‘Communicating and Influencing’ 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 project 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 ‘Communicate and Influence’ 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 ‘Communicating and Influencing’ 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 Communicating and Influencing
- 2 How Will Communicating and Influencing Be Assessed
- 3 How To Complete Your 250 Word Statement Example
- 4 During the Interview Stage
- 5 Communicating and Influencing Interview Questions
- 6 In the Assessment Centre
- 7 Communicating and Influencing – FAQ
What is Communicating and Influencing
We can’t show off our abilities if we don’t understand what it is we are being assessed on.
Fundamentally ‘Communicating and Influencing’ is looking at how well you come across when delivering information to other people and how likely those people are to take what you say to heart. You will be assessed in two main ways. Firstly, how well do you convey information? Are you concise and easy to understand? Or do you tend to ramble on and detract from the original point? This behaviour isn’t just about your speech it is about all communication; emails, memos, position papers, etc.
Secondly, are you able to tailor your message to your audience and have them accept what you are telling them?
How Will Communicating and Influencing 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
Now those of you who have applied to the Civil Service in the past will be aware that a lot of the advertised roles do not allow you to upload your CV direct. Instead they ask for you to copy and paste relevant sections into the the boxes on their form. Make sure you follow the instructions and remove any identifiable content as this will result in your application being automatically rejected (many many people learn that the hard way!)
Even though you don’t need a traditional CV when applying at the Civil Service I still recommend that you keep an up-to-date copy available as I find that some jobs do ask for them and often some jobs will ask for them prior to the interview stage. Plus they come in handy for you to copy and paste the relevant sections into the form!
If you need help with your CV send it over to us using the form below and we will let you know how it stacks up:
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 Communicating and Influencing 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 your audience to truly understand what was being conveyed (i.e. you successfully Communicated and Influenced!)
Communicating and Influencing 250 Word Statement Example
Here is a pretty decent 250 word example for Communicating and Influencing. This scored 6 out of 7 in a recent interview. Do you see where you could improve on this?
Get access to more examples by clicking here
How To Complete Your 250 Word 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.
Click here to learn more about the Civil Service 250 Word Statements PLUS get access to 9 example statements to use as inspiration
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 “Communicating and Influencing” 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.
Communicating and Influencing Interview Questions
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 needed to convince a difficult stakeholder that your method was the correct one?
Tell me about a time when you needed to communicate bad news to a colleague or stakeholder?
When someone is trying to influence you to make a decision, what do you look for in their communication strategy?
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.
Communicating and Influencing – 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 mention your stakeholder management skills. 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 Communicating and Influencing 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 ‘Communicating and Influencing’ 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 Communicating and Influencing?
Make sure to read the Civil Service document on behaviours. 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:.
Seeing the Big Picture – Assessing the candidates ability to understand how their actions impact other people/teams and the wider organisation. Learn more…
Making Effective Decisions – Assessing the candidates ability to source and then weigh up different options and recommend the best solution. Learn more…
Communicating and Influencing – Assessing the candidates ability to get their views across and get people on board with their way of thinking. Learn more…
Changing and Improving – Assessing the candidates ability to identify areas of improvement and assessing their motivation to implement these changes. Learn more…
Working Together – Assessing the candidates ability to work well with others. Learn more…
Developing Self and Others – Assessing the candidates drive for self-improvement via learning new skills and the impact this drive has on others. Learn more…
Managing a Quality Service – Assessing the candidates drive to produce high quality work and meet stakeholders needs. Learn more…
Delivering at Pace – Assessing the candidates ability to produce quality deliverables on time and within budget under limiting circumstances. Learn more…
Leadership – Assessing the candidates ability to lead a team and to motivate others. Learn more…
How do I complete the personal statement portion of the Civil Service application?