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For All Policy Analysts – What are Hiring Managers Telling Us?

Being the only specialist public sector recruitment firm, we have the privilege to be the eyes and ears of our candidates and our clients all the time. Drawing on this market knowledge, starting today, we will publish a series of articles that will help you to prepare yourself better for your policy interviews. After all, you can never be over prepared!

So what makes a successful policy professional? While good critical thinking, analytical ability, written and verbal communication and relationship management skills are not negotiable, listed below are the FOUR most critical selection criteria that we hear about repetitively. These are common across all policy roles – strategic, operational, regulatory or economic!

1. Dealing with Ambiguity

A very commonly used term but one of the most decisive factors that can make or mar your chances of getting shortlisted for your policy dream job. In plain speak it means how comfortable you are dealing with uncertainty. Are you nimble footed enough to do the tango if the situation demands? Are you comfortable with continuously changing deadlines or goalposts? If yes, then how do you approach such tasks? In preparation for your interview, think of an example where you can demonstrate your flexibility and agility in the face of constant uncertainties…this will be a fantastic opportunity to prove your mettle to the interview panel!

2. Project Management of Policy Work Programmes

If you are interviewing for a Senior or a Principal Policy role, you are expected to be already conversant with some commonly used project management methodologies. While a Prince 2 certification will always come in handy to highlight this skill, you should always keep some examples ready to demonstrate your practical expertise in this area! Can you think of a policy project that you led and were able to deliver on deadline using your good project management skills? Don’t forget to add a bit about how you managed the expectations of your stakeholders?

3. Coaching / Mentoring

It is given that as a Senior or a Principal Policy Analyst, you will have coached and mentored junior and new team members.  While your opportunities to coach and mentor may not have been formal arrangements, it would be good interview preparation to be able to refer to instances where you have taken on a coach or mentoring role.   Peer review is another skill that you should have exposure to.

4. Leading Cross-agency policy work programmes

The focus is on co-creating and co-developing policies in partnership with other government agencies! Can you think of a cross agency policy work programme you were involved in – what was your role in that – how did you manage the relationships with your stakeholders (supportive or unresponsive) – did you face any conflicts – how did you handle the issues – given the same opportunity, what will you do differently this time?

Hope this is of help! Also refer to our STAR Interview article to learn more about public sector interview techniques.  Please feel free to contact Senior Consultant, Priti Saboo, with your questions.

In the next article, we will be talking about what to expect when you are interviewing for a Policy Manager role!