Top Tips from Civil Service Commissioners

At our open events the most popular part of the session is undoubtedly when Commissioners talk about their top tips when applying for a post in the senior Civil Service.

Here a quick round up from our recent open events:

Jane Burgess

“First off, do what is set out in the pack. Contact the vacancy holder and find out about the role. It’s a chance to see if it’s a role you really want, and to talk about the context and ask questions of someone in the team already. Take that opportunity if you think you might want the job. Secondly, make sure you complete the diversity monitoring form. You can always say ‘prefer not to say’. It’s a really important tool for the Civil Service and the Commission to monitor candidates’ progress throughout the process."

Isabel Doverty

“If you get to the interview stage, well done…but please don’t forget that the panel interview is only one part of the whole process. While a three or four person panel interview can sound pretty daunting, the Commissioner and other panel members are only there to make the right decision. They aren’t trying to catch you out; they genuinely want to hear and see more about you.”

Natalie Campbell

“The key to a good interview is preparation, preparation, preparation. There’s no point winging it. Candidates need to show they have researched the Department and the job area. Prepare some examples that you can use to illustrate your experience. Look hard at the essential criteria and identify any gaps there are in your own skills or experience. How might you address them? Most candidates don’t tick every box…so demonstrate that you have thought about any gaps.”

Jan Cameron

"For every interview, it’s important to do some planning in advance and really think carefully about the evidence you can describe against all the essential components of the role.  As well as examples of things that have gone well and that you are proud of, it is also really helpful to think about things that haven’t gone according to plan.  How did you respond? What could you have done differently? What did you learn?  The panel like to see you are self-aware and focused on your own personal development as well as that of others."


We will be holding more open events with Commissioners in 2020. Keep an eye on our website or email info@csc.gov.uk to express your interest.

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