Lead User Researcher

HM Revenue and Customs

Apply before 11:55 pm on Wednesday 23rd September 2020


Reference number



£62,789 - £78,020
£62,789 - £70,779 (National) £69,210 - £78,020 (London)


Grade 6

Contract type


Business area

HMRC - CDIO - Strategy, Design Architecture and Innovation

Type of role

Information Technology

Working pattern

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

Number of posts



Edinburgh, London, Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Shipley, Telford, Worthing

About the job


As an HMRC Lead User Researcher, you will have the unique opportunity to work on some of the largest digital transformation programmes undertaken in Government as well as in other sectors. Your role will be to ensure that user needs are central to the design and implementation of Government services.

Job description

Our team are in rapid growth, expanding to over 90 user researchers, showing HMRC’s commitment to growing a user-centred culture. You will join a lively and supportive User Research community, based at one of our Digital Centres across the UK, with access to research labs and facilities. Our team are passionate and committed to conducting robust research with real-world impact, and bring varied expertise from the private, voluntary and public sectors.
This is an exciting time to join an organisation that probably doesn’t work how you’d imagine a government organisation would. Our blog tells you a bit more about what we do and how we do it. https://hmrcdigital.blog.gov.uk/category/user-research/


You will be a leader in your field, an experienced practitioner and a skilled team leader, confident in explaining user needs to senior civil servants and delivery teams alike. You will be comfortable working with a range of stakeholders, and be able to quickly build credibility, influence and the ability to deliver through others.
As a Lead User Researcher, you will be:
? Leading and managing teams of users researchers.
? Leading and doing user research for complex and high profile projects, programmes and/or portfolios of work (e.g., Making Tax Digital for Business, etc.)
? Planning, designing and preparing a range of user research activities to support the design, development and continuous improvement of complex government services.
? Carrying out a wide range of user research activities from recruiting participants, preparing discussion guides and moderating research sessions.
? Leading colleagues to analyse research data and synthesise clear and actionable findings, including working closely with analytics colleagues to create a rich picture of user behaviour.
? Communicating user research findings to help the team and wider organisation develop a deep understanding of users and their needs.
? Working closely with product managers, designers and developers to turn user research findings into stories and actions that lead to valuable product and service features.
? Aligning user research activities with wider plans to inform service proposition.
? Building user centred practices in new and larger teams.
? Assessing services to ensure they meet the Service Standard.
? Mentoring, managing and guiding user researchers to assure and improve research practice.
? Contributing to the wider user research community including presenting at meetups, writing blog posts and leading on aspects of practice.

Essential criteria

? Understands and has experience of a range of user research methods. Able to choose appropriate methods for different life cycle phases and situations. Knows how to apply methods correctly.
? Able to turn research data into clear findings that inform decisions. Knows how to involve colleagues in analysis and synthesis to increase consensus and challenge assumptions.
? Understands the diversity of users of government services. Knows how to include all kinds of users in appropriate research activities to help teams deliver accessible services.
? Understands user centred design practices and knows how to embed them into an agile workflow to deliver timely findings. Can work in an open, iterative and collaborative way in a multidisciplinary team.
? Understands organisational strategy and objectives. Able to align user research activities with objectives to create strategic insights that inform policy and proposition.
? Experience of advocating for user research and engaging sceptical colleagues and stakeholders.
? Experience in using a range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies including ethnographic techniques, usability testing, remote testing, and survey design.
? Proven experience in meeting ambitious deadlines and delivering high-quality work on schedule, including quickly turning around research plans and outputs in different formats.
? Proven experience of introducing new user research methods into a team, and guiding colleagues in the choice and effective application of research methods.
A good understanding of the social and technological context for government services, and experience of aligning user research activities to help teams understand changing user behaviour.

