UCL Human Resources


How to use the UCL Ways of Working

Ways of Working are relevant to all stages of the employee journey in professional services – from recruitment and on-boarding to appraisal and development.

...in appraisals

In planning priorities and development activities during appraisals or one-to-ones you should take account of UCL’s expectations regarding UCL Ways of Working for professional services as they relate to your role. It is recommended that three Ways of Working supporting indicators are selected for discussion at the appropriate grade. UCL Ways of Working Steps to Development at the relevant grade will be helpful in signposting possible development interventions. See Appraisal policy pages and forms for more details.

... in probation and induction

New starters at UCL should be introduced to the UCL Ways of Working early in their induction experience and probation conversations. See Induction and Probation policy and induction checklist. 

... in recruitment


Please note that HR Services will automatically add the following line to the bottom of each advert for all professional services roles:  The UCL Ways of Working for professional services supports colleagues to be successful and happy at UCL through sharing expectations around how we work.

Writing job descriptions and person specifications

As part of the Person Specification, the Ways of Working describe the required candidate behaviours and approach. The job description template for professional services roles has been adapted to include Ways of Working as essential criteria in the person specification.  Recruiting managers are encouraged to select up to three behavioural indicators at the appropriate grade to reflect the Ways of Working.

To find these indicators look at the Ways of Working page and find the appropriate grade. Pick out three supporting indicators that best reflect the needs of the job you are recruiting to. Ideally these should be one from each of the central themes of Personal Excellence, Working Together and Achieving our Mission.

Shortlisting and preparing for interviews

Shortlisting and interview templates have been adapted to include the Ways of Working. Recruiting managers for professional services roles are encouraged to assess the three behavioural indicators selected as part of the person specification during the interview process. 

We have developed an extensive bank of interview questions that align to our Ways of Working. Please contact your HR Business Partner if you would like to use these in an upcoming interview.  

Using Ways of Working questions at interview allow for a better result in the hiring process for both the candidate and the hiring manager.

For the candidate, a good Ways of Working question clearly sets out the expectations of the role they will be carrying out as well as explicitly asking for an example of past behaviour that demonstrates the ability to operate at the required level. For the hiring manager, they allow the identification of high performers and highlight the difference between the most and least effective candidates.

In order for a Ways of Working question to be most effective it requires three elements; 1) the lead, 2) the question, and 3) the behaviour. An example of a robust Ways of Working question would be:

‘Occasionally we have to provide a service to a difficult person. Tell me about a time you served someone whom others described as difficult.’

The above question is robust because it uses:

1.    The lead – ‘occasionally we have to provide a service to a difficult person’. An opening line like this informs the candidate of what we’re expecting in the job and telegraphs what we are looking for. A good lead will make it easy for the candidates who have what the interviewer is looking for to differentiate themselves and make the hiring manager’s decision as simple as possible.

2.    The question – Behavioural questions should ask candidates for a narrative and story that demonstrates the qualities you are looking for. When asked correctly, behavioural questions encourage a longer answer than candidates are normally inclined to give. Questions often take the form of:

  • Tell me about a time when…
  • Describe a situation where…
  • When have you had to…?
  • Share with me an example of you demonstrating…
  • Give me an example of a situation when…
  • Think of a time when…

3.    The behaviour – This is closely linked to the lead. The lead provides an idea of the job we want a person to do and the behaviour looks at how they approached a relevant scenario in the past.
Good Ways of Working questions allow candidates multiple opportunities to demonstrate positive behaviours that align to our Ways of Working.

A good question and follow up would be:
UCL is an organisation that values integrity. Describe a time when you challenged behaviour you found to be unacceptable in a constructive manner.

Probing Questions

  • How did you identify that the behaviour wasn’t acceptable?
  • How did you seek to resolve the issue?
  • Were there any challenges to this? If so, how did you respond to this?
  • What was the outcome of your approach?