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HEO Executive Officer Policy Advisors: Environmental Quality Directorate

Posted: 26 Sep 2019 Closes: 25 Nov 2019
Bristol, London, York £28,604 - £35,620
Fixed term & Full time defra/20190926140705

We are looking to fill a number of HEO higher policy advisor roles that are expected to become available in EQ.

These posts will provide an opportunity to use and refine your skills in a wide range of disciplines, including communications and stakeholder management; policy development; often working with EU and International institutions; and strong project management.

You will be adaptive, flexible, and comfortable working at pace and with ambiguity.

It has never been a more exciting time to join the Defra group, which is responsible for the environment, the countryside and the rural economy. Defra’s diverse teams deal with a vast range of issues that profoundly affect people day to day life from the food we eat, the air we breathe and the water we drink.

The objective for Defra Environmental Quality Directorate is to improve and protect health and the environment by improving air quality, managing noise, promoting resource efficiency, managing risks from chemicals, to support our objective to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited.

Since the EU referendum our work has to ensure that as the UK leaves the EU, we have put in place all the measures needed to ensure a smooth and orderly transition that safeguards the protection of the environment and adapts as needed to a new relationship with the EU. Alongside this significant new work, we continue to have important objectives to deliver improved arrangements at a national level in key areas such as better air quality and improved resources and waste management.

The areas we work in include:

• Improving air quality;
• Managing risks from chemicals and pesticides whilst enabling their beneficial uses;
• Reducing waste, promoting recycling and improving efficient use of resources across the economy; and,
• Encouraging more environmentally friendly behaviours.

Roles in EQ Directorate offer plenty of scope for interesting and challenging work. There will be opportunities to develop policy and drive through its delivery, and to develop your leadership influencing skills in an international, EU and/or domestic context.

The posts offer some flexibility to be based outside London, but the post holder is likely to be required to travel to London regularly, and may need to be able to attend meetings at short notice. Some roles may require some travel to meetings outside the UK.

Candidates can state a preference at interview for any particular area. The interview panel will discuss suitability for specific roles following success at interview.

Please note this is a general interview so that if successful you may be considered for other posts in EQ. Subject to the specific role, posts may be offered on a Permanent basis or as Fixed Term Contract only.


Your role will include:
• Supporting and potentially leading on one or more policies;
• Using evidence and expertise from within and outside Government to help guide decisions about how policies are developed and delivered;
• Preparing briefing for Ministers and senior officials and drafting correspondence between Ministers and the public;
• Planning and prioritising effectively, to deliver results; and
• Working with stakeholders within and outside Government, to help ensure we get the best policy results.

Across the Civil Service the grade of Higher Executive Officer (HEO) is an important position that enables the Service to move forward in delivering its public service duties. HEOs work across the full range of policy and corporate service areas and will exercise sound judgment often dealing with diverse problems.

HEOs apply innovative thoughts when advising on policy formation which requires the ability to interact with senior leaders and stakeholders, where a strong set of interpersonal skills is essential.

• Strong evidence that you understand how your work fits with and supports organisational objectives and the wider public needs and the national interest.
• Proven ability to build and manage strong relationships with internal and external stakeholders.
• Strong evidence of being able to focus on delivering agreed goals and activities whilst dealing with challenges in a responsive and constructive way.
• Excellent verbal and written communication skills.

You should make sure that you set out your full career history in your application and specifically state how you meet these criteria.

The career anchor for this post is the Policy Profession, although members of other professions are very welcome to apply. Defra’s 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.


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

  • Making Effective Decisions
  • Delivering at Pace
  • Working Together



• Learning and development tailored to your role;
• An environment with flexible working options;
• A culture encouraging inclusion and diversity;
• A Civil Service pension.

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.

Selection process details

This vacancy is using Success Profiles, and will assess your Behaviours, Strengths and Experience.

Candidates will be required to demonstrate the behaviours listed below on the application form. Please note answers for these behaviours are limited to 250 words per behaviour.

To apply, please complete the advertised CS Jobs application process by submitting your personal details and application including examples of how you have demonstrated the behaviours listed on the application form. These will be assessed to determine whether you should be invited for interview.

Subject to the number of applications received, candidates may be assessed against the lead behaviour 'Making Effective Decisions' only. Regardless of the process adopted, candidates must score a minimum of five against making effective decisions to be considered for interview.

Candidates who are successful at sift stage will be invited to an interview which will test their suitability against the three Civil Service Behaviours, associated strengths and the required essential skills and experience.

Candidates invited for interview will be required to provide a 5 minute presentation subject to be confirmed, no hand-outs or visual aids will be required.

Successful candidates who meet the criteria for these posts at interview but who are too low on the order of merit for appointment may be placed on a reserve list for other posts in Environmental Quality Directorate or elsewhere in Defra for up to 12 months.

Sift is likely to be in early to mid-October and interviews later that month/early November. Location for Interviews will be at Defra, Nobel House 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR.

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.

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

If successful and transferring from another Government Department a criminal record check maybe carried out.

In order to process applications without delay, we will be sending a Criminal Record Check to Disclosure and Barring Service 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 stating the job reference number in the subject heading.

Any move to Defra will mean you will no longer be able to carry on claiming childcare vouchers.

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

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.

Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs

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