User Researcher

Department for Education

Closing date: 22 Mar 2019

Reference number



£35,497 - £39,114


Senior Executive Officer

Contract type


Business area

Higher and Further Education - Transformation & Digital

Type of role

Customer Insight
Operational Research
Social Research
Social Survey Interviewer

Working pattern

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


37 hours

Number of posts



Manchester, North West

About the job

Job description

The Department for Education (DfE) is responsible for children’s services and education, including higher and further education policy, apprenticeships and wider skills in England. We work to provide children’s services and education that ensure opportunity is equal for all, no matter what their background or family circumstances.

About the Role

The Department for Education Digital team is a small but growing, high performing team of talented, agile professionals. We are dedicated to making a difference to schools, teachers and students by building user-centred digital services. The government’s approach to digital puts user needs at the heart of decision making. We are looking for two user researchers to join our digital team.

User researchers are key figures in service teams. They help service teams build a deep understanding of their users so that they can design and deliver the services that their users need. They support product managers and service managers by generating new and useful user insights, and work closely with product owners, business analysts and developers to iterate and improve services for users.

As a user researcher, you will be experienced in using a variety of user research methods to reveal actionable insights.
You will have excellent analytical and problem solving skills, and the ability to quickly develop recommendations based on quantitative and qualitative evidence.

You will need to be confident in explaining user needs to senior civil servants, acting as a persuasive advocate for those needs both within the team, the wider organisation and across government.

You will have experience with and be comfortable working with agile development teams. You will be able to introduce user research practices into a team, establish a user centric culture, and continually monitor and improve practices.

As a user researcher you will:

• Work with other user researchers and product owners to develop and advocate appropriate research strategies to understand user needs for a service, and to continually test and improve the service
• Foster a culture of team involvement in user research, team analysis, design rationale and decision making based on user needs
• Support other user researchers to ensure quality of research, and drive improvements in practice.
• Plan, design, prepare and run user research activities to support the design, development and continuous improvement of digital government services (including contextual discovery, experience mapping, diary studies, early stage concept and prototype testing, lab based and contextual usability and accessibility testing).
• Design and run contextual and discovery research to develop a deep understanding of the needs of all users of a service
• Manage the usability and accessibility testing process from recruiting participants, designing test tasks, and preparing discussion guides, to test moderation, analysis and presenting results.
• Design, execute and analyse quantitative surveys.
• Lead colleagues to analyse research data and synthesize findings so that research is shareable and traceable.
• Effectively communicate user research findings to the team and the wider organisation, so that they share a strong and empathetic understanding of their users (including presentations at show and tells, designing and maintaining research outputs on the team wall, formal reports).
• Work closely with business analysts, designers and developers to turn user research findings into stories and actions that lead to valuable product and service features.
• Work closely with analytics colleagues to define user centred KPIs, to create a rich picture of user behaviour to tell the full story of how and why people use our services.
• Contribute to the user research community across government, presenting at meetups and writing for the user research blog.

Essential Criteria

• Demonstrable knowledge, experience in and passion for user centered design practices for web, service or software development.
• Proven experience of understanding user needs for web content, tools and transactional services, especially those with the most complex user journeys.
• Proven experience of designing, facilitating and analysing a wide range of qualitative and quantitative user research methods.
• Strong understanding of strengths and limitations of different research methods.
• Proven experience of presenting user research findings in a wide variety of formats and contexts.
• Proven experience introducing and establishing user research practices in an organisation.
• Proven experience of working in an agile development environment with designers, developers, business analysts and product owners to create new digital products and services

Desirable Criteria

• Previous experience within government services.
• Degree in HCI/Usability/Cognitive Psychology/Market Research or related field.


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

  • Managing a Quality Service
  • Making Effective Decisions
  • Communicating and Influencing
  • Working Together



Civil Service pension schemes may be available for successful candidates.


You will be entitled to join the highly competitive Civil Service Pension Scheme, which many experts agree is one of the most generous in the UK. The Institute for Fiscal Studies recently said that “the biggest difference between public and private sectors remains the value of employer contributions to public service pensions. These are much more generous in the public sector than in the private sector”.

If you have accrued pension rights in another pension scheme, you may be eligible to transfer these rights into the Civil Service Pension Scheme. Contributory pension (worth 20-22% of salary).

Annual Leave

Your annual leave allowance will be 25 days, increasing by 1 day every year to a maximum of 30 days after five years’ service. In addition, all staff receive the Queen’s Birthday privilege holiday and eight days’ bank and public holidays.

Development and progression

DfE exists to support lifelong learning, and offer all staff a minimum of five days formal learning and development every year supported by ongoing professional development and opportunities for professional accreditation.

Things you need to know


Successful candidates must pass basic security checks.

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 and Experience.
As part of the application process you will be asked to complete a CV and personal statement. Further details around what this will entail are listed on the application form.

Please note that your personal statement must demonstrate evidence of the essential and desirable key criteria.

An initial sift based on behaviour 1 (Managing a Quality Service) may be held if a large number of applications are received.

If your application progresses to a full sift, all behaviour examples will then be considered.

Applicants with the best skills and experience will be invited to interview, where you will be required to provide further evidence as to how you meet the behaviours and key criteria. Interviews may include an additional assessment exercise or presentation exercise.

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

James Reeve -

Sift/interview dates and location

Sift will take place W/E 29 March 2019

Interviews will take place in Manchester W/E 12 April 2019

Further information

Department for Education do not cover the cost of travel to your interview/assessment unless otherwise stated.

Any move to Department for Education (DfE) will mean you will no longer be able to carry on claiming childcare vouchers.

A reserve list may be held for a period of up to 6 months from which further appointments can be made.

New entrants are expected to join on the minimum of the pay band.

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.

Terms and conditions of candidates transferring from ALBs and NDPBs.

1. Bodies that are not accredited by the Civil Service Commission and are not able to advertise at Across Government on Civil Service jobs will be treated as external new starters and will come into DfE on modernised terms and conditions with a salary at the band minimum.

2. Bodies that are accredited by the Civil Service Commission but do not have civil service status will be offered modernised terms and will not have continuous service recognised for leave or sickness benefits. Salaries should be offered at band minimum, but there is some flexibility where this would cause a detriment to the individual.

3. Bodies that are accredited by the Civil Service Commission and do have Civil Service status will be treated as OGD transfers. Staff appointed on lateral transfer will move on to pre-modernised DfE terms (unless they were on modernised terms in their previous organisation). Staff appointed on promotion will move on to modernised DfE terms. Staff will transfer over on their existing salary (on lateral transfer) and any pay above the DfE pay band maximum will be paid as a mark time allowance. Staff moving on promotion will have their salaries calculated using the principles set out in the attached OGD transfer supplementary information.

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 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

The Department for Education’s recruitment processes are underpinned by the Civil Service Commissioners Recruitment Principles, which outlines that selection for appointment is made on merit based on fair and open competition.

If you feel your application has not been treated in accordance with the values in the Civil Service Code and/or if you feel the recruitment has been conducted in such a way that conflicts with the Civil Service Commissioners Recruitment Principles, you may make a complaint, by contacting the Central Recruitment Team at the following address

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint you have the right to complain to the Civil Service Commissioners.

The technical skills criteria are based on the capabilities set out in the Digital, Data and Technology Profession Capability Framework for delivery managers. Further information can be found via the link below.

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