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HMRC Application Process

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Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is one of the UK Government’s non-ministerial departments.

Its purpose is to safeguard cash flow to the Exchequer. This is achieved through its collection, compliance and enforcement strategies.

HMRC calculates how much money is owed by millions of people and businesses nationwide.

It is responsible for collecting this money, including several different types of tax.

These include income tax, inheritance tax, capital gains tax, value-added tax (VAT) and environmental taxes.

HMRC is also responsible for recovering Student Loan repayments.

The money collected by HMRC is used to fund the UK’s public services, including:

HMRC manages the payment and administration of benefits. These benefits include:

  • Tax-free childcare
  • Statutory pay (for example, statutory maternity pay or statutory sick pay)
  • Tax credits
  • Child benefit

HMRC enforces the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and Living Wage.

HMRC ensures that international trade runs efficiently and legitimately. To achieve this, it collects UK trade statistics.

It also protects fiscal, social, economic and physical security, both before and at the UK border.

It also administers the Government Banking Service. This banking service is shared by central government departments and other customers in the public sector.

Almost every UK citizen and business is a customer of HMRC, so there is a high volume of work. As a result, its key aim is to manage the tax system simplistically, putting customer needs at the centre of operations.

With more than 60,000 employees, HMRC is one of the UK’s biggest employers.

Career opportunities are available in many different areas, including:

  • Data analysis
  • Commercial services
  • Communications team
  • Digital, data and technology
  • Financial services
  • Estates and property services
  • People management (human resources)
  • Legal team
  • Operational delivery
  • Policy
  • Projects

HMRC has Investors in People accreditation. This means it is recognised for its commitment to:

  • Development of staff
  • Looking after employee health and wellbeing
  • Offering apprenticeship training schemes

Employees of HMRC receive a generous rewards package, including:

  • Competitive pensions
  • Modern working facilities
  • Opportunities for flexible working
  • Employee assistance programme
  • Health & wellbeing benefits

HMRC requires its employees to act with professionalism and integrity. You will be expected to show respect to everyone you meet.

It is also important that you have an innovative mindset and you are open to new ideas.

There are several application routes available to prospective employees:

  • Apprenticeship (you can apply to be an apprentice regardless of your age)
  • Tax professional graduate programme (for university graduates)
  • Specialist in HMRC digital
  • Experienced hire via the Civil Service recruitment site

HMRC Graduate Scheme

The duration of HMRC’s intensive graduate scheme is approximately three years.

At the end of the programme, you will have the professional skills and technical knowledge to offer an effective service to customers.

The graduate scheme runs from September each year. To be eligible, you must have (or expect to receive) a 2:2 degree before the programme start date.

Civil servants without a degree can apply, provided they were recruited via fair and open competition and have successfully completed their probation period.

You must meet the nationality and right to work criteria:

  • British citizens
  • Citizens of the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • Commonwealth citizens
  • Swiss nationals
  • Turkish nationals may be eligible but only in certain circumstances

Applicants will need to have the right to work in the UK and meet the immigration and visa requirements.

Applications are only accepted through the Civil Service recruitment site. CVs are not accepted. You may only apply once per annual intake.

The application process is divided into three stages:

Stage 1

Stage 1 is split into two:

Stage 1 (a)

Usually takes place from mid-October to early November.

Completion of application form and Civil Service judgement test.

You will be advised whether your application has been successful or unsuccessful. Successful applicants will progress to Stage 2.

Stage 1 (b)

Usually takes place from mid-November to the end of November.

You will be asked to complete the Civil Service verbal reasoning test.

If you meet the minimum required standard, you will be asked to complete the Civil Service numerical test.

If you meet the minimum required standard, you will be asked to complete the Civil Service strengths test.

If you meet the minimum required standard, your application will be put on hold for additional consideration.

Stage 2

Usually takes place from early December to mid-December and consists of a video interview.

