Below you will find information about the civil service fast stream assessment centre. Every part of the process tests you against the competencies. 

Civil Service Assessment Centre Competencies

The Civil Service Fast Stream Assessment Centre takes place in London. Across all activities the Civil Service looks for particular competencies. The competencies for the Civil Service assessment centre are:

  • Seeing the big picture – Focusing your contribution on the activities in order to meet the Civil Service goals.
  • Changing and improving – Being open to change and being able to suggest areas where you think that the company will grow.
  • Making effective decisions – Being objective and showing clarity of thought making reasoned choices and decisions.
  • Leading and communicating – Showing that you can lead from the front with the ability to explain things to the other team members.
  • Collaborating and partnering – Being able to work with any person you encounter with the goal of improving and doing the best job possible.
  • Building capacity for all – Striving to improve your skill set.
  • Managing a quality service – Reacting to the needs of the customer, even if this means going outside your comfort zone.
  • Delivering at pace – Timely delivery whilst taking responsibility and accountability for the delivery of high quality results.
  • Achieving commercial outcomes – Showing a long term focus, ensuring that service is given and you are working towards economic growth.
  • Delivering value for money – Being able to make decisions based on the research where value for money is at the forefront of your decisions.

These competencies will be assessed throughout the assessment day. It is, therefore, imperative to try and incorporate them into your actions and ensure that you have full knowledge of them. Doing so puts you in good position to do well throughout this full day assessment centre.

Fast Track Group Exercise

This group exercise is an assigned group exercise. This means that each candidate is given a unique role in the group exercise. You are given a brief that pertains to a particular government objective. There are a few different proposals available and you are given one of these to represent. For example, you may be given the scenario where there is a problem in a particular area of flooding. There are four proposals available including the construction of a flood defence wall and building a dam. You are given details of cost, time to complete the project and other important details of the potential project. You have 30 minutes to read through your brief and come up with a plan of action detailing the strengths of your proposal over the others. You then have to argue your case with the other members of the group for 15 minutes.

In this group exercise you have to demonstrate that you make effective decisions, work collaboratively, show leadership, communicate effectively and deliver value for money. 

Civil Service Written Exercise

In this exercise you are given a brief that presents a specific problem or desire of the UK Government. There are two possible projects that you have to decide which of them is deserving of the funding you have available. You have to create a balanced assessment of the project you choose and a reason why this is the best choice. Particularly relevant for this task is the competency of “value for money”. You must demonstrate a full understanding of the subject providing a detailed analysis of the points in question. You can use the figures available to your advantage by creating percentages of different aspects of the potential project.

As well as writing this report, you also need to write a letter to a stakeholder, trying to convince them to go with your recommendation. It is suggested that you use the last 15 minutes of the 105 minutes total time that you are given to write this letter. In order to write in the correct fashion you need to be able to construct your writing in the correct way with an introduction, main section detailing the vital points of your analysis, and a conclusion where you summarise what you have written.

Leadership Exercise/Case Study and Role Play

In this 30 minute exercise you are given a brief pertaining to a particular project that you are expected to lead. You are given approximately 20 minutes to read through the brief and prepare an oral presentation of sorts to the assessor. By this we mean that you are going to enter a discussion whereby you present your opinion explaining how you are going to lead the team and the various issues that you expect to come up. After this question and answer session with the assessor who plays the role of a senior manager you will be asked to complete a short self-review form. This exercise is designed to test you against the competency “building capacity for all”. 

Civil Service Interview

The final assessment at the Civil Service Fast Track assessment centre is the interview. This is a one-to-one competency based interview and should last about 40 minutes. Ahead of your interview, you are advised to think of examples of how you have demonstrated the competencies the Civil Service looks for, in particular your ability to build productive relationships and your ability to learn and develop.

Some Civil Service interview questions include:

  • When have you worked under pressure?
  • How do you motivate yourself?
  • Tell me about a time when you showed integrity.
  • How have you faced adversity and showed objectivity?
  • When have you had to adapt to a difficult situation?
  • Tell me about a time you showed leadership skills.
  • Tell me about a time you have had to learn new skills.
  • Tell me about a time you have achieved the desired result.
  • Can you tell me about a time when you shown value for money?

This interview is conducted by a trained Civil Service assessor and they will try their best to put you at ease whilst at the same time coaxing the best information out of you. From your end, make sure that you have fully understood the job specifications and what you are actually applying for. There will be questions regarding each of the key competencies that we listed above so make sure you are fully acquainted with them and have examples attesting to your previous usage of them. When answering these questions, it is best to do so in the STAR method as this gives a full picture of your skills in the best possible light.

The best way to prepare for the Civil Service interview is to actually have one. You can do this with a helpful friend but there is a serious flaw in this method as first of all you may not get the correct questions asked and secondly you will not receive expert feedback that is necessary in order to improve your performance. 

Start Practising For Success

The Civil Service Fast Stream is your fast track to the Civil Service. As we have seen, there are many different stages to the Civil Service recruitment process, each assessing you against a specific set of skills and in a variety of ways. Preparation is key to progressing through the stages, and with our help at JobTestPrep you can be assured that you are performing to your best.

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