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NEW 2020 Assistant Principal Officer Competition

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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 174 ✭✭dreamerb


    Sgro wrote: »
    Hi all - is it feasible to enter this from the private sector?

    Yes it is. Many people entering the competition will be civil / public servants, but people coming from the private sector have been appointed as APs and POs from previous competitions.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,812 ✭✭✭Addle


    It’s mostly external candidates I’ve seen being successful in all competitions of late.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5 Landslide79


    Hi All,

    I know it's a broad ask, but just discovered this thread and would really appreciate any feedback ye may have from previous experience in the competition, in terms of both the application and the testing/interview process. I'm new to this but like the rest of ye, want to do my best and be as prepared as I can for what seems to be a fairly arduous process!

    By way of background, have been in the private sector since leaving college, was lucky enough to land on my feet into secure and well-paid work but I have never found it fulfilling and have also always wanted to join the civil service.

    I saw the advert for the competition a few weeks ago and was very interested but thought that aiming for AP having never been in the civil service (or at senior management) was probably too ambitious. However a friend of a friend who is currently an AP mentioned the competition to me separately and encouraged me to apply. So going to assume that senior management experience isn't an absolute prerequisite? Any insights welcome, cheers.


  • Registered Users Posts: 395 ✭✭whampiri


    Hi All,

    I know it's a broad ask, but just discovered this thread and would really appreciate any feedback ye may have from previous experience in the competition, in terms of both the application and the testing/interview process. I'm new to this but like the rest of ye, want to do my best and be as prepared as I can for what seems to be a fairly arduous process!

    By way of background, have been in the private sector since leaving college, was lucky enough to land on my feet into secure and well-paid work but I have never found it fulfilling and have also always wanted to join the civil service.

    I saw the advert for the competition a few weeks ago and was very interested but thought that aiming for AP having never been in the civil service (or at senior management) was probably too ambitious. However a friend of a friend who is currently an AP mentioned the competition to me separately and encouraged me to apply. So going to assume that senior management experience isn't an absolute prerequisite? Any insights welcome, cheers.

    Knowledge of the system is always useful as is experience however the CS is continuously evolving and relevant external experience is equally as valuable.

    Apply for the role and see how you get on. It's only if you fail to get it once or twice that you will be able to identify the key areas for improvement. The competition for this role is always tough so don't get disillusioned by it if you're unsuccessful. It's a senior management position with a lot of responsibility but which pays quite well.


  • Registered Users Posts: 43 HelloPeeps


    As the previous poster said, its worth giving it a go, otherwise you'll never know.
    You should have a look at the competency framework for Assistant Principal. If you think that you can give 2 or three good examples of how you meet the each of the competencies than you are in with a strong chance. https://www.publicjobs.ie/restapi/documents/Assistant_Principal_Officer_Level.pdf

    I think a big advantage that existing civil servants have is understanding the recruitment process and how to present your experience in that context. Talk to any civil servants you know to get guidance on that.


    In terms of the process it is well worth reading through the (very long) thread about the 2018 competition. It will take you a while to trawl through it but there are some nuggets of gold in there - https://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2057902309


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,633 ✭✭✭urgelgru


    I'm an existing civil servant who's going for this competition in the hope that third time's the charm! That was the magic number for me getting the HEO anyway, though I'm still waiting to commence that job in the midst of the current crisis (my start date's been pushed back while the Department works out its social distancing situation!). There really is nothing to lose from putting in an application. It's great experience to go through the process, whatever form it takes this time around. Even with knockbacks I've had, I've always learned something through each competition. And I'm sure plenty of people ace it first time around!

    As mentioned above, the competency framework is great. I'd get to know that really well for starters, going through each one line by line. Work through your job history and see how you can work specific experiences, projects etc so that they line up with the sub-headings of the different competencies.

    The two previous competitions I did followed the format:

    Online aptitude test done at home.
    Sitdown aptitude test in Dublin (for verification purposes). There was a Job Simulation/e-Tray as part of this sitdown test as well. The e-Tray takes place over the course of a couple of hours. You're given a briefing pack, told you're working in a particular office, you've just taken over an AP role and you have a number of tasks to complete within the allotted timeframe. Write a letter, briefing note, answer some emails (multiple choice questions) etc. Nothing too mind boggling.

    I think they have may have introduced shortlisting the second time around I did this competition based on the application form but I can't remember if it was before the online testing or after. They change the goalposts a lot!

    Speaking of changing the goalposts, I've only skimmed the booklet to date seeing as they have extended the deadline but I think they're doing video interviews now before you ever get near an actual interview. I've done one of these in the past. They give you a few set questions and you prepare answers. You then have to log into an online portal and record the answers to the questions. You're not in front of a live board. You record it at time that suits you, within a specific time period. Each question has to be answered within a time limit once you press record. You can have the answers beside you if you want. I did this as part of AP Higher competition that I was eligible to enter after a good mark in the AP standard competition. I got the impression that it was something they would roll out in future competitions but haven't done it as part of the AP standard before.

    The video interview might allow them to forego the sitdown test in Dublin and allow the competition to progress with the minimum of fuss so they can hold actual interviews at a much later date when things have calmed down. I would imagine some sort of Job Simulation/e-Tray will be included, maybe on the same day as an actual interview this time around. If you look at the booklet, PAS always allow themselves a little leeway when it comes to what format they use in a competition. Presentations are used in competitions too. I find PAS them very professional and efficient in how they run competitions. And I'm not just saying that because I used to work with them, because I never got within an asses roar of organising a recruitment competition, and I'm gone from there years now!


  • Registered Users Posts: 35 Furby2020


    Can I ask how people are answering questions 1 and 2? Question 3 asks for a specific example so I am using STAR to work through an example for that one. However, for the other 2 I'm not so sure whether to give bullet point examples or may give 2 more detailed examples. Any thoughts?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,633 ✭✭✭urgelgru


    I haven't even started yet but I'm mindful that there's a 500 word limit on those answers so I doubt I'll be going into much detail but try and make sure I'm hitting the buzzwords! Probably need a few attempts at each one.


  • Registered Users Posts: 186 ✭✭ClaptonBay


    Does everyone that applies for these roles have a tax background? I have an accounting background with a diploma in tax but never worked too much in the area of tax apart from doing your typical tax comps in a shared services set up. Would there be any point in applying or do you need to have been working in tax for 4/5 years...


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,812 ✭✭✭Addle


    ClaptonBay wrote: »
    Does everyone that applies for these roles have a tax background? I have an accounting background with a diploma in tax but never worked too much in the area of tax apart from doing your typical tax comps in a shared services set up. Would there be any point in applying or do you need to have been working in tax for 4/5 years...
    It’s not a Revenue specific competition.

    Read the job specification and application form. There’s also additional info about the role on the pas website.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2 Lottie25


    Hi All,

    I was wondering if anyone has advice about preparing for the online aptitude tests? I know it's possible to practice on the SHL website but is there anything else that people have found useful to prepare for these in the past?- numerical reasoning is unfortunately not my strong point.

    I'm conscious that no matter how much time I put into my application form I need to get past the first hurdle!


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,633 ✭✭✭urgelgru


    Numerical reasoning will almost always be a pass mark and does not count towards your order of merit unless the role itself has some sort of maths element. I went for a data analyst role a couple of years ago, did my usual "just enough to pass numerical" only to get an unpleasant surprise when I opened the results email and saw that they were counting the maths result towards the OOM. It probably said it in the pre-exam booklet and I didn't read it properly, attention to detail and all that... ;)

    Two good sites for test info:
    https://www.assessmentday.co.uk/
    https://www.jobtestprep.co.uk/

    I've had paid membership to them both at different times in the past and found them both good. But I think there's practice material and tips on there for free as well.

    Time management is the most important thing if the maths if your weak point like mine. Divide the amount of time by the number of questions and you get a rough idea of the average time you should be spending per question. Some questions the answer will be obvious and you'll click through them in seconds. Then other ones will require multiple calculations. You have to make a judgment call in your head whether some questions are worth your time. That's the way I've learned to approach the numerical anyway.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2 Lottie25


    Thanks so much- I'll definitely give those sites a shot and work on the time management.

    It's great to know it's usually a pass mark for this comp- would love to get to the next stage of the process.


  • Registered Users Posts: 395 ✭✭whampiri


    There's nobody able to answer that question, especially with the current scenarios. It's based on the number of vacancies available. As most Departments are Dublin based, they will have the most but even that is assuming the same rate of places currently available and opening up over the next while.


  • Registered Users Posts: 225 ✭✭Anonire


    Form gone in fingers crossed. First time applying for this one but got through to ap interview in a different department previously. Hopefully if I get to interview stage I will do better the next time.

    Best of luck to everyone


  • Registered Users Posts: 172 ✭✭Forthebuzz


    Badly need to start on my form for this!! Looks much shorter than the one for 2018 campaign thankfully


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,978 ✭✭✭Caranica


    Forthebuzz wrote: »
    Badly need to start on my form for this!! Looks much shorter than the one for 2018 campaign thankfully

    I'm the same!


  • Registered Users Posts: 78 ✭✭BMHOPE


    500 hundred words is a big jump from 200 last week in Revenue one, I was hoping to copy and paste but alas more effort required. Best of luck everyone. It will probably be a long process in the current climate, hopefully there won't be a moratorium on recruiting after this pandemic. Keep safe.


  • Registered Users Posts: 156 ✭✭res1


    td1 wrote: »
    Is anybody else having an issue opening the form? I've tried various browsers and get the same error message on each, even though I have the latest version of Adobe?

    Please wait...
    If this message is not eventually replaced by the proper contents of the document, your PDF viewer may not be able to display this type of document.
    You can upgrade to the latest version of Adobe Reader for Windows®, Mac, or Linux® by visiting http://www.adobe.com/go/reader_download.
    For more assistance with Adobe Reader visit http://www.adobe.com/go/acrreader.
    Windows is either a registered trademark or a trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Mac is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the United States and other countries. Linux is the registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the U.S. and other countries.

    I have had the same problem. Check in your downloads chances are it is in there already as an editable PDF.


  • Registered Users Posts: 337 ✭✭lucat


    I'm doing the form now. I always have trouble with that last wishy-washy question. What do they actually want to to see when they ask about "commitment to public service values"? Should I tell them that I volunteer? Doesn't my entire application form speak to the fact that I'm a hard worker? Is this not more like a philosophy question because it asks about an ideology? I have no idea what they're looking for.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 327 ✭✭Cheeseplant


    lucat wrote: »
    I'm doing the form now. I always have trouble with that last wishy-washy question. What do they actually want to to see when they ask about "commitment to public service values"? Should I tell them that I volunteer? Doesn't my entire application form speak to the fact that I'm a hard worker? Is this not more like a philosophy question because it asks about an ideology? I have no idea what they're looking for.

    Where is this question?? Are you discussing this in supplementary info?


  • Registered Users Posts: 225 ✭✭Anonire


    lucat wrote: »
    I'm doing the form now. I always have trouble with that last wishy-washy question. What do they actually want to to see when they ask about "commitment to public service values"? Should I tell them that I volunteer? Doesn't my entire application form speak to the fact that I'm a hard worker? Is this not more like a philosophy question because it asks about an ideology? I have no idea what they're looking for.

    I thought that competency was usually assessed in the interview not as a specific question but they give you a mark for it based on the answers you gave to other questions.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,633 ✭✭✭urgelgru


    lucat wrote: »
    I'm doing the form now. I always have trouble with that last wishy-washy question. What do they actually want to to see when they ask about "commitment to public service values"? Should I tell them that I volunteer? Doesn't my entire application form speak to the fact that I'm a hard worker? Is this not more like a philosophy question because it asks about an ideology? I have no idea what they're looking for.

    I just give an overall description of how freaking awesome I am based on my career to date. :D

    To be fair, I went back to my application for the last HEO competition, copied the answer from that and pasted it in, adding a line about how I hope to contribute to the service in the difficult months ahead.:o

    I put the application in today because otherwise I was going to spend hours upon hours trying to embellish something on Q2. I don't really have strong experience on the whole strategic/operations/change mangement side of things. I've literally just been promoted to HEO and things are up in a hape!!!
    Hopefully if I manage to get as far as interview stage I'll have my HEO experience to draw from but right now I'm not there.

    (I never bother putting anything for supplementary information but I suppose that would be a good place to put things like some additional qualifications that don't fit in the educational boxes, or volunteer work etc)


  • Registered Users Posts: 208 ✭✭Steamer


    So are you guys summarising experiences under the headings for 1&2 and then one example for 3?


  • Registered Users Posts: 337 ✭✭lucat


    Where is this question?? Are you discussing this in supplementary info?

    Apologies I've just double checked. I'm using a couple of old applications as a template for my answers and it was asked in all of them, but apparently not in this one. I must have been looking at the wrong form when I asked this question.

    It's normally assessed somehow or other but it looks like it'll be approached as a 'soft skill' in this competition, which is how it should be treated. Yes I will talk about volunteering in the Supplementary Info, and maybe some courses I've done etc.


  • Registered Users Posts: 106 ✭✭monkeylover10


    res1 wrote: »
    I have had the same problem. Check in your downloads chances are it is in there already as an editable PDF.

    I'm having the same problem. I've downloaded the Adobe reader & went to downloads & it still wont open just telling me the same error.


  • Registered Users Posts: 337 ✭✭dee75


    I'm having the same problem. I've downloaded the Adobe reader & went to downloads & it still wont open just telling me the same error.

    Might be worth trying a different browser- Chrome or Firefox if you've been using Internet Explorer. I had similar issues and switching worked.


  • Registered Users Posts: 78 ✭✭BMHOPE


    Internet explorer worked for me, it would not open in Google chrome at all. I was told that the supplementary information is quite important summary of your fit for the requirements and this was from a person that filtered down the applicants for a different competition. They felt it is often the first section looked at to put applicants in yay or nay categories.


  • Registered Users Posts: 41 Bob Cratchit


    I'm having the same problem. I've downloaded the Adobe reader & went to downloads & it still wont open just telling me the same error.

    I had the same problem - but there was a banner across the top of the pdf with a button to enable all features. Once I hut that it worked fine


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,633 ✭✭✭urgelgru


    BMHOPE wrote: »
    Internet explorer worked for me, it would not open in Google chrome at all. I was told that the supplementary information is quite important summary of your fit for the requirements and this was from a person that filtered down the applicants for a different competition. They felt it is often the first section looked at to put applicants in yay or nay categories.

    I've honestly never filled in that box and I've gotten through shortlisting every time that process has been applied. Not saying I'll make it through this time mind...


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