Top tips for interviews

So you’ve passed the e-tray? Congratulations! You’re doing great!

Here are our top tips for the next stage… the video interview!

What to expect

· The video interview will be looking at your experience and also what you enjoy and find motivating.

· The interview lasts approximately 20 minutes, consisting of 8 questions.

· You’ll have 2 minutes to record your answer to the first 7 questions, and 1 minute for the last question. You will have 1 minute to read the question before the recording for each answer begins.

· Your responses are recorded on a video platform.

· You can use a PC, laptop, tablet or mobile phone.

· There are short introductory guidance videos on the platform.

· A practice question is included and you can record your response to this question as often as you wish.

· You can only record your responses to the actual questions once. No do-overs!

· Don’t expect follow-up questions.

How to prepare

· The interview focuses on the following Civil Service competencies: Collaborating and Partnering, Building Capability for All, Managing a Quality Service, Delivering at Pace.

· You can read about each of the competencies here: You should be aiming to demonstrate the HEO/SEO level behaviours.

· Prepare real-life examples based on your experience. Your experience doesn’t have to be work-related. For example, you might have demonstrated working in a team on a uni project or social club.

· Practice your examples in the STAR format to keep your responses clear, succinct and within the timeframe. Focus on what YOU did. Don’t use ‘we’ or ‘the team’.

S — Situation, background set the scene
T — Task or Target, specifics of what’s required, when, where, who
A — Action, what you did, skills used, behaviours, characteristics
R — Result — Outcome, what happened?

· Ask a friend or family member to listen to your examples and time you to make sure you don’t overrun. 2 minutes should be plenty to explain what you did if you use the STAR technique and avoid waffling!

Example questions

· Why do you want to join the Fast Stream?

· What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your professional or personal life? How did you overcome it?

· What is your greatest achievement and why?

· Why is diversity important?

· Give an example of a team you participated in which performed well (/badly) and explain why it performed well (/badly)?

· How do you deal with deadlines?

· Give an example of a time when you have been out of your comfort zone

· Have you ever been given constructive criticism and how did you deal with it? Did you think that it was deserved, relevant?

· Have you ever helped someone else reach an objective or to achieve a task?

· Give an example of a time you have worked with people from a different background

· What is an area of weakness you have identified in yourself and how have you taken steps to improve?

· Give an example of a time you have used your initiative and what was the result

· What aspect of the Civil Service most attracts you to working within it?

· Give an example of a situation when you had to motivate somebody else to put in effort

· Give an example of a situation when you had to learn a new skill

· Give an example of a situation in which you had to improve on something that was initially your weakness

· Give an example of a time when you were in a challenging situation where you had to adapt

· Have you ever been thrown in at the deep end in a job or other situation?

· Tell me about a time when you ‘put yourself into someone else’s shoes’ to understand their perspective?

· Can you give me an example of a time when you changed your mind about how to proceed with a project or course of action?

· What do you see as the main challenges and benefits of working with other specialists?

On the day

· Make sure you are in a quiet environment.

· Set aside an hour when you’re free from distractions.

· Make sure you are presentable — dress like you would for a normal interview.

· Have adequate lighting in the room you’re in.

· Take advantage of the practice question to make any adjustments to your video or audio to make sure you can be seen and heard clearly.

We hope that is helpful. Let us know if you have any other questions.