Prepare for Civil Service Hiring Process & Tests









Prepare for Your Civil Service Job with JobTestPrep

Let JobTestPrep help you get ready for the Civil Service hiring process with information about competenciesonline practice tests, assessment centre exercises and interview advice.

Civil Service Hiring Programs 

There are various Civil Service employment tracks available, including the following:

Each of these employment tracks includes hiring processes that may differ from one to the next. See below for more information.

Civil Service Competency Framework

You are expected to demonstrate the skills outlined in the Civil Service Competency Framework throughout every stage of the recruitment process. The headlines of this framework are set out below:

Strategic Approach to Objectives Analysis and Decision Making Building Productive Relationships and Developing Capability Leading and Communicating
Seeing the big picture Making effective decisions Collaborating and partnering  
Changing and improving Achieving commercial outcomes Building capability for all  
  Delivering value for money    

Civil Service Application Form

Civil Service jobs usually require you to complete a full application form. This application form contains checks that determine if your education and work experience meet the criteria for this position. The application form also contains a Civil Service competency questionnaire that requires you to provide examples of where you have displayed the qualities outlined in the Civil Service Competency Framework. You are allocated just 200 words per answer, so plan them out using the STAR method and make sure that every word counts. It is important to use the same wording contained in the job description.

Direct Placement and Professional Hires

Civil Service offers the possibility of being hired directly, once the candidate has passed the initial tests. When going through the hiring process, you may be asked to sit one or more of the following tests, in addition to application forms, competency evidence and interviews:

  • Verbal reasoning test
  • Numerical reasoning test
  • Situational judgement test
  • Civil Service Initial Sift Test (CSIST)

For information about these tests, read on below.

Civil Service Fast Stream for Graduates

One of the most common methods of joining the Civil Service is through their graduate scheme—Civil Service Fast Stream. The hiring process includes the following:

Online Tests

You will be required to sit Fast Stream online tests, keeping in mind the above competencies:

Assessment Centre

As part of the recruitment process, you will likely be asked to complete one or more of the following Fast Stream assessment centre tasks:

  • Group task
  • Analysis exercise
  • Leadership exercise

For information about these tests and assessments, read on below.

Government Actuary Department (GAD) Trainee Programme

This highly competitive programme is the method used for candidates to secure a job with the Government Actuary Department (GAD). This program involves a rigorous application process:

Online Aptitude Tests

  • Numerical reasoning test
  • Verbal reasoning test

Assessment Centre

  • Written exercise
  • Interview

For more information about these aptitude tests and assessments, see the sections below. 

Fast Track Apprenticeship Programme

To apply for a Civil Service Fast Track Apprenticeship Programme, you must go through the following application process:

Online Tests

  • Verbal reasoning test
  • Numerical reasoning tests
  • Situational judgement test (SJT)
  • Competency questionnaire

Assessment Centre

  • Group task
  • Written task
  • Interview

Read on below for more information about the Civil Service Fast Track hiring process.

Probation Qualification Framework Programme (PQF)

The Probation Qualification Framework Programme (PQF) is the Probation Service’s graduate scheme. Throughout the 15 months of the PQF programme you will work for your Graduate Diploma in community justice. The following is the hiring process for this scheme:

Online Tests

  • Situational judgement test (SJT)
  • Verbal reasoning test

Assessment Centre

  • Group exercise
  • Written exercise
  • Interview

Read on for more information about the PQF hiring process.

UK Border Force

The UK Border Police hiring process is lengthy and consists of several elements. The following are the assessments you may be required to pass, depending on which job you are seeking:

Online Tests

  • Initial Sift Test (CSIST)
  • Verbal reasoning test
  • Numerical reasoning test
  • Checking test

Assessment Centre

  • Role-play exercise
  • Written exercise
  • Interview

For more information about the UK Border Police hiring process, read on below.

Civil Service Online Tests

It is very likely you will be asked to sit Civil Service online aptitude tests. Across the various Civil Service recruitment processes, you may find yourself invited to take tests from any one of a number of different testing companies: CEB’s SHL, Saville Consulting, Pearson TalentLens, etc.

See below for some examples of on tests and assessments:

Civil Service Numerical Reasoning Test

Numerical reasoning tests assess how well you understand and use information in a numerical format. You are usually given numerical information and asked to choose the correct answer from a set of multiple-choice options. In order to answer these questions, you often have to perform one or more calculations—percentages, ratios, basic maths—within a tight time limit. Taking practice tests improves speed and accuracy, which will ultimately improve your score.

