Graduate Schemes in Civil Service are among one of the most sought after, due to a high profile and prestigious job careers they offer. Every year more than ten thousand people are applying for about 1000 available vacancies. As soon as they got in, they embark on a journey, that is both demanding and rewarding.

One of Civil Service prominent graduate entry schemes is called Civil Service Fast Stream, that offers a wide range of roles within services such as Finance, Diplomacy, Health, Science, and Technology.

If you want to be one of the few who will know how to address the complex issues that we face as a nation, look at the short descriptions of the scheme below.
While preparing your strategy, please bear in mind that The Application Process for each position will vary and not all of the steps will apply for the job position you are applying for.

Civil Service Application Process

Stage 1: Online Test

  • E-tray Exercise
  • Video Interview
  • Situational Judgement Tests
  • Personality Tests

Stage 2: Assessment Centre

  • Written Exercise
  • Presentation
  • Interview
  • Group Exercise
  • Leadership Exercise

Stage 3: Final Assessment Centre (role dependent)

Civil Service Psychometric Tests

Psychometric tests are a key component of Civil Service ’s Application Process. Depending on the Graduate Program route the candidates are taking, they might be required to sit Numerical Reasoning Tests, Situational Judgement Tests, E-tray Exercises, Personality Tests, and Verbal Reasoning Test. Details on Civil Service psychometric tests can be found below.
While preparing, it’s worth remembering that during the Civil Service Online Application you can only proceed to the next test, if you have successfully completed the previous one.

Civil Service E-tray Exercise

Before you skip this section, we have to clarify – it’s not just the ‘e-mail skills’, so you might want to consider preparing for this exercise as well. In fact, rather than checking your e-mail literacy Civil Service E-Tray Exercise is a simulated work task measuring your probable performance in the public service sector.The exercise will correspond with your future day- to- day responsibilities, as it is tailored both to the wider civil service framework and to the very specific role you are applying for.

One of the possible scenarios might be a situation when you receive a bunch of e-mails which you are expected to read and respond to while proving ability to prioritise and process information. Bur rather than just checking if you can get hold of your inbox, it is your multitasking skills and ability to be organised under pressure that is being verified. This has to be done in a manner as if you have been an employed already. Since you pictured yourself joining the Civil Service, this shouldn’t be too complicated, however, to get that confidence you might want to consider practising a little bit before. Here’s the link how to do it.


Civil Service Online Interview

If you are invited to the Civil Service Video Interview you will be provided with an access to a platform that will record your responses.
Stating the obvious, you will need a PC equipped with a front-facing webcam, microphone, and good Internet connection. Although it might be tempting to wear casual clothes, stick to the formal dress code you would wear for a normal interview. Be professional – consider choosing a quiet environment to avoid any background noise and in a brightly lit room, so the interviewers could recognise you.

If you are intimidated by the camera, you can always practice your answers beforehand. It will be a classical evaluative interview aimed at detecting your skills and strengths necessary for the role you have chosen to follow.

Civil Service Situational Judgement Test

The Civil Service Situational Judgement Test is a set of questions assessing how you might react to hypothetical events and situations that might be encountered while performing your job as a civil servant. Based on your answers to these questions, it will be verified how aligned you are with values and behaviours respected and desired in the Civil Service. As a future civil servant, you will be accountable to the public, so you have to make sure you are familiar with the standards of the sector.

Whilst Situational Judgement Tests vary in form, usually, you will be presented with a number of descriptions to which you are obliged to provide an appropriate response from a multiple choice list. So, try to be as sensible as you can and use the full capacity of your emotional intelligence.

These tests concentrate on your ‘ people skills’ so, good communication and networking abilities should earn you a few points. However, the quite straightforward and simplistic formula of these tests can be misleading. In any Situational Judgement Test, there is a catch in the high probability of any of the presented answers. So although it is recommended to think in accordance with the promoted values outlined on the Civil Service’s profile, in order to really ace your performance you might want to work on your situational- judgement muscles while taking the mocking Civil Service Situational Judgement Tests.

Civil Service Personality Test

As you probably aware, there are core values and standards of behaviour expected from all civil servants to uphold, regardless the sector’s path they are taking. The Civil Service Personality Test, therefore, aims at validating your dedication, commitment and most importantly ability to recognise these values and how probable is that you would likely to follow them.

The Civil Service Personality Test is a set of questions like any other Personality Tests, so there are no right or wrong answers, however, you are expected to demonstrate certain behaviours that would help you to achieve you the outlined tasks and will enable you to comply with the Civil Service Competency Framework.


Civil Service Assessment Centre

If you are successful with the initial online stages, you will be invited to the half-day Civil Service Assessment Centre in one of the assessment centres in either London or Newcastle. However, for some of you, this is not the end of the journey just yet. Depending on the specific role you are applying for, you might be further asked to attend the Final Assessment Centre. But let’s see what you need to pass this stage.

a) Written Assignment – you will be given a plethora of reading related to the specific domain of the Graduate Scheme you are applying for. This could be for example a voluminous report on National Insurance Health Funding on which you will have to write a short brief. So it’s a time pressure tasks, that assesses not only your verbal reasoning, and analytical skills but also ability to keep your head while in a stressful situation.

b) Presentation – This stage could take two forms. You might be given a topic to research and prepare your presentation beforehand, or you will be supplied with materials during the actual assessment centre and have limited time to prepare. Anyhow, it is important that you practice your presentation skills. If you are not a born speaker and feel like you could use a little bit more advice, you can check the Assessment Centre Guide, for more useful tips.

c) Interview – Civil Service Interviews are usually standard competency based, panel interviews during which you will have to chat with more than one interviewer. You might also expect questions that will be related to the above-mentioned Civil Service Competency Framework. So thorough research on the desired values and behaviours at is absolutely compulsory if you want to outshine other candidates at this stage.

d) Group Exercise – As a civil servant, you would need to know how to make your own voice heard in a non- overbearing manner. These exercises will vary, but the general skills that the assessors are looking for is a good balance between teamwork and leadership skills. You might want everyone in the room to see your great leadership skills, but approach the group exercise rather as a test of your collaborative and teamwork abilities than a show of a directorship. One of the most probable ways of verifying these skills is through a group discussion on a divisive topic or a collaboration on a draft of a project.

e) Leadership Exercise and Role Play – You have might already be asked to give an example when you have demonstrated leadership skills, however, this probably was just a prelude to the Civil Service Leadership Exercise. Finally – it’s the time when everyone is interested in how you approach and solve the problem while at the same time delegating different tasks to your colleagues. These will be usually assessed through a role play relating to a type of situation that you would face as a civil servant in your department.

If you like more information on real-life Civil Service Fast Stream Assessment Centre, you can visit Glassdoor

Civil Service Final Selection

Unlike the regular Civil Service Assessment, this one will be more structured to your actual application profile as well as the part of the programme. All the information needed will be delivered to you before the actual meeting. Although it may sound like a ‘black box’ full of surprises, we are sure that if you have managed to get to this stage, everything should be fine now!


Application Process

Stage 1: Online Test
Stage 2: Assessment Centre
Stage 3: Final Assessment Centre




Prepare for your CIVIL SERVICE tests

  • Practice Numerical Reasoning Tests

  • Practice Verbal Reasoning Tests

  • Practice Diagrammatic Reasoning Tests

  • Practice Situational Judgement Tests

  • Practice Assessment Centre Tests

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There are many different Fast Stream schemes available to suit all interests, skills and talents from commercial to digital. The point of the scheme is to prepare graduates for leadership roles within the Civil Service within 3 to 5 years and offers a large variety of supported learning and development, professional qualifications, training courses, mentoring and much more.

For some positions you will have to be a British citizen, mainly those related to security and intelligence. Most posts, however, are open to a wider range of people requiring you to be a European Economic Area or Commonwealth citizen. Check individual schemes for the exact requirements. You’ll be expected to have a minimum 2.2 degree and there is no time limit on when you graduated. That said, some schemes require a 2.1. In terms of general skills that are required, this is very much dependent on the scheme that you are applying for but you can also find a list of their desired competencies on their website.

The schemes available are split into corporate and analytical.

  • Corporate schemes;

Central Departments (Generalist) – this 4-year scheme will give you a wide range of experience in different departments, working on important issues such as employment and improving public services. You’ll have 4 postings in your first 2 years, lasting 6 months each and then 2 further ones lasting a year each. You’ll be placed in 3 different departments over a range of UK locations.

Diplomatic Service (Generalist) – This will introduce you to roles ranging from supporting British nationals affected by terrorist attacks or natural disaster to being involved in renegotiating EU membership. You may be expected to travel in this scheme but the first 2 years will be at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. At the end of the two years you’ll be expected to go abroad for a 3 – 4-year placement, although it isn’t mandatory.

Houses of Parliament (Generalist) – In this scheme you will work either in the Houses of Commons or the House of Lords. Employees of this area are expected to serve Parliament, not the government of the day and so will be politically neutral. Your role will vary greatly and you’ll be expected to learn about Parliament, government and so on. You’ll be mainly based at Westminster.

Science and Engineering (Generalist) – You’ll work on issues such as climate change, defence technology, food production amongst others. You will need to have an understanding of science or engineering and will work on developing this knowledge whilst learning new skills. You’ll have a 1-year posting in the first, third and fourth years of the scheme, whilst the second year will involve a 6-month posting and a 6-month secondment to an external organisation.

Commercial – This programme is a 4-year scheme whereby you will take on a number of posts in a range of departments, ensuring the government implements policies and deliver services efficiently.

Finance – this scheme gives you the opportunity to help shape the government’s financial policy whilst gaining experience in different areas of government. You’ll complete 6 different placements over the course of this 4-year programme, including roles both inside and outside of the Civil Service.

European – You’ll be working on European issues and will use your language skills to help represent the UK in Europe. You’ll spend 4 years on this scheme with EU-focussed postings working on projects involving EU policy, negotiation and even climate to name a few. You’ll also undertake a 5 or 6-month placement in Brussels.

Human Resources – This area is key to the Civil Service and you’ll help to deliver complex services, develop effective leaders and build a capable workforce. You’ll undertake a range of placements all and will be located all over the UK.

Government Communication Service – This area deals with all communication with the public about government policies and public service stories. You’ll work across a broad range of departments, including the press office, marketing, media relations and internal communications teams. The 4-year scheme comprises of 8 placements overall ranging from 6 months to a year.

Digital and Technology – You’ll have the opportunity to work in one of 17 departments involved in technology transformation in government, taking on roles such as content designer or user researcher. You’ll also gain experience in Agile ways of working and coding. This 3-year programme provides 4 placements spending 6 months at a time in each department, with the final year in a specialised role.

Project Delivery – Throughout this 4-year scheme you will gain experience in the entire lifecycle of a project, working on many different types, from IT through to infrastructure. You’ll work in a different department for each placement which will be either 6 or 12 months.

  • Analytical Schemes;

Government Economic Service – This scheme doesn’t simply involve analysing figures, you’ll be closely involved in shaping policy and can lead to a wide variety of career prospects. You will be able to work in a wide range of government departments and also overseas. Postings include areas such as macroeconomic modelling, competition policy and international financial issues to name a few. You’ll need a 2.1 degree in economics.

Government Operational Research Service – This area supports policy-making, strategy and operations by applying scientific methods to management problems. You’ll use your skills in modelling and analysis to work with policy makers. As an analyst, you will have a wide range of departments to work in, some of which include Cabinet Office, Department for Education and HM Revenue and Customs. You’ll need a 2.1 degree in a numerate subject.

Government Social Research Service – This scheme is based at the heart of government where you will ensure ministers and policy makers have the data to understand social issues. You’ll provide the government with reliable, relevant and timely social research and will work across a wide range of government departments. You’ll need a 2.1 in social science.

Government Statistical Service – This scheme helps you to develop your skills in collecting, analysing and publishing of statistics in order to help politicians in making decisions. Beginning as an assistant statistician you will remain in the development scheme for 4 years working on a variety of projects, such as evaluating and monitoring national statistics or developing statistical tools for future data collection. You’ll need a 2.1 in a numerate subject.