Stage 3

Usually takes place in February and is a one day virtual assessment centre.

On occasion, unsuccessful candidates may be offered an officer role where they have performed well but fallen short of the necessary standard for the TSP.

The TSP Programme

The TSP programme is divided into two stages:

Stage 1 (Year 1)

You will gain a broad understanding of the different areas of tax, learning new skills on the job. You will be allocated a casework portfolio, helping customers to get their tax affairs in order and negotiating on disputes.

Upon commencing the TSP, you will be working as a compliance caseworker. This means you will respond to enquiries into a variety of individuals, company and partnership tax returns.

You will be expected to investigate and identify errors or omissions in tax returns. Your overall goal will be to ensure the correct amount of tax has been paid by every customer.

When you identify discrepancies, you will issue information notices and penalties to customers. At times, you will need to refund money if too much tax has been paid.

Stage 2 (Years 2 and 3)

You will gain in-depth tax knowledge in a particular line of the business and build on your professional skills.

You will be expected to demonstrate the comprehension and ability to work as a tax professional leader for HMRC.

Part of the programme requires the completion of self-study modules, so you will need to be self-motivated. Your learning will be consolidated by attendance at a training centre for tutor-led training.

You will be expected to travel to the appropriate training centre. There will be a formal assessment at the end of every module.

Time to study is allocated within the programme; however, you should expect to do some studying in your own time too.

You will take part in frequent development reviews and appraisals with your manager.

This will ensure you are supported to apply your learning to your practical work and that you are performing to the required standard.

Following successful completion of the graduate programme, you will be promoted to the role of senior tax professional (Grade 7).

HMRC Application Process
HMRC Application Process

Grade 7 roles are held by senior leaders with the organisation. The duties of the role will vary between departments; however, it could involve team leadership, technical specialism or managing compliance and enforcement activities.

What Does HMTC Look For in an Applicant?

The Success Profile Framework is at the core of Civil Service recruitment. It is designed to help the organisation to attract and retain high-quality talent.

The following elements are used, although not all of them are relevant to every job role:

  • Ability
  • Experience
  • Technical
  • Strengths
  • Behaviours

Behaviours include:

  • Changing and improving
  • Seeing the big picture
  • Leadership
  • Making effective decisions
  • Working together
  • Communicating and influencing
  • Developing self and others
  • Managing a quality service
  • Delivering at pace

The recruiting manager will identify the behaviours relevant to the job role and job level at the start of the recruitment process. These will then be assessed at various stages.

They are used to understand how an applicant has previously handled a particular situation or how they might react to it in the future.

The recruiting manager will shortlist according to the required behaviours for the job role.

In your application form, you should give relevant examples of how and when you have demonstrated a skill or behaviour.

This also applies to answering questions during the interview process. Use STAR (situation, task, action, result) to ensure you include all of the relevant information in a concise way.

When answering questions, always use ‘I’ rather than ‘we’. This will help you to convey your specific role in a situation or work task.

Step-by-Step HMRC Application Process

Application Form

This is a simple form that asks for basic personal information, including your full name, address and work history

Aptitude Tests

Civil Service Judgement Test

You will be required to answer multiple-choice scenario questions. It is important to become familiar with the Civil Service core values before completing this assessment.

Civil Service Verbal Reasoning

This test will assess your ability to highlight relevant points within written information, making logical conclusions.

Civil Service Numerical Reasoning

This test will assess your ability to make calculations and resolve problems by evaluating and interpreting numerical data.

Civil Service Work Strengths Test

This is an online test designed to evaluate your strengths: the things you do frequently, the things you do well and the things that motivate you.

There are two versions of the test, and you will complete the one that is most appropriate to the role you have applied for.

The test is split into three parts, all of which can be completed online.

In part 1, you will answer questions relating to your preferences and behaviour in the workplace. You will rate these on a scale from 'very strongly agree' to 'very strongly disagree'.