You will also need:
• A degree in psychology, cognitive science, human factors, computer science, product/interaction design, human computer interaction or related disciplines.
• Exceptional research and analysis skills, (e.g. designing, conducting, and analysing data and information from different research methodologies)
• Excellent communication, presentation and interpersonal skills; the ability to communicate complex concepts clearly and persuasively across different audiences and varying levels of the organisation.
• Strong qualitative and analytical skills, excellent attention to detail and good business judgement.
• Enthusiasm for coaching and mentoring of team members.
• Understanding of the Government Service Standard and GDS Service Manual
• The flexibility to work in a fast-changing environment and ambiguous situations
• Experience guiding and mentoring junior team members
• Knowledge or experience of working in an agile delivery environment

Desirable criteria

A relevant postgraduate qualification (e.g. Human Factors, HCDE, Cognitive Psychology or related disciplines)

Technical Skills:
We will assess you against the following technical skills during the selection process.
? DDaT Capability Framework Skill – Research skills
? DDaT Capability Framework Skill – Analysis and synthesis
? DDaT Capability Framework Skill – User centred and agile practices
? DDaT Capability Framework Skill – Strategic insight


A degree in psychology, cognitive science, human factors, computer science, product/interaction design, human computer interaction or related disciplines.

Technical skills

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

  • DDaT Capability Framework Skill – Research skills
  • DDaT Capability Framework Skill – Analysis and synthesis
  • DDaT Capability Framework Skill – User centred and agile practices
  • DDaT Capability Framework Skill – Strategic insight


• Extraordinary pension schemes
• Flexible work hours, season ticket loans, great holiday package
• Clear career progression within formalised paths
• Professional Development and Training programmes and opportunities for continued development
• A rare opportunity to impact millions of people’s lives through your research work
• Being part of a supportive research community - we are a diverse, cross-disciplinary team with varied backgrounds across the private, voluntary and public sectors.

If you are applying for a role in an office within a regional center location or a transitional or specialist site, then the following may apply: Daily Travel Assistance will be available for this role, provided the successful applicant is a current HMRC employee and meets the eligibility requirements outlined in the department’s Daily Travel Assistance guidance

Please also find attached 'Your little extras booklet' for further information.

Things you need to know


Successful candidates must pass a disclosure and barring security check.
People working with government assets must complete basic personnel security standard checks.

Selection process details

This vacancy is using Success Profiles, and will assess your Experience and Technical skills.
This vacancy is using Success Profiles, and will assess your technical skills and Experience
As part of the application process you will be asked to complete a CV, Your Employment
• Your CV
• Your employment history
• A personal statement, which should demonstrate how you meet the user research skills ensuring you give examples relating to your professional experience as a user researcher, referring to the essential and desirable criteria above (2000 words max).
More information about the competencies and technical skills can be found at:
Things you need to know:

We would also like you to bring a portfolio to showcase the work you have done.

Your CV is all about summarising your skills, knowledge and experience; your portfolio expands upon it by taking a deeper look at all those strengths. A portfolio could include summaries of projects, accomplishments, skills and samples of work that provide evidence of what you have done.

We will ask you to complete a short user research exercise before the interview. During the interview we will also ask questions that let you demonstrate your experience and technical skills relevant to the role.

Due to the current situation, your interview will be done online rather than face to face.

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

Sift and interview dates to be confirmed. (Include if missing from VH text)

Security Update

If you are successful and transferring from another Government Department, we will carry out a check of your identity, nationality, and immigration status (including the right to work in the UK) and a criminal record check before confirming your appointment.

Successful candidates must pass a Disclosure and Barring Security Check/Disclosure Scotland/Access NI (delete as appropriate: If location is in England will be DBS, Scotland will be Disclosure Scotland & Northern Ireland will be Access NI). Please note that HMRC have an exemption under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, which enables us to make enquiries about both unspent and spent convictions.

In order to process applications without delay, we will be sending a Criminal Record Check to Disclosure and Barring Service /Disclosure Scotland/Access NI (delete as appropriate: If location is in England will be DBS, Scotland will be Disclosure Scotland & Northern Ireland will be Access NI) on your behalf. However, we recognise in exceptional circumstance some candidates will want to send their completed forms direct. If you will be doing this, please advise Government Recruitment Service of your intention by emailing Pre-EmploymentChecks.grs@cabinetoffice.gov.uk stating the job reference number in the subject heading.

For further information on the Disclosure Scotland confidential checking service telephone: the Disclosure Scotland Helpline on 0870 609 6006 and ask to speak to the operations manager in confidence, or email Info@disclosurescotland.co.uk

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.

A candidate is not eligible to apply for a role within the Civil Service if the application is made within a 5 year period following a dismissal for carrying out internal fraud against government.

HMRC transformation

In November 2015, HMRC announced the next step in our ten-year modernisation programme to create a tax authority fit for the future, committing to high-quality jobs and the creation of new regional centres serving every region and nation in the UK. We set out our plans to consolidate into 13 large, modern offices, equipped with the digital infrastructure and training facilities needed to build a more highly-skilled workforce. These offices will be located in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Newcastle, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Croydon and Stratford. There will also be a small number of specialist sites, where the work cannot be done anywhere else, in Gartcosh (near Glasgow), Telford, Ipswich, Worthing and Dover, as well as our headquarters in central London. In addition, our Welsh language service has people in specialist roles located in Porthmadog, as well as Cardiff.

We are letting you know about our future plans because if you are recruited into an office that is not one of these locations, you will be expected, subject to HM Revenue and Customs applicable policies, to move to one of these locations in the future. In some cases, this will be via one of our nine transitional sites.

If you are not a current civil servant, you will not be eligible for financial assistance for your move to the regional centre or a transitional or specialist site. If you are a current HMRC employee and you joined HMRC through an advert that was advertised on or after 11/01/2017, you will not be eligible for financial assistance for your move to the regional centre or a transitional or specialist site. This is in line with the terms of your original appointment to HMRC. For more information please contact the vacancy holder.

Terms and Conditions

Some of HMRC Terms and Conditions of employment changed on 1st May 2013, these will apply to people who are new recruits to HMRC or who take a new job in HMRC on promotion. The document attached to this advertisement provides more information on the changes we made, please note this is not a full list of HMRC's terms and conditions. If you need to discuss how these changes might affect you, please contact the vacancy holder. For further information on terms and conditions please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/about/recruitment#annual-leave


If you are currently working for an OGD and would like to consider the impact on your pay when joining HMRC, please see the attached document "Pay on Transfer from OGD" for further information.

HMRC is currently negotiating with departmental trade unions to modify its current pay structure, terms and conditions. Those terms are yet to be agreed but when implemented, we envisage that they will be backdated to 1 June 2020. The pay ranges, terms and conditions advertised will be altered by the new deal (subject to collective agreement) and will apply to candidates who are successful for the role.

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

Further Information

Customer facing roles in HMRC require the ability to converse at ease with members of the public and provide advice in accurate spoken English and/or Welsh where required. Where this is an essential requirement this will be tested as part of the selection process.

A reserve list may be held for a period of 12 months from which further appointments can be made.

Any move to HMRC will mean you will no longer be able to carry on claiming childcare vouchers. You will however have access to the governments Tax Free Childcare scheme.

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 hmrcrecruitment.grs@cabinetoffice.gov.uk 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.

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 equal opportunities. As such, we run a Disability Confident Scheme (DCS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.

Apply and further information

Once this job has closed, the job advert will no longer be available. You may want to save a copy for your records.

Contact point for applicants

Job contact :
Name :  Becky Dominick
Email :  becky.dominick@digital.hmrc.gov.uk
Recruitment team :
Email :  hmrcrecruitment.grs@cabinetoffice.gov.uk

Further information

Appointment to the Civil Service is governed by the Civil Service Commission’s Recruitment Principles. You have the right to complain if you feel a department has breached the requirement of the Recruitment Principles. In the first instance, you should raise the matter directly with the department concerned via complaints.grs@cabinetoffice.gov.uk. If you are not satisfied with the response, you may bring your complaint to the Commission. For further information on bringing a complaint to the Civil Service Commission please visit their web pages: http://civilservicecommission.independent.gov.uk/civil-service-recruitment/complaints/

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