Senior Policy Advisors (EU Exit) - SEO

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Closing date: 1 Sep 2019

Reference number



£35,188 (National) £37,987 (London) - £40,310 (National) £43,520 (London)


Senior Executive Officer

Contract type

Fixed Term

Length of employment

2 years with the potential for extension or permanency

Business area

Other - Policy Profession in Defra

Type of role


Working pattern

Flexible working, Full-time, Job share, Part-time


36/37 hours per week

Number of posts



Bristol, York and London

About the job

Job description

The work you will be doing

As a Senior Policy Advisor, you will be part of a team of experts that is delivering on Defra’s priorities to support the UK’s Exit from the European Union. No two posts are the same but in broad terms your work will include:
• The provision of effective planning and prioritisation activities to deliver high quality results to time;

• Working with a range of connected stakeholders in and outside Government to help ensure that you are able to deliver the best results;

• Supporting senior managers to brief Ministers and senior officials;

• In some cases there will be responsibility for a small team of HEOs and EOs.

It remains an exciting time to work in Defra as the department changes to deliver an effective exit from the EU. Defra’s profile has never been higher; our remit provides the opportunity for real influence. Our policy areas are each split into Directorates, workstreams and projects that combine flexibly to deliver on Ministerial priorities.

As a Senior Executive Offer Policy Advisor, you will be part of a team who work with a range of both internal and external stakeholders.
You will contribute towards the drafting of policy and strategy that support the exit of the UK from the EU. Your ability to contribute isn’t limited by lack of specialist knowledge, we value the importance of an individual’s range of skills. This means that you may develop specialist expertise and work across a small portfolio area. Alternatively, you may develop a more over-arching knowledge of a wider range of topics.

Your wider team will likely be made up of both counterparts and senior colleagues, working collaboratively, supporting each other to deliver one project. There is also the potential that you will line manage a small team of HEOs and EOs.

You will be building relationships with a variety of stakeholders. Internally, these could include Directors and Ministers, as well as your counterparts in other teams, whereas externally, this could include industry bodies, non-governmental organisations and UK citizens.

Your involvement today will contribute to policy, projects, initiatives that will continue for years to come!

There are a number of work areas under which a Senior Executive Officer may operate within. Please see the attached candidate pack for a little more information about them and the Policy Profession in Defra.

Work areas that available are:
• Agri- Food Chain
• Animal and Plant Health and Welfare
• Biosecurity and Food Projects
• Environmental Regulations
• EU and International Trade
• EU Exit Domestic and Constitutional Affairs
• EU Exit Overview
• Future Farming and Countryside
• Marine and Fisheries
• Strategy

The Policy Profession in Defra and the Civil Service

The career anchor for these roles is the Policy Profession, Defra’s central Policy Profession team works alongside HR and other teams to equip policy professionals in the Defra group, with the skills, knowledge, and confidence necessary to deliver high-quality policies in an increasingly complex environment.

New joiners can expect full support from the Policy Profession, including in your career development, through peer learning, mentoring and coaching as well as access to a wide range of material and professional advice to support you in your role.

The central Policy Profession operates across the Civil Service, and sits within Civil Service Learning, supporting government-wide Policy Profession initiatives. It’s for anyone who works in, or is involved with, the formation of policy for government – including those that may belong to another Government Profession.

To find more information on the policy profession in the Civil Service, click here.

Essential Experience:
• You will have a proven track record of communicating confidently and concisely;
• You will have experience of working with complex policy areas, identifying the key issues and the significant risks from within them;
• You will have evidence that you have managed relationships with a range of stakeholders, ideally both internally and externally;
• You will have experience of taking an innovative approach, seeking opportunities to do things differently, or starting from a blank page;
• You will have a proven track record of being responsive to change and adapt quickly, or develop new options and ideas as circumstances change;
• You will have evidence of planning and prioritising effectively to meet deadlines, remaining calm to deliver results at pace.

Person Specification:
To be successful in this campaign you will need to demonstrate the advertised Ability, Behaviours and Experience. In addition, we are looking to appoint individuals who are able to show how an innovative approach to a range of complex and rapidly changing situations can deliver results. You need to be able to adapt to variations in work or environment and not allow your effectiveness to be impacted by change. You’ll be flexible and versatile, and act as an advocate for change.

Naturally, you will be someone who like to seek and analyse information in order to inform decisions based on the best available evidence. You will always think ahead to anticipate, identify, and address any risks or problems before they occur.

It is in your nature to work well as part of a team, striving to ensure the team pulls together and is at its most effective. You are able to quickly establish mutual respect and trust, building long lasting relationships with others, both internally and externally.

On top of this, you will show you have inner composure, recovering quickly from setbacks and learning from them, remaining self-aware and true to yourself in all situations, even when under pressure. You take ownership for your decisions and hold yourself accountable for what you have promised to deliver.

PLEASE NOTE: This is a rolling recruitment campaign over an initial 6 month period. Sifting and interviewing will be conducted weekly over the length of the advert.

