The National Crime Agency has a wide variety of roles for those joining the job market for the first time, developing their career or experienced professionls who wish to work in an organisation dedicated to combating serious and organised crime.
We know that understanding the process can be daunting, so we have set out the steps below. Of course, interviews will vary slightly based on your experience and field of expertise - but here are the six main steps once you have searched for and found a suitable role:
Application guidance to candidates
How to complete an application form
There are a number of different ways you may be asked to evidence at application that you meet the requirements for the role. The method of assessment used at each stage will be stated on the job advert. Guidance on each of the different methods are below:
1. Your CV
You will be asked to input a CV when you apply for a role. This is often not assessed but will give an overview of your career history for the panel and should be tailored to the role you are applying for. Please ensure that all employment history including any gaps for the last 3 years are noted.
If the advert indicates that Technical or Experience criteria will be assessed from your CV then you should make sure you are evidencing in the relevant sections of your CV (which may be in the qualification section or roles and responsibilities section) how you meet the criteria.
2. Competency based application
You may sometimes be asked to evidence how you meet a technical, experience or behaviour using 250 words. You should structure your responses in a format known as STAR which helps to create easy-to-follow stories. By using this approach you are demonstrating your skills and explaining how you have used them in various situations.
When structuring your answers we want you to explain how you handled a situation and worked through problems to reach a successful outcome. Provide compelling, solid examples with details of what you did in each example.
SITUATION: The situation in which the example happened. Where were you? Who were you with? Why did this situation happen/occur? Consider just one or two main points that concisely illustrate the task that you needed to complete. You only need to provide a brief overview of the situation in 1 or 2 sentences.
TASK: Expand your answer by explaining the task you had responsibility for and why you had to complete it. Again, try and keep this as concise as you can, it only needs to be a brief overview.
ACTION: This part of your answer requires the most in-depth description as you will be marked largely on this area. Explain the specific actions you took to handle the situation or overcome the challenge. Identify some of the most useful steps you took, explaining how and why you took them. This may have been a team task but you need to focus on what you did and what you contributed to the task. Explain any barriers to delivery and how you overcame them, or whether the situation changed and you had to change your approach.
RESULT: Explain the results of the action you took. Was it a successful outcome? What was the outcome and what impact did this have? Provide a number of tangible benefits and a concrete example of the results of your efforts in this section. Add in any lessons learnt. You should spend less time on this section than on ACTION.
- Note the maximum word count
- Check for accuracy and spelling
- Keep it short, concise and relevant
- Acronyms- spell out on first use
- Tailor to the role you are applying for
- Use recent good quality examples
- Use ‘I’ not ‘We’
- Be honest and accurate
3. How to write a Personal Statement
Some roles may ask for a personal statement.
A personal statement will normally have a word limit of 1,250 words. It is your chance to show off your achievements, experience and skills tailored to the criteria specified on the job advert. We will also be looking to understand what motivated you to apply for this position. It will clearly state on the advert what criteria will be assessed from your personal statement. Where possible try and follow STAR format. However, you may choose to group some criteria together and evidence more than one criteria using one example. Try and indicate clearly in your personal statement when you evidencing each criteria.
Scoring of competency statements
Personal statements are usually scored using a 7 point rating scale using the following scores:
No positive evidence and/or substantial negative evidence demonstrated
Limited positive evidence and/or mainly negative evidence demonstrated
Moderate positive evidence but some negative evidence demonstrated
Adequate positive evidence and any negative evidence would not cause concern
Substantial positive evidence of the behaviour
Substantial positive evidence; includes some evidence of exceeding expectations at this level
The evidence provided wholly exceeds expectation at this level
4. Aptitude tests
Some roles may require you to do an ability test as part of the process, if this is required it will be stated on the advert.
They could be in the form of an online test such as a verbal or numerical reasoning test at application or a presentation, written exercise or in tray exercise during an assessment centre. You often cannot prepare for these but if an online test is required we recommend you getting exposure to the format and style of the questions by completing the online tests on https://www.gov.uk/guidance/preparing-for-the-civil-service-verbal-and-numerical-tests
Some online test taking tips include:
- Find a quiet place with no distractions
- Have some rough paper and calculator to hand to make notes
- Read all test instructions carefully
- Answer every question- you cannot skip or go back
- Make sure your internet connection is reliable
If you qualify for the Disability Confident Scheme guaranteed interview scheme you will be guaranteed an interview should you meet the essential qualifications/accreditation for the role as well as meet the minimum benchmark for each behaviour, skill, experience or technical criteria associated with the role.
