Was job hunting always this complicated?
Success Profiles, Behaviours, Strengths, S.T.A.R Method, 250 Word Statements, Situational Judgement Tests, Personality Tests, the list goes on and on.
It does all seem so exhausting. It’s a full time job just trying to get a full time job.
But that is just the state of the job market these days and as job seekers we need to either play the game or get off the pitch.
And play the game we shall.
If you are reading this you are looking to learn more about the Civil Service application process – and in particular around what the Civil Service calls “Strengths”.
Well, good news. That is what this article is going to be discussing at length. Starting with what Success Profiles are, we will then dive into Strengths – finding out more about them, what they are, how they are assessed and most importantly “What Questions You Will Be Asked Around Strengths In Your Interview”.
Ready? Let’s get started
What are ‘Success Profiles’?
Before we dive into the Behaviours it’s probably best to look at the wider context. The Civil Service moved away from pure competency based processes and into these “Success Profiles” just a few years ago. Let’s hear why straight from the horse’s mouth:
The Success Profile Framework moves recruitment away from using a purely competency based system of assessment. It introduces a more flexible framework which assesses candidates against a range of elements using a variety of selection methods. This will give the best possible chance of finding the right person for the job, driving up performance and improving diversity and inclusivity.https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/717279/Success_Profiles_Overview_2018.pdf
So what makes up this new “Success Profile”?
Success Profiles as you can see from the above image encompass 5 key areas that all candidates are judged against:
Ability – Probably somewhat obvious. Are you capable of doing what the job asks you to do? This is usually a binary measurement. Straight up or down, yes or no, can the candidate do the job or not.
Experience – Have you done this before or are you new to the job? This particular element will vary in how it is assessed based on the role. The higher up the role the more experience they will expect you to have. Fresh graduates – not so much experience required, Senior Project Managers – lots of experience required.
Technical – Certain fields will require some level of technical knowledge. How are you going to prove that you possess this knowledge? Do you hold industry standard qualifications? can you evidence your technical knowledge through your career history? If called upon in an interview can you explain in depth your field and the field the job relates to? (this element is particularly relevant in Science fields, Engineering, IT Development)
Strengths – What we are here to discuss. This element is based on the theory that doing something regularly means we are better at it. So be prepared for questions like “What does your average day look like”, “What do you like to do in your spare time”, things like that. Your interviewer is trying to see how often you perform certain activities to see if you have “Strengths” as they define it.
Behaviours – I always compare Behaviours to personality traits. They look at the type of person we are and how that drives the actions we take, and whether we have the specific traits required for the job. There are 9 behaviours that are assessed within the framework. But don’t worry unless you are going for a very very senior role you are unlikely to be assessed on more than 3 or 4. Learn more about Civil Service Behaviours
So let’s take a deeper dive into strengths.
What are ‘Strengths’?
Let’s hear straight from the Civil Service’s own guidance again:
Strengths are the things that we do regularly, do well and that motivate us. There are three elements which determine whether something is a strength for an individual:
• Performance – they can perform an activity to a high capability or proficiency.https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/717274/CS_Strengths_2018.pdf
• Engagement – they feel motivated, enthused and empowered when doing the activity.
• Use – they do the activity regularly and as often as possible.
How are Strengths assessed?
The above picture shows in depth how Strengths are assessed. In simple terms the more engaged, the more comfortable, the more naturally and consistently you describe your aptitude for the strength in question, the higher you will score.
Civil Service Strength Questions Examples
What do you like to do in your spare time?
What energises you?
How would your close friends describe you?
Do you most like starting tasks or finishing them?
Do you prefer the big picture or the small details?
Describe a successful day. What made it successful?
What are you good at?
What are your weaknesses?
What did you enjoy studying at school or university?
When did you achieve something you’re really proud of?
What do you enjoy doing the least?
Do you find there are enough hours in the day to complete your to-do list?
What tasks are always left on your to-do list?
How do you stay motivated?
How do you feel about deadlines?
