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Our competencies

At GCHQ, we measure the aptitude of our staff and candidates against seven key competencies. We also have varying level requirements which depend on the role you are applying for. You’ll need to be able to explain how you successfully meet each of the competency requirements through your skills and experience, and can expect to be asked competency based questions at interview to ensure you are at the required level. A little more information about each of our competencies can be found below.

These competencies only apply to campaigns launched before 1 September 2023

Respects diversity and equality, is an effective team player and helps others develop.

This is really looking for evidence of how you interact with other people, how you use their skills effectively in getting the work done, how you value the different skills they bring and help them to develop new ones.

Adopts a business-led approach from planning to delivery, focusing on outcomes. Planning / prioritising / goal-setting, setting objectives, taking responsibility.

This is the one that relates to the effective planning and prioritising of work in order to achieve a single required outcome or, at the higher levels, outcomes on a number of tasks or projects, the requirements of which may conflict at times. It also looks at how well you identify and manage risks (eg security-related) that may affect your work.

Works closely with customers (internal and / or external) to define and meet their needs where possible and to manage their expectations
Providing service, understanding customers’ needs, managing expectations

This is about developing a good working relationship with your customers. Customers can be internal or external. Basically it is anyone to whom you provide a service. You have a responsibility to treat them with respect and to provide as a minimum the agreed level of service but also to be honest and upfront if you cannot meet their expectations and to try to sort out a mutually acceptable way forward.

Understands the importance of GCHQ’s work to the vital interests of the nation and uses. Departmental resources efficiently, effectively and legally.

This covers two elements:

  • Understanding what the Department is trying to achieve and where you fit into that mission and also the legal requirements that impact upon us and the need to adhere to Departmental policy (in fact the ineffective behaviours on this one include trying to undermine policies and procedures and following one's own agenda rather than the Department's);
  • Thinking about how you and others can make the most effective and efficient use of resources, including your own time and experience.

Is positive about change and innovation in developing the organisation to make it more flexible and creative. Positive response to change, better ways of working, impact on others of change.

This one is about having new ideas and working to implement them. Also being receptive to change around you and thinking about the impact that change may have on others.

Conducts appropriate analysis in order to make informed decisions quickly, effectively, and in keeping with Departmental policies. Objective, methodical approach; option / risk appraisal, uses others.

This covers two elements:

  • Gathering and effective consideration of the relevant facts;
  • Weighing up available options and coming up with decisions.

As your career progresses, this becomes about the complexity of the decision, its impact, and the complexity of the environment in which it’s made. It’s also about committing to actions and decisions.

Communicates information effectively and share information, knowledge and experience willingly and securely with others.

This covers two elements:

  • Being able to communicate effectively, thinking about who you need to communicate with and thinking about the most effective and efficient method of communicating a given message. It is not confined to verbal communications but includes all communications paths.
  • Looking for opportunities to share the knowledge you have with other people who would benefit from it and also encouraging others to communicate effectively.

Details on competencies for campaigns launched after 1 September 2023 can be found on the How to apply page.