Success Profiles for Application and Interview
You may find the Civil Service Success Profiles useful to read to help your application
Check out this seven minute video to find out more about applying to work in the Civil Service:
Frequently asked questions
If you have any further questions, we've created a frequently asked questions page just on recruitment to hopefully help answer them. Check it out here.
Once you have received a conditional offer for a role:
As an NCA officer, you may need access to sensitive information, assets or equipment as part of your role so it is vital that we do everything we can to keep you and them secure.
The pre-employment checks process helps employers and employees identify, manage and mitigate risks in roles where there is a national security concern. Because of the these reasons, checks can take approximately 16 weeks to complete for external candidates.
In order for checks to be completed as quickly as possible please respond to any questions and return any requested forms as promptly as you can. If the process is taking a while please don’t be concerned; the length of time is not an indication that there is a problem.
Pre-employment checks and vetting – what to expect
The level of vetting clearance required for your role will have been stated on the advert. All roles within the NCA require a minimum of Security Check (SC) enhanced clearance.
We know that going through the vetting process can be daunting and there are many misconceptions about the process. The team will be available to answer any questions you may have that have not already been covered in the FAQ section.
You will be asked to complete a security questionnaire. At times this may feel intrusive but please don’t worry, just be open and honest throughout the process. The process can be lengthy, especially if you are required to obtain Developed Vetting (DV) clearance.
UK Government Security Vetting has created a series of video clips on the topics listed below which provide further insight into the UK Government Vetting process:
- An overview of vetting
- Internet use
- Life experiences
- Sexuality & gender identity
- Nationality & travel
- Physical & mental health
You can access the videos by following the link using an internet-enabled device: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/demystifying-vetting
The NCA is a law enforcement agency and as such we are part of the Criminal Justice System. Therefore if you are going into an operational role we need to be aware if any of our officers have, either before they join us or afterwards, any of the following:
- Any criminal conviction (including by Court Martial), or caution or fixed penalty notice for disorder or theft
- Any adverse judicial findings
- Any charges or summonses where the proceedings are not complete
- Any misconduct or gross misconduct findings or where proceedings are not complete.
You will be asked to complete a declaration form covering the above if offered a role with the NCA.
Each case will be considered on its merits and a positive declaration does not automatically mean that your application will not be progressed. However, should you fail to disclose a relevant matter then your application or employment will be adversely affected. If in doubt, please declare it at this stage.
1. How long does the pre-employment checks process take?
You should expect the pre-employment checks process to take an average of 16 weeks to complete. However, please note this is just a guide and the time to complete all checks will be based on individual circumstances.
2. I have been accepted for a role in the National Crime Agency. When should I hand in my notice in my current job?
Please do not resign from your current role until you have successfully passed all pre-employment checks. Once complete, you will be notified of the outcome via email.
3. What types of checks will I need to go through?
The standard pre-employment checks for those joining the NCA on a permanent basis are a substance misuse test, right to work checks, employment history checks, medical clearance, and security vetting checks.
Depending on the role, successful candidates may be required to undertake a medical. If required, the medical will take place in either London or Warrington. Unfortunately, travel costs will not be reimbursed.
4. Will I be kept informed of progress with pre-employment checks?
You will be provided with an update on all stages of pre-employment checks as they are completed. However, you will not be informed what elements of the checks you have passed.
5. I’ve failed pre-employment checks previously, will this be an issue?
It is recommended that you do not apply for another NCA role for at least 12 months.
6. Will I be informed of the reasons if I don’t pass pre-employment checks?
No. For security reasons, you will not be told the reason for failing to meet NCA pre-employment check standards. There is no right to appeal.
7. How long do I need to have lived in the UK to undergo vetting checks?
For SC (Security Check Enhanced) you will need to have lived in the UK for 3 out of the last 5 years and for DV (Developed Vetting) you need to have lived in the UK for 5 out of 7 years. This does not need to be continuous. However, there are exceptions when residency abroad was due to UK government or military service.
8. Do I need to undergo security checks if I am joining the agency on Secondment, loan, attachment, as a contractor or on a fixed term appointment?
Yes. The full security checks process is still carried out.
9. How will I be informed that I have completed the pre-employment checks process?
Once all pre-employment checks have been completed you will be notified and a start date can then be arranged. All new employees start with an induction course into the agency, so this will be your first day in your new job.