Get more (and example answers)
Tips for Answering Strength Questions
- Tell the truth. A lot of strength questions don’t have a right or wrong answer. The interviewer is just trying to see how you work and operate in various scenarios. Best to keep it honest and stay true to your genuine feelings.
- Keep it brief. These are not behavioural questions where the interviewer is expecting you to reel off a full example of a time you did something. Stick to what was asked and answer it in a clear and concise manner. You don’t need to give an overly long answer as you will need to…
- Prepare for follow-up questions. If the interviewer is experienced they WILL have follow-up questions. It is hard to know what these will be without knowing how you answer but make sure you are happy to elaborate on anything you say (this is also why it is so important to be completely forthright in your answers, you never know how deep the interviewer will dive into your answer).
What Are The 37 Strengths That Can Be Assessed?
Adaptable – You can adapt to variations in work or environment and your effectiveness isn’t impacted by change. You are flexible and versatile and act as an advocate for change.
Analytical – You seek and analyse information to inform decisions based on the best available evidence.
Authentic – You are self-aware and true to yourself in all situations, even when under pressure.
Catalyst – You are self-motivated to act to achieve a goal. You are confident using your own initiative to take forward actions.
Challenger – You can bring a fresh perspective whatever the situation or context. You see other people’s views and can appreciate there are many different angles to consider.
Change Agent – You are positive and inspirational in leading and supporting others through change.
Confident – You take charge of situations, people and decisions. You communicate confidently and give direction.
Courageous – You are an innovator who tries new approaches and pushes yourself to work outside your comfort zone.
Decisive – You use your judgement and take a considered approach to situations and tasks when making decisions.
Disciplined – You follow processes, operating firmly within set standards, rules and guidelines.
Efficient – You convert resources into results in the most efficient and economical way.
Emotionally Intelligent – You draw insight from your own emotions and those of others to demonstrate empathy.
Enabler – You see the potential in everybody and encourage them to learn, progress and develop.
Explainer – You communicate thoughts and ideas, verbally or in writing. You simplify complexities and adapt communication so others can understand.
Focussed – You strive for quality outcomes and excellence in everything you do.
Inclusive – You recognise everyone as an individual, accepting people for who they are and treating everyone fairly. You actively encourage and provide opportunities for others to share ideas and contributions.
Influencer – You influence others, you articulate the rationale to gain their agreement.
Improver – You look for better ways of doing things and enjoy coming up with new and original ideas.
Learner – You are inquisitive, you seek out new information and look for new ways to develop yourself.
Mediator – You provide stability and cohesion within teams, finding common ground and purpose. You enjoy collaborating with others to drive forward a shared goal.
Mission – You pursue things which give you a sense of meaning and purpose, working towards a longer term goal.
Motivator – You are highly driven and inspire others to move things along and make things happen.
Negotiator – You facilitate constructive discussions and enjoy getting all parties to reach an agreement.
Networker – You proactively create and maintain positive, professional and trusting working relationships with a wide range of people within and outside the organisation. You identify connections and reach out to bring people together.
Organiser – You make plans and are well prepared. You seek to maximise time and productivity.
Precise – You are detail-focussed, you ensure everything is accurate and error free.
Preventer – You think ahead to anticipate, identify and address any risks or problems before they occur.
Problem Solver – You take a positive approach to tackling problems and find ways to identify suitable solutions.
Relationship Builder – You quickly establish mutual respect and trust, building long lasting relationships with others.
Resilient – You have inner composure, recover quickly from setbacks and learn from them.
Responsible – You take ownership for your decisions and hold yourself accountable for what you have promised to deliver.
Service Focussed – You look for ways to serve customers putting their needs at the heart of everything you do.
Strategic – You look at the big picture and consider the wider factors and long term implications of decisions.
Team Leader – You are confident to lead a team and can effectively manage team dynamics to drive forward a shared goal. You take into consideration everyone’s individual needs and create a genuine team spirit.
Team Player – You work well as part of a team and strive to ensure the team pulls together and is effective.
Visionary – You create and share a clear vision of the future
You can read the Civil Service’s document on Success Profiles here, and their document on Strengths here.
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