Dstl Assessment Centre, Situational Judgement Test and Interview Preparation

Are you applying to Dstl (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory), either on the Dstl graduate scheme, apprenticeship, industrial or summer vacation placement or in any other position? If you are you will need to get through a tough recruitment process comprising a few different and varied tests and assessments. Learn about the process and gain the tips needed for success below.
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The Dstl graduate scheme recruitment process is the most detailed, consisting of more stages than any other stream and for this reason we will focus on this in the main. This does not mean however that other streams do not go through a difficult process. The main difference is