In part 2, you will evaluate typical workplace scenarios appropriate to the job level you have applied for. You will be presented with 10 different scenarios; for each one, you will need to rate four actions as being either counterproductive, ineffective, fairly effective and effective.

Part 3 is linked to part 2, but rather than rating the effectiveness of the actions, you will be asked to decide which course of action you would be most likely to choose and which you would be least likely to choose.

Video Interview

This is carried out through an online portal. You can gain access through your laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Your chosen device will need to have a camera and be connected to the internet.

Upon starting the interview, questions will appear on the screen, and you will need to record a video of yourself answering each question. You will be able to see yourself on screen while you are answering.

Online Assessment Centre

If invited to the HMRC TSP assessment centre, you will be asked to take part in four tasks over two days:

First Day

In Tray Task:

During this 75-minute task, you will be given a theoretical workload. You will need to make decisions and respond to different requests.

The information will be presented to you in several different ways, for example, graphs or written data.

You will need to manage your time appropriately, prioritise your workload and complete the necessary tasks.

Group Discussion Exercise:

You will be assigned to a group and provided with two different briefs. The core brief will be given to all members of the group.

Each individual will also be given their own personal brief, setting out their role within the group.

You will need to make high-quality contributions to the discussion, as well as demonstrating effective listening skills. You will need to be respectful of other group members at all times.

The assessor will also be looking at your general attitude within the group, including how you deal with difficult people and how you encourage participation from people who are not contributing very much.

Second Day

Written Analysis Exercise and Presentation:

This exercise is split into two parts. During the initial 90 minutes, you will be provided with materials and asked to write a report.

During the second part of the exercise, you will have 30 minutes to devise and present a briefing on your findings.

The person assessing your presentation will act in the role of a client.

Role Play Exercise:

This task is split into four parts. In total, it takes around 55 minutes to complete. Your aim will be to role-play the resolution of a customer issue.

The role of the customer will be played by a trained HMRC role-player. Another assessor will be present to observe your interaction with the role player.

Your performance for each task will be assessed against the following competencies:

  • Customer focus
  • Team working
  • Organisation and planning
  • Decision making
  • Analytical skills

Top Tips for Applying to HMRC

Do Your Research

Become familiar with Civil Service documents, including the Civil Service values, standards of behaviour and success profiles recruitment guidance.

This will help you to understand what the assessors are looking for in a candidate.

Be Clear on Your Reasons for Applying

Jobs with HMRC are in high demand; therefore, the recruitment process is highly competitive.

You will need to be able to articulate why you want to work for HMRC and what you will bring to the organisation.

Consider your personal strengths and why these will be useful in your chosen field. Practice explaining these to a friend or family member clearly and concisely.

Practice aptitude tests online.

There are many websites where you can complete aptitude tests similar to the ones used in the HMRC recruitment process.

This is a useful way to find out the types of questions you are likely to be asked. It will also give you a confidence boost and help you to manage your time.

Record Yourself Answering Interview Questions

You may feel nervous about recording yourself answering questions during the video interview stage of the recruitment process.

Research typical interview questions and have a go at answering these on camera.

You can watch the video back afterwards and consider any improvements you need to make. For example, your body language or the speed at which you speak.

You could ask a trusted friend or family member to offer some honest feedback too.

Practice Answering Interview Questions Using STAR

This will be useful at both the video interview and assessment centre. Using STAR, you will talk about the situation and explain what your task was.

Then you will tell the assessor what actions you took and what the end result was. What went well? What would you do differently next time?

Keeping STAR in mind before you answer each question will help you to stay focused.

Final Thoughts

HMRC is committed to staff development and offers a generous rewards package. As one of the largest employers in the UK, jobs at HMRC are in high demand.

Before applying for a job with HMRC, you should research the different career paths and specialisms that are available.

This will help you to decide which training route will best meet your personal values, strengths and interests.


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