Candidates are encouraged to submit their applications early to account for the rolling sift and interview dates. Candidates can only apply for this vacancy once under the same reference number. Any subsequent applications under the same vacancy reference will be flagged as duplicates and not considered.


We'll assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:

  • Delivering at Pace
  • Making Effective Decisions
  • Managing a Quality Service
  • Changing and Improving



Civil Service pension schemes may be available for successful candidates.

Things you need to know


Successful candidates must pass a disclosure and barring security check.
Successful candidates must meet the security requirements before they can be appointed. The level of security needed is counter-terrorist check.

Nationality statement

Candidates will be subject to UK immigration requirements as well as Civil Service nationality rules.

If you're applying for a role requiring security clearance please be aware that foreign or dual nationality is not an automatic bar. However certain posts may have restrictions which could affect those who do not have sole British nationality or who have personal connections with certain countries outside the UK.

Selection process details

This vacancy is using Success Profiles, and will assess your Behaviours, Strengths, Ability and Experience.
As part of the application process you will be asked to complete four Behaviour statements and submit 250 words (under a personal statement) on which two areas you would prefer to be placed in to if successful and the reasons that you consider are important to support this preference. Further details around what this will entail are listed on the application form.

PLEASE NOTE: The personal statement section will allow you to input up to 1200 words but you must only provide 250 words maximum. All information provided beyond 250 words will not be considered as part of your application.

Please note that your behaviour statements should be aligned to the essential experience listed above.

After submission of your application you will be invited to complete an online Situational Judgement test. You must be successful at this stage to progress to the manual sift. Please complete the online test as soon as possible (within 24-48 hours is recommended), the closing date for the test is Midnight on Tuesday 3rd September 2019. If you fail to complete the online test before the deadline your application will be withdrawn.

Guidance for the test will be available when you are invited to take the test. The test is administered online and accessed via the CS Jobs website.

The panel will assess your evidence against the advertised Behaviours and Experience. You will also be asked to submit up to 250 words on which two areas you would prefer to be placed in to if successful and the reasons that you consider are important to support this preference.

Candidates successful at this stage will be invited to interview where the advertised Ability and Experience elements will be further tested alongside other required elements of the post. Candidates will be required to give a short presentation at interview.

Further details will be provided to shortlisted candidates in advance of the interviews.

Candidates who are judged to be a near miss at interview may be considered for other posts within Defra at the grade below the one advertised where there is a potential skills match.

Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.

Nationality requirements

Open to UK, Commonwealth and European Economic Area (EEA) and certain non EEA nationals. Further information on whether you are able to apply is available here.

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment principles.
The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equality of opportunity. There is a guaranteed interview scheme (GIS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.

Apply and further information

Contact point for applicants

Please ensure you include the 7 digit reference (1621096) in the subject of your email.

Online test instructions

Please complete the online test as soon as possible (within 24-48 hours is recommended), the closing date for the test is Midnight on 3rd September 2019. If you fail to complete the online test before the deadline your application will be withdrawn.

Sift/interview dates and location

The manual sift will commence from 21st January 2019 on a rolling basis.

Interviews are expected to start from 5th February 2019 on a rolling basis in London, York and Bristol.

Candidates are asked to exercise flexibility through the recruitment and selection process as it may not be possible to offer any alternative dates for assessments or interviews.

Further information

Existing Civil Servants and applicants from accredited NDPBs are eligible to apply, and if successful will be offered the post on loan (Civil Servants) or secondment (accredited NDPBs). In the case of Civil Servants, the terms of the loan will be agreed between the home and host department and the Civil Servant. This includes grade on return.

Legislative changes and the closure of Employer Supported Childcare scheme on 4 October 2018 will mean individuals moving across the Civil Service to a new PAYE scheme on any type of move other than TUPE/COSOP will lose the right to continue to claim Childcare Vouchers.

Whilst some employees may lose the right to continue claiming childcare vouchers via their employer, they may still be eligible to claim Click here Get Tax-Free Childcare

Reasonable adjustment
If a person with disabilities is put at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled person, we have a duty to make reasonable changes to our processes.
If you need a change to be made so that you can make your application, you should:
Contact Government Recruitment Service via as soon as possible before the closing date to discuss your needs
Complete the “Assistance required” section in the “Additional requirements” page of your application form to tell us what changes or help you might need further on in the recruitment process. For instance, you may need wheelchair access at interview, or if you’re deaf, a Language Service Professional

Applicants who are successful at interview will be, as part of pre-employment screening subject to a check on the Internal Fraud Database (IFD). This check will provide information about employees who have been dismissed for fraud or dishonesty offences. This check also applies to employees who resign or otherwise leave before being dismissed for fraud or dishonesty had their employment continued. Any applicant’s details held on the IFD will be refused employment.

If you feel your application has not been treated in accordance with the Recruitment Principles and you wish to make a complaint, in the first instance, you should contact Government Recruitment Services via email:

If you are not satisfied with the response you receive from the Department, you can contact the Civil Service Commission:
Click here to visit Civil Service Commission

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