Other than that, the STAR method fits fine.

I agree with what others have said. The work examples have to make it sound like you're the only one who knew what they were doing or did anything to sort out the problem.
 
#10
Cheers, I've downloaded the "competencies framework". "emotionally aware" for example has several other sub-sections/requirements. Should I give a situation as an example using every different one, separately or...incorporate all into one big block of waffle? Uploading example 2 secs...
 
#11
How can I possibly transpose anything from a warship ops room experience into this without using Jargon/terminology?

I "zip-lipped" Redcrown down the gulf and also suggested changes that were later implemented locally wrt radar switching during an encounter...
You can talk about processes, equipment, missions and operations in the vaguest terms. Ultimately, you could give them an example from when you were stacking bananas during the summer after your 16th birthday and so long as you hit the competency markers, you're laughing.

We both know that the evidence of your value and worth to an organisation sits in your cv but it's the interview routine which counts.
 
#12
Should I supply an "example" for each individual point?
 
#13
Cheers, I've downloaded the "competencies framework". "emotionally aware" for example has several other sub-sections/requirements. Should I give a situation as an example using every different one, separately or...incorporate all into one big block of waffle? Uploading example 2 secs...
Have one anecdote per competency and try not to repeat anecdotes. If you have to, make it sound as if it's totally a new situation.
 
#14
As stated above answer in the star format.
Q1. Sad incident happened. I was required to ensure that mental health issues of staff were addressed. Provided direct support by talking through the incident. Provided signpost to available support services. Resulting in securing the emotional and mental wellbeing of staff member.
Q2. Cock up occurred. Took control of situation ensuring cock up resolved . Assured client that we accepted responsibility for cock up, but we had resolved it to their satisfaction. Put in place process to ensure couldn't happen again. Client happy, situation resolved and ensure that no repeat could occur.
Q3 process failed to deliver expected outcome (insert failure here). Broke down the process delivery into individual steps identified point of failure and instituted new updated process. Issue resolved improved service delivery to client.

Basically make up some bollocks that fits the format and have some additional made up material to back up your marvellous star examples.

Good luck
 
#16
You can improvise a bit. Also, talk about technical issues in as broad / general terms as possible.
Emotionally aware would be something like noticing that someone on your team wasn't performing as well as usual and also wasn't themself. That was having a negative impact on the team's efficiency and morale (that's the 'problem' defined).
You spoke to them in private. You said you had noticed they were not as effective as usual. You asked were they OK? Did they want to share anything with you? Turns out they were suffering from (insert issue) which is causing them anxiety. You empathised, offered support. You went away and researched how you could make adjustments to their work pattern/tasks to assist them dealing with the issue. You put changes in place (that's the 'what I did to sort things out' part).
As a result of your actions, the team member is managing their issue better, he/she is productive and the team is happy and efficient. You have told the wider team about how to seek support if needed (that's the outcome part).
That's over-simplified. You probably have examples where you have helped colleagues which you can write up that way, cutting out the precise service-related stuff.
 
#17
One anecdote should hit as many of those markers as possible.
Cheers, that's what I was wondering- should I spin one dit per "marker" or do a "job lot one".

This all seems incredibly....bullshit! Does this method of filtering for candidates actually work, in practice??
 
#18
Thanks,

Wife currently works for DWP but is being "promoted" after her applying for a HMRC role. All competencies based as of a few weeks ago.
I'm having trouble translating any of the competencies to things I experienced in the mob without either using jargon or appearing to 'big myself up'.
Bigging yourself up is absolutely what you must do. The golden rule these days is not to talk about what "we" achieved, i.e. the team, it is about what "I" achieved and you must do this. The steps are to go for "the situation was this, so I planned to fix it like this, and that is what I did and as a result of what I did everything was then better and the company benefited by making more money" etc.

It sounds big headed and not very British but there you go. Thankfully I am coming towards the end of my career and out of the Corporate BS world, I will miss it not one jot and what a shame it has all become. When I got my first job in civvy street it was not like this kind of rehearsed routine, they know you have practiced your script and you know they are going to run through it, bollocks to the lot of them.
 
#19
Cheers, that's what I was wondering- should I spin one dit per "marker" or do a "job lot one".

This all seems incredibly....bullshit! Does this method of filtering for candidates actually work, in practice??
Sorry for replying when not addressed to me. Do one story for each competency. In theory you could do one story for all competencies but I have never seen it tried and it might seem as if you had few examples of you doing well at work to choose from.
It is bollocks but you get used to it.
 
#20
This all seems incredibly....bullshit! Does this method of filtering for candidates actually work, in practice??
It's very dependent on the board. Don’t forget this is just to get you through the paper sift. The real selection part is the interview. You should be fully up to speed on the content of your competencies, but have extra ammo stored to expand on them.
If you know your stuff you'll be good to go.
Finally remember the board are free to explore what ever you tell them, so try and lead their questions where you want them to go.
 

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