24 HIGHER EXECUTIVE OFFICER (HEO) CIVIL SERVICE
Interview Questions and Answers

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Here’s the FULL LIST of HIGHER EXECUTIVE OFFICER CIVIL SERVICE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:

Q1. Tell me about yourself and why you think you could excel in a HEO position?

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

“Thank you for inviting me to be interviewed for this Higher Executive Officer position today.

Throughout my career, I have developed a variety of transferrable skills and leadership qualities that I believe will enable me to excel within the Civil Service as a HEO. I am a highly positive and effective manager who has excellent analytical and project management skills, which will help me to ensure work is published to the high standards expected of the Civil Service. For example, in my previous role, I was praised by my senior manager for analysing the department’s budget spending, and proposing new ways to save on budget. I had to communicate this data to external stakeholders, and encourage others to embrace change within the organisation which, in turn, had a successful impact on the department. I understand that as a HEO, I will be responsible for leading a team to create and implement new policies, I will need to communicate with clarity, to see the bigger picture, and to approach tasks and projects with enthusiasm and a commitment to public service.

Outside of work I am driven by my family who are fully supportive of my career and I enjoy hobbies such as team-based sports where I get to collaborate with others. If you employ me in this position, I will be a proactive and positive leader, not afraid to encourage and implement continuous improvement within work flows. I am someone who always seeks to identify where I can improve processes for future success.”

Q2. What skills and qualities are needed to carry out a Higher Executive Officer position?

SUGGESTED ANSWER

“There are many skills and qualities needed to excel in a Higher Executive Officer role. One of the most important ones is effective leadership skills, to be able to lead the department in the development and implementation of new policies and complete its objectives. I understand that is pivotal to support & make positive change within the organisation. I am someone who can maximise the potential in others and the resources at my disposal, which will I believe is important of a HEO, as this role requires someone that must be supportive through challenging times and who seeks to empowers people to deliver important projects using an innovative and forward-thinking approach to problem solving. As a HEO, you are expected to be a positive role model to all and integrity is also very important, and you must always set high standards for everyone to follow. Other skills and qualities include, being able to communicate and collaborate effectively with other internal departments and external stakeholders who may have a vested interest in the Civil Service. Finally, being able to multi-task and manage multiple, challenging projects and budgets concurrently is a vital skill of a competent Civil Service Higher Executive Officer.”

Q3. How do you go about making effective decisions as a leader?
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Q4. What would you focus on during your daily work as a manager and leader within the Civil Service to ensure you are effective?
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Q5. When have you used effective communication skills to get a difficult message across to a group of people?
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Q6. What’s your biggest weakness?
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Q7. What previous experience do you have that you feel will benefit this position?
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Q8. What are your future ambitions and where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
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Q9. Tell me about a time when you created a written report that was important? What did you consider when creating the report?
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Q10. Describe a time when you remained calm in a stressful and difficult situation?
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Q11. As a Civil Service HEO, how would you monitor the performance of your staff?
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Q12. Describe a time where you failed?
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Q13. Who was the last person you had to speak about regarding under performance?
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Q14. How would you delegate responsibility during a very important Civil Service project with tight deadlines?
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Q15. As a Civil Service leader, it is better to be feared or loved?
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Q16. What do you expect the best and most challenging parts of working in the Civil Service will be?
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Q17. Explain a time when you delivered a task at pace?
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Q18. What are the biggest challenges facing the Civil Service right now?
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Q19. What’s the toughest team you’ve ever managed? Why were they so difficult to manage and what did you do to turn things around?
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Q20. How would you develop your team within the Civil Service to get the most out of them?
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Q21. Describe a time when you resolved conflict within a team?
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Q22. What things would you consider when communicating with external agencies?
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Q23. Why do you want to work for the Civil Service?
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Q24. That’s the end of your Civil Service HEO interview. Do you have any questions for the panel?
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Higher Executive Officer – Job Description


The Higher Executive Officer role is commonly found in the civil service and is a middle management role. As there are many departments the role will vary between departmental function. However, you will be key in regards to policy development and implementation. Part of the role will require you to lead a team and support the various tasks and policies which you will be responsible for. You will communicate with senior civil servants frequently to advise on policy matters and be pivotal in supporting & making positive change within the organisation. You will need to demonstrate sound leadership skills and competently manage budgets and policy development.

Key Tasks of a Higher Executive Officer

  • Prepare and publish work to high levels and check and verify work of your team.
  • Analyse and present data to senior management.
  • Quickly resolve issues within your workflow.
  • Efficiently manage the workloads of your department.
  • Communicate and manage relationships with external and internal stakeholders.
  • Manage projects/policies from development through to implementation.
  • Efficiently manage budgets and use resources to the maximum potential.
  • Implement continuous improvement within your work flow always seeking to identify where you can improve processes for future success.

Higher Executive Officer – Your Questions Answered!

Q1 – How much does a Higher Executive Earn? Depending on the location the salary does change, In London, HEO will earn between £30,388 and £36,922 per annum. Nationally, you could expect to earn between £27,150 and £32,460 per annum.

Q2 – What is a Higher Executive Officer Equivalent? Job titles outside the Civil service include; Supervisor, Team leaders, Office Manager to name a few.

Q3 – What are the HEO Civil Service Behaviours? These will depend on the role being applied for. With most civil service jobs, you will be able to ascertain this information from the job description. Usually, you will be assessed on 3-4 of the behaviours.

Q4 – What are the grades in the civil service? These range from the following order from most junior to senior civil servants.

  • AO/AA Administrative Officer or Assistant. This is the most junior level role.
  • Executive Officer. Employees in this role are usually in specialist support roles from various departments and can lead small teams.
  • Higher/Senior Executive Officer. A middle management role, which comes with specific policy responsibilities.
  • Grades 6 & 7. A senior management position, with enhanced police responsibility, answering to directors and director generals.
  • Senior Civil Servants. Directors and director generals work closely to ministers within their department and are the most senior roles within the civil service.

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24 HEO CIVIL SERVICE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WORKBOOK

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