‘Changing and Improving’ is part of the Civil Service ‘Success Profiles’ framework. It is one of 9 core behaviours that can be tested. Most commonly it will be tested within leadership or performance based roles.
As it is a core behaviour it can be assessed in a number of ways and, just as importantly, it can be assessed at any stage of the recruitment process. This includes (but is not limited to):
- Your CV
- Your application answers
- During the interview
- As a standalone exercise
- During a presentation
- At an assessment centre
What I am getting at is that if the job advert says that you will be assessed on your ability to ‘Change and Improve’ you need to make sure you convey your abilities whenever the opportunity arises.
That is why in this article I am going to explain exactly what ‘Changing and Improving’ means. I am going to look at what it is your assessor/interviewer is expecting of you in the application and interview stages PLUS what might occur in an assessment centre should you be invited to one. Then finally I will attempt to answer some of the common questions that arise when discussing this particular behaviour. (if you have any questions do not hesitate to contact us)
- 1 What is Changing and Improving
- 2 How Will Changing and Improving Be Assessed
- 3 Changing and Improving Interview Questions
- 4 In the Assessment Centre
- 5 Changing and Improving – FAQ
What is Changing and Improving
We can’t show off our abilities if we don’t understand what it is we are being assessed on.
Fundamentally ‘Changing and Improving’ is looking at your ability to look at current processes or methodologies and find new ways to improve on them, either by making them more efficient or by providing greater value. There are two key areas that your interviewers will be assessing you on. First is your ability to notice where things can be improved, where the current process can be changed for the better. There is a big drive on at the moment to turn all paper based processes into digital processes and to turn all manual processes into fully or partially automated process – so try and hammer home your abilities here.
The second thing you will be assessed on is your drive. Your ambition. How motivated are you to change things? Are you the type of person who will see where improvements can be made but not call it out because “it’s not my job” or are you a self-starter who will take the initiative and change things for the better? (HINT – your assessors will be looking for the latter!)
How Will Changing and Improving Be Assessed
I said before that the core behaviours can be tested at any stage of the application process. The vast majority of the time you will be made aware of when you are being assessed as you will be told by your interviewers (either on the application or in the assessment centre or interview stage). Let’s look at the occasions where you will most likely be assessed on this behaviour:
On your CV
Submit Your CV For Review
During the Application Process
During the application process you will be asked to spend up to 250 words describing your skills and experience as it pertains to each behaviour that is being tested.
That means you will have 250 words to show the assessor that you:
Know what Changing and Improving means
Have applicable skills and experience to showcase
Can effectively communicate your skills
250 words is not a lot of space when you are trying to get a point across. For reference this entire article is c.1500 words long, and I would say it is one of the shorter pieces I have written.
The recommended strategy for completing these statements is to use the STAR system
S – situation
T – task
A – action
R – result
What was going on?
What was the goal?
What did you specifically do?
How did it all play out?
The best advice for completing these statements is to spend the bulk of your word allowance on A & R. Actions & Results.
No need to get bogged down in world building. Just set the scene quickly, say what was happening and what you’d been asked to do. Then focus on the activities you picked up and why you picked them up. Then round it off by confirming how your actions allowed you to make impacting positive changes (i.e. you successfully Changed and Improved!)
Changing and Improving 250 Word Statement Example
Here is a fantastic 250 Word Example that recent got a candidate a 7 out of 7 in their assessment. Try and see where they succeeded so you can follow in their path.
How to Complete Your Own 250 Statement Example
There are many ways you can structure your 250 word statement. The one we find creates the best and most consistent statements is the B-STAR method. If you use the below structure when writing your statement you can be sure that you will hit all the key points that the assessors are looking for.
During the Interview Stage
If you are reading this now because you have scored a Civil Service Interview and are looking to see what you might be asked. First off congrats on getting this far. This means you are on the shortlist for the role. But the hard work doesn’t stop here, you need to hammer home your skills and experience even more so in the interview than at any point in the application process so far.
If the job advert said that you will be assessed on the behaviour “Changing and Improving” you can be 90% certain that you will receive a question that will be directly about this behaviour.
It is important when you attend a competency based interview that you have multiple ‘stories’ to tell for each behaviour. You need to then choose the story that fits the question the best and use that.
Similar to the application process when answering questions in the interview it is recommended to use the STAR system
However unlike the application process you are not limited to 250 words. Generally the interviewers will be expecting you to talk through your answers for at least 5 minutes (most interviewers will tell you how long they expect your answers to be so play off what they tell you).
This additional time gives you the ability to get more in-depth about your experience. It is still advisable to spend most of your time on A – actions & R – results.
But this time when you are describing what it is you did you should drill down into why you did what you did and why you thought that was the best option. Were there other options that you could have gone with? Why were they not chosen? Etc.
These are some of the questions that I have personally seen asked during a competency based interview. How well do you think you can answer them?
Tell me about a time when you have identified an opportunity for improvement within your processes?
Tell me about a time when you have challenged the usual way of doing things to make things easier for the customer or for fellow colleagues?
How do you ensure that individuals in your team are inspired to change and improve?
In the Assessment Centre
Assessment centre evaluations have fallen out of favour as of late, they are now usually reserved for entry level roles where there are lots of jobs available and lots of applicants to sort. Say for example a new customer service centre is opening and they require 100 colleagues to take inbound calls.
When you go to an assessment centre evaluation you will be put into a team alongside your fellow candidates. Then as a team you will be given a scenario and will be asked to come up with a plan on how best to achieve an objective.
It doesn’t really matter what the scenario is or what the objective is. The tips you need to follow are:
– Highlight the blockers – there will be parts of the scenario designed to slow you down
– Understand the success factors – you will not be able to deliver a 100% perfect solution so ensure you know what the important factors are and ensure you deliver them
– Do not hog all of the work and do not sabotage your teammates – this happens all of the time in these group evaluation sessions. Applicants think if they take on all of the hard work or make their other applicants look bad then they are more likely to get the role. But in fact the opposite is true. The assessors in these places have seen it all before. They are looking for team players. People who can provide value to the organisation efficiently and without issue. If you show yourself to be incapable of working with others you will not progress.
– Remember to showcase your results – you’ve put in all the work so make sure you show and highlight to your assessors how your efforts paid off.
Changing and Improving – FAQ
Should my statement/answer change based on the job role?
Yes, different job roles will come with different responsibilities. If you are going for a Team or Project Manager level role then you should tailor your answer to say how you instilled in your team the desire to change things for the better. If you are going for an even senior level role (operations manager or a director level role) then you need to talk about how you instil the behaviour of Changing and Improving into your department as a whole. I recommend reading the behaviours document linked here for more information.
Do my answers have to be relevant to the job itself?
Strictly speaking, no. There will be plenty of opportunities for you to talk about your experience in the role so don’t worry if your ‘Changing and Improving’ example is about something unrelated to the industry. If you are going for a, let’s say, Delivery Driver position it might be difficult to come up with a time when you’ve had to understand the company’s goals, but maybe you have outside experience that might be relevant. Go with that instead.
Obviously if you have a direct example that mirrors the job description that would be great but don’t sweat it if you don’t just find something that covers the behaviour itself.
Where can I learn more about Changing and Improving?
Make sure to read the Civil Service document on behaviors. And don’t be afraid to ask your assessors what it is they are looking for. Worst case scenario they say they can’t give feedback, best case you find out exactly what you need for your next application.
Where Can I Learn More About The Civil Service Behaviours?
We have gone into detail about the Civil Service Behaviours in this post here. If you would like to learn more about any individual behaviour check out the posts below:.
How do I complete the personal statement portion of the Civil Service application?