Why Choose a Career in the Civil Service? How to Answer Brilliantly Plus Skills and How to Apply

Go to Blog Home | By: Joe McDermott | Updated: 6 April, 2024 | Category: Careers, How to Answer

Why choose a career in the civil service?

Why do you want to work for the Civil Service? This is one of the top interview questions asked in most Civil Service interviews especially for those entering.

You may also be asked why do you want to work in this department for example, DWP, HMRC, MOD etc.

Answering these questions successfully are key. Not just will they want to see you motivation for applying to the Civil Service, they will also want to gauge your suitability.

A career in the civil service offers exciting opportunities

Choosing a career in the Civil Service will open the door to a whole host of exciting opportunities, especially when it comes to exploring a wide range of career paths.

Offering exceptional scope to develop, enjoy flexible working and a number of workplace benefits, there’s lots of reasons why embarking on a career in the Civil Service UK is a fulfilling and rewarding career option.

If you’re considering a career in the Civil Service, you have certainly landed in the right place. Here are just some of the reasons why choosing a career in the Civil Service will not disappoint.

The responsibilities of a civil servant

Civil Servants help create and put into action Government policies, whilst helping inform decisions on complex issues across various sectors.

Here are some of a Civil Servant’s responsibilities:

  • Conducting Research and Analysis
  • Policy Drafting
  • Policy Implementation
  • Delivery of Public Service
  • Direct Service Provision
  • Project Management
  • Providing Expert Advice
  • Policy Advice
  • Regulation and Enforcement

Why Choose a Career in the Civil Service?

You may be asked this question on your application or in your interview. It is a very common civil service interview question and variations can include:

  • Why have you applied to the Civil Service?
  • Why do you want to work in this department? (eg DWP, HMRC, MOD, Education etc)
  • What skills will you bring to the Civil Service?

Your motivation will be key. Not just in being able to answer clearly but also from the point of your own career planing and aspirations.

To help you answer this tough interview question or even with your planning, here are a number of different reasons why you should choose a career in the Civil Service including the following:

Make a Difference: Encompassing a wide range of sectors, including everything from education and healthcare right through to defence and other core public services that we need day to day, it goes without saying that Civil Servants can make a huge difference to the lives of others.

A Stable Career: One of the main advantages of embarking on a career in the Civil Service UK is that it provides an unprecedented amount of security, stability, as well as benefits such as enviable pensions and healthcare.

Choose from a variety of different roles: The Civil Service encompasses a vast variety of different fields, meaning you are sure to find a role that meets your individual interests and skillset.

A better work-life balance: A career in the Civil Service offers flexible working, meaning you can enjoy a healthier work-life balance.

Opportunities to progress: The Civil Service offers many opportunities for training and development, meaning you can work towards achieving your career goals, learning new skills and gaining new experiences.

What skills and abilities are required for a Civil Service career?

There are number of skills and abilities that are required for candidates to enjoy a successful career in the Civil Service UK.

These include the following:

  • The ability to gather information for reports and policies
  • Possess excellent teamwork skills
  • Demonstrate the ability to collaborate for success
  • Forge strong relationships with others
  • Possess strong negotiation skills
  • Demonstrate the ability to project manage effectively
  • Possess excellent planning and organisation skills
  • Time management skills
  • A commitment to serving the public
  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Proficiency in using various computer software and digital tools
  • A commitment to continuous learning

Who is suited to a post in the Civil Service?

As the Civil Service is a broad and varied working landscape, there’s lots of opportunities to explore and discover a vast range of different roles!

However, there are a number of attributes that all candidates looking to embark on a career in the Civil Service must have in a common.

Motivated to serve the public – If you are motivated to serve the public and make a difference to public services in the UK, this is the career for you.

Are you a team player? – If you are considering a career in the Civil Service, it’s important that you are a team player and happy to collaborate with employees and partners when required.

Are you an Analytical Thinker? Analytical thinkers do incredibly well working within the Civil Service. This is because many Civil Service roles require employees to manoeuvre complex problems and pinpoint effective solutions to these problems.

An Effective Communicator: Civil Service Roles are best suited to excellent communicators. In all aspects of a Civil Service role, you will be expected to communicate well.

A fast learner: As the Civil Service is constantly evolving and changing, it’s important that you are always able and willing to adapt to change and learn new skills when required.

Sound organisation skills: If you’re considering a career working within the Civil Service, it’s important that you have excellent organisational skills as you will be required to manage multiple tasks and meet tight deadlines.

Finally, anyone working within the Civil Service is expected to uphold high ethical standards and this is paramount. At the same time, all decisions must also be based on facts, not personal opinions. If you think that you fit the bill and possess the above qualities, you should consider choosing a career in the Civil Service.

What qualification are needed to apply to the Civil Service?

Due to the diverse nature of the Civil Service, the qualifications you require to apply for a role in the Civil Service vary tremendously and are based on the specific role you are applying for. At the same time, the qualifications you need also depend on the level of the role you are applying for.

As a general guide, here are just some of qualification requirements:

Educational Qualifications:

• Minimum requirement are often GCSEs (or equivalent) at a C/4 grade or higher, including English and Maths
• There are also a number of different roles that look for A-Levels, BTECs or other qualifications in relevant subjects.
• A degree may be required, especially for specialist positions.

How do I apply for a career in the Civil Service?

Today’s recruitment landscape makes it easier than ever before for candidates to find and apply for job roles. And when it comes to searching for suitable vacancies, there’s lots of ways that you can apply for a career in the Civil Service.

As a general rule of thumb, here are some of the steps that you should follow:

Step one – First and foremost, find suitable roles

When embarking on any job search, you should begin by visiting Civil Service Jobs websites and other recruitment platforms to find available posts. The vast majority of websites allow you to filter results so that you can search for roles by location, grade and department. Remember, Government departments also advertise Civil Service positions on their own careers pages

Conduct thorough research around the job you are applying for

When applying for a Civil Service Job role it’s important that you always read the job description carefully to ensure that it is the right job role for you. You should always pay close attention to the required skills, experience, working hours and qualifications needed. And remember, always steer towards the job roles that most align with your career goals, skills and interests.

Preparing Your Application:

Next, you should always set aside enough time to prepare your application. The vast majority of applications will also require you to provide a CV and cover letter too! This is a fantastic opportunity to make a memorable first impression, demonstrate your skills and highlight your achievements. All skills and experience should be relevant and you should always tailor your responses to the role you are applying for.

Remember, always proofread your application materials carefully. Your communication skills will be under scrutiny and this includes your ability to communicate perfectly in writing.

The Application Process:

Most Civil Service applications are submitted online through the Civil Service Jobs website and you will be required to answer job-specific questions, upload any supporting documents and provide your references.

There are three different types of statement you may be asked to submit.

  • Personal Statement
  • Statement of Suitability (SOS)
  • Behaviour Statement

Learn more about these and what to include here.

You should also be aware that some Civil Service job roles require online assessments to evaluate your skills in areas such as problem-solving, situational judgement, or numerical reasoning.

A career in the Civil Service offers a whole host of personal and professional rewards that make it an excellent career choice.

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About the Author |
Joe McDermott is CEO of Anson Reed the UK's leading interview coaching specialists and founder of the successful InterviewGold online interview training system. Since 2006, Joe and his team of top interview coaches have helped thousands of clients win jobs and in this blog they offer their expert advice - all to make sure you get your top post.
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