Civil Service Verbal Reasoning Test

Verbal reasoning tests examine how well you use language, usually through a passage of text and corresponding questions. There are usually two types of questions on these tests: multiple choice and true/false/cannot say. This same format can be used for both comprehension and analytical tests.

Civil Service Situational Judgement Test

Situational judgement tests examine how you respond to work-based situations. You are given a scenario similar to the one you would expect in your day-to-day job and asked to choose the best response from a set of options. Preparation for such tests involves reviewing and applying the Civil Service competencies and person specification for the specific job to which you have applied. Practising for situational judgement tests can also help you get a feel for answering these types of questions.

Civil Service Initial Sift Test

This Civil Service Initial Sift Test (CSIST) is an online situational judgement test (SJT) that is designed to assess you against the behaviours included in the Civil Service Competency Framework. Employers use both this test and your application form to determine if you will be moved to the next stage of the application process. Learn more about this test on our CSIST page.

Civil Service Personality Test

A personality test determines if your personality matches the company values and job requirements. These tests usually require you to pick the characteristic that best describes you from three options. The aim is to answer truthfully; there are no right or wrong answers. Taking practice personality tests ensures you understand what the testers want and that you are able to answer each question accurately.

Civil Service Behavioral Test

The Civil Service behavioural test is a type of personality test that assesses your strengths and weaknesses, behaviour and work skills. This test helps in determining whether you are a good fit for the Civil Service.

e-tray Test

The e-tray test is used to determine how well you can cope with real-life scenarios by offering scenarios and possible responses, which you will rate according to most and least likely.

Checking Test

The checking test looks at your speed and accuracy when finding errors in numerical data and written material. Quick reading and good analyzing skills are essential for this test.

Video Interview

Recorded on a video platform, the video interview is conducted when you are ready for it. It lasts for about 20 minutes and consists of eight questions.

Civil Service Assessment Centre Exercises

The recruitment process for certain positions also includes attending an assessment centre. The assessment centre contains a series of exercises designed to examine if you possess the skills needed for your desired job. Exercises are usually themed to the type of position for which you are applying and they will always assess you against the Civil Service Competency Framework.

Written Exercise

These exercises often involve tasks in which you are given a set of information to absorb before writing a report, brief, or response. This exercise usually involves a strict time limit, so one of the key skills measured is time management. The task may also ask you to analyse numerical or verbal information in order to provide your recommendations. This assessment also looks at your writing style.

Aptitude Test

Some recruitment processes may ask you to sit some aptitude tests or verify the results of earlier tests during the assessment centre. See the section on psychometric tests above for more information.


For this assessment, you are either sent a topic to research and prepare a presentation for ahead of your assessment centre, or given materials on the day to prepare a short presentation. You will deliver this presentation at the assessment centre in any case. Learn how to deliver a great presentation with our assessment centre pack. 

Role Play

Role plays often concentrate on how you respond to work-based situations, such as working with customers or team members. You assume the role given to you and an interviewer plays the role opposite you. In addition to work-specific competencies, this type of exercise judges your assertiveness, responsiveness and flexibility. Rehearse with our role play preparation pack.

Group Activity

These activities include group discussions, debates and role-plays. They can be team-building exercises or tasks whereby every member of the group must present a different viewpoint. Your team-working skills are assessed alongside the quality of your contributions and how you listen to others. Devise your group exercise strategies with our group exercise preparation pack.

Analysis Task

You are presented with a file of papers which provide information about two mock proposals which are each being trialled. This written exercise contains two tasks: Your first task is to analyse the topics and their results, make a recommendation and explain your reasons for it. The second task is to make a conclusion using the numerical data in the papers and to identify trends.

Leadership Exercise

This role-play-type exercise assesses your leadership skills. You are asked to brief your assessor on how you plan to take on the role of team leader and handle the various issues that are presented to you. You are asked to complete a short self-review form after the exercise.

Civil Service Interview

No Civil Service recruitment process is complete without at least one interview. The interview takes place at the assessment centre or on another subsequent day. Civil Service interviews are usually panel interviews, with two or more interviewers asking you questions. The questions are designed to assess your experience and skills against the Civil Service Competency Framework.

Ahead of your interview, prepare examples from past jobs that can be used to answer competency-based questions. Read up on the department to which you are applying, its values and the description of the job opening. That way you'll know exactly what the department is looking for in a candidate.

Prepare for a Job with Civil Service

Navigating the process to get a position with the Civil Service is challenging. Recruitment to any Civil Service position, at any level, involves a series of stages. The number of stages and assessments may vary, but we offer information and quality preparation materials to help you get ready for each one. Prepare with JobTestPrep to ensure your success. 

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