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Civil Service Tests

Civil Service Tests

  • 16 tests
  • 204 questions
Civil Service Tests

The Civil Service Fast Stream is a leadership development programme that recruits once per year. Working at the heart of government, Fast Streamers work on some of the most complex issues facing Britain and the rest of the world.

Careers at Civil Service

The Civil Service delivers an extensive range of public services and supports the Government to develop and implement policies. Over 420,000 people are currently employed in the Civil Service across the UK and overseas.

Whether you’re passionate about foreign policy, want to deliver vital services to the public, develop the tech and infrastructure needed to ensure the country stays ahead, or influence future generations through education — there’s a job in the Civil Service to suit almost everyone.

And it’s yet another reason why it’s worth putting the time and effort into the highly competitive application process.

Within the Civil Service sits the Fast Stream programme, specifically designed to nurture and train future Civil Service leaders.

If you’re accepted onto the Fast Stream, your development will be heavily invested in and you’ll be trained up with leadership in mind. This does mean you won’t initially be able to choose which department you work in, but it’s also an incredible opportunity to learn from some of the country’s brightest minds and discover where your true passion lies.

Civil Service Application Process

  1. 1
    Online Application
  2. 2
    Work-Style Questionnaires
  3. 3
    Situational Judgement Questionnaires
  4. 4
    E-Tray Exercise
  5. 5
    Video Interview
  6. 6
    Numerical Reasoning Test
  7. 7
    Assessment Centre
  8. 8
    Final Selection Board

The Fast Stream application process is made to challenge even the most competent of individuals, since its purpose is to help find the Civil Service’s future leaders.

It’s a lot of work, but if you’re willing to put in the time, effort and preparation, the results could be life-changing.

As well as numerous psychometric tests and questionnaires, you’ll also have to complete e-tray exercises, a video interview, assessment centre and a final selection board.

At each point, you’ll be required to showcase your skills and strengths, while demonstrating the key competencies that are required of every individual who gets accepted onto the Fast Stream.

Online application

The online application form is the first stage of the process.

You’ll be asked to share details of your previous education and experience, to ensure you meet the minimum criteria for the role you’re applying for.

The application form also includes a Civil Service competency questionnaire in which you’ll need to detail examples of where you’ve demonstrated the qualities listed in the Civil Service Competency Framework.

With just 200 words per answer allowed, it’s important to get your point across concisely.

Work-style questionnaires

The work-style questionnaire presents you with a series of statements that you’ll have to respond to with your own character in mind. After reading each one, you’ll need to mark on a scale how much you agree or disagree with what you’ve read.

Next, you’ll be shown the same set of statements and asked to rank in order which one describes you best, through to which is the least representative of your character.

As always with personality-style questionnaires, honesty is the best policy. But it’s always worth keeping the key competencies in mind as you progress through the questions.

Overall the strengths and weaknesses of your character are being assessed; helping an employer to gain a better understanding of how well you’d fit into the Fast Stream programme and wider department.

Civil Service situational judgement questionnaires

Using the core Civil Service competencies as a guide for your answers, you’ll need to answer a series of multiple-choice questions about your relationship-building skills and the way that you think, in two different situational judgement questionnaires.

The first questionnaire requires you to show how comfortable you are making important judgement calls and big decisions. These will always be framed as workplace challenges; ones that you may well have to deal with should you be accepted onto the programme.

The second questionnaire is designed to probe how you think, by giving you a limited amount of information about a workplace situation, and then asking you to use the information to resolve a problem.

Both questionnaires consist of 12 questions followed by four potential actions. Your job is to rate the actions according to their effectiveness in solving the particular challenge you’re dealing with.

Civil Service E-tray exercise

Otherwise known as work-based scenarios, the E-tray exercise is designed to assess how well you can prioritise and work under pressure. This test usually lasts around 80 minutes.

Dynamic in nature, the test will involve a bit of background reading to set the scene. After that, emails that need responses, as well as tasks and requests, start popping up on your screen. Your job is to prioritise everything and action it accordingly.

The test is designed to simulate situations very similar to those you’ll face on the Fast Stream. It thus gives those setting the test a much clearer idea of whether you’re able to cope under pressure, and prioritise the things they’d deem the most important and worthy of your time.

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Civil Service video interview

The video interview will include a series of pre-set questions (as well as a practice question) which you’ll need to record video responses to. You normally have around 20 minutes to do this.

The questions tend to cover your experience, what motivates you and what you enjoy doing. It’s important to note that the competencies being examined at this stage of the application process are:

  • Collaborating and partnering
  • Managing a quality service
  • Building capability for all
  • Delivering at pace

You’ll be able to read and quickly pre-prepare the questions before filming your response.

Although having a short window in which to prepare your answers is positive, it’s worth remembering that the video interview format doesn’t allow you to expand on your answers or explain yourself further. As such, it’s really important you get across everything you need to, first time round.

Civil Service numerical test

It’s crucial to prepare for the numerical reasoning test part of the assessment, particularly if maths isn’t one of your strengths.

The Fast Stream numerical test is multiple-choice and supplied by Cubiks, so be sure to practice Cubiks tests to get to grips with the style and format of the questions.

Based largely on your ability to analyse and interpret data from different graphs, charts and tables, the numerical test is your chance to show off your mathematical skills — skills that will be highly valued in many different areas of the Civil Service.

Fast Stream assessment centre

If you pass the Fast Stream tests, you’ll be invited to the assessment centre — a half-day, in-person assessment consisting of the following:

Group exercise

In the group exercise, an assessor will be evaluating every candidate’s performance against three key markers:

  • 1) Making effective decisions
  • 2) Working together
  • 3) Communicating and influencing

A fictitious scenario will be given to the group, as well as the individual position you’re taking within that group, before you’ll engage in discussion.

The overall goal is to decide, within 40 minutes, what the best recommendation is. Not only will you need to try and get the best possible outcome for the position you’re representing, but for the group as well.

Leadership exercise

When it comes to the leadership exercise, you’ll need to show the following competencies:

  • 1) Seeing the bigger picture
  • 2) Changing and improving
  • 3) Working together
  • 4) Developing the self and others
  • 5) Communicating and influencing

You’ll be required to take part in a one-on-one role play, where you’ll be a Fast Streamer working for the Government and leading an important project or initiative.

You’ll get 30 minutes to review the information you need to take part, before a 30-minute role play with your assessor. They’ll be looking to see the competencies listed above in your response, as well as the confidence, assertiveness and general demeanour you’d expect to see in a leader.

Written exercise

In the written exercise, the four competencies or behaviours you’re being assessed on are:

  • 1) Seeing the bigger picture
  • 2) Changing and improving
  • 3) Making effective decisions
  • 4) Communicating and influencing

You’ll be given various bits of information and will need to examine the issues, answer a series of questions and put forward recommendations.

The most important part of the written test is showing how you arrive at a conclusion or recommendation by sharing the facts and figures that support your decision, and how well you express this in your writing.

Overall the test takes 90 minutes. It’s advised you spend around 30 minutes reading through the materials, before using the last 60 minutes to share your analysis and craft your answers.

Final selection board

The final selection board is the last stage of the process and therefore your last chance to show what makes you different, and why you’d be the perfect fit for the Fast Stream.

You’ll be asked a series of different questions, but should be prepared to talk about why you’ve applied to the Fast Stream, examples of things you’ve achieved that demonstrate the key competencies, and a general understanding and knowledge of the Civil Service that shows you’ve done your preparation.

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