Civil Service Success Profiles: a Complete Candidate's Guide 2024

The Civil Service Success Profiles is a modern recruitment framework that aims to attract and retain the best talent for the Civil Service. This framework has been developed in response to the changing needs of the workforce and the desire to hire individuals with the right skills, experience, and behaviours to succeed in the Civil Service. 

The Success Profiles framework comprises five elements - Behaviours, Strengths, Ability, Experience, and Technical Skills. 

The current article will explore the Success Profiles framwork in detail and provide all the details you must know before proceeding with your application process.

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What Are the Civil Service Success Profiles?

The Success Profiles framework is a system developed by the UK Civil Service to assess candidates for job roles based on their experience, behaviours, abilities, strengths, and technical skills. It was introduced in 2018 to replace the previous Civil Service competency framework.

Each job role in the Civil Service is mapped to a set of Success Profiles, which provide a clear understanding of the skills, knowledge, and behaviours required for success in that role. Candidates are assessed against these profiles during the application and selection process.

Here's the complete success profiles model diagram, taken from the official Civil Service site:


Success Profiles

Detailed Overview of the Success Profiles Key Elements

The elements that can be assessed in the success profiles framwork to find the best candidate for the role are Behaviours, Experiences, Strengths, Technical Skills, and Abilities. Not all elements are relevant to every role, so the makeup of the Success Profile should be different for different job types to improve the chances of getting the best person for the position. 

Each element can be assessed in various ways, differing from one position to another.  Also, the level of the position you're applying to will affect this assessment. For example, the Behaviour element will focus on different characteristics and be based on different measurement tools between candidates for director or junior positions. 

Let's take a deep look at each of the Success Profiles elements:

The assessment of the "Ability" element is conducted to determine your suitability for a particular type of work and forecast your future performance. This helps recruiting managers assess whether you have the necessary skills required for the job and whether you are fit for the kind of work performed in the Civil Service.

The evaluation of "Ability" is commonly done using online psychometric tests and is frequently carried out at the initial stages of the recruitment process.

The most frequently used tests in the Civil Service are the Verbal Reasoning Test (VRT) and the Numerical Reasoning Test (NRT), which gauge your verbal and numerical capabilities, respectively.

The tests are automated, and you will receive information on whether you have attained the required pass mark. However, passing these tests is not the only selection criteria, and you will be provided with information on the subsequent steps in the recruitment process.

"Technical" refers to the demonstration of specific professional skills, knowledge, or qualifications. With over 20 professions in the Civil Service, a diverse range of specialized roles are available, each with unique requirements for skills, knowledge, and qualifications, as defined by each Head of Profession.

Various assessment methods may be employed to evaluate your technical skills, such as:

  • Application forms
  • CVs
  • Interviews
  • Technical presentations and exercises
  • Technical tests
  • Work samples
  • In-tray exercises
  • Job-related simulations
  • Oral briefing exercises
  • Written analysis or exercises
  • Assessment centers

If a specific qualification or professional membership is required for a position, you may be asked to provide evidence of your qualifications or membership.

Behaviours are the actions and activities that people do which result in effective performance in a job. Behaviours can be assessed in a number of ways and at various stages of the recruitment process, including: CV, Tests, Interview, 
Job simulation, Role-play, Assessment centre, etc.

For example, on sample for the Behaviour Element assessment is the Civil Service Judgement Test, and the Civil Service Management Judgement Test.

The main behaviours assessed in Success Profiles are:

  • Seein the big picture
  • Changing and improving 
  • Making effectice decisions
  • Leadership
  • Communicating and influencing
  • Working together
  • Developing self and other
  • Managing a quality service
  • Delivering at pace

"Strengths" refer to the activities or behaviors that we excel in, enjoy doing, and find motivating. The Civil Service Strengths Dictionary comprises defined strengths that are relevant to our culture and work type, regardless of grade.

When evaluating your strengths, The Civil Servie aim to determine whether you are a suitable fit for the organization or job role.

There are three criteria to consider when assessing strengths:

  • Performance: the ability to perform an activity or behavior at a high level of skill or proficiency.
  • Engagement: feeling motivated, enthusiastic, and empowered when engaging in the activity.
  • Frequency of use: performing the activity regularly and frequently.

Various methods can be used to evaluate strengths, such as: Interviews,  Recorded video interviews, Customized situational strengths tests, Simulation assessments, Personality tests.

For more in-depth information about the different Strenghts the Civil Service are looking for, check their offical paper.

Experience refers to the knowledge and skills acquired through participation in or exposure to an activity or subject. In the Civil Service, Experience is typically a prerequisite for senior or professional positions. When assessing your experience for a job, The Civil Service Authorities focus on relevant accomplishments or expertise in a particular field, rather than the duration of your involvement. It's possible for Experience to be transferable from non-work contexts, and skills developed through hobbies or voluntary work, such as teamwork or communication, can demonstrate the experience necessary for the role.

Experience can be assessed in 3 ways:

  • Application Form
  • CV
  • Interview

What Tests I'll Likely Need to Take As Part Of the Success Profiles Framework?

As part of your recruitment process for the UK Civil Service, you may be asked to take several ability tests or just one, depending on the job and its requirements. 

Here is a list of few of them – 

Tips to Help Your Application Stand Out in Light of the Success Profiles

  • Familiarise yourself with the Success Profiles Framework: The first step to excelling in these tests is understanding what the Success Profiles Framework is all about. Familiarise yourself with the key competencies and behaviours that are assessed in the framework, and make sure you know how these competencies relate to the role you are applying for.
  • Make sure which tests you are about to take: Within the Succuss Profiles Framework, there are tons of different tests and assessments which differ from each other based on the position you'll apply to. You must know which tests you are about to take and adapt your preparation process to them.
  • Pay attention to the instructions: It's essential to pay close attention to the instructions for each test. Ensure you understand what you are being asked to do and the time limits for each task. Take your time to read and understand the questions before you begin answering them.
  • Practice, practice, practice: Finally, the key to excelling in these tests is practising, practising, practising. There are many resources available online that offer practice tests and sample questions, including here at JobTestPrep. You can take advantage of these resources to familiarise yourself with the format and style of the trials and to identify areas where you may need to improve.

Success Profiles Interviews – What to Expect & How to Prepare

Success ProfilesInterviews (SPIs) are a type of interview commonly used by UK's Civil Service to assess a candidate's competencies and potential for success in a specific role. Unlike traditional interviews, which focus on a candidate's past experiences and qualifications, SPIs are designed to evaluate a candidate's behavioral traits, skills, and abilities that are directly relevant to the role.

What to Expect:

During an SPI, the interviewer will ask a series of questions that are aligned with the competencies required for the role. These questions will typically start with phrases like "Tell me about a time when..." or "Describe a situation where...". The interviewer will be looking for specific examples of how the candidate has demonstrated these competencies in past experiences. The questions may be open-ended and require the candidate to provide detailed responses.

How to Prepare:

To prepare for an Success Profile Interviews, it is essential to thoroughly review the job description and understand the competencies required for the role. The candidate should then identify specific examples from their past experiences that demonstrate these competencies. It is essential to be able to provide detailed responses to questions and provide clear examples to illustrate your skills and abilities.

The STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) is a useful framework for answering behavioral interview questions. This method involves describing the situation, the task or problem that needed to be addressed, the action taken to resolve the issue, and the outcome or result achieved. Using this framework can help ensure that responses are structured and provide the necessary level of detail.

Success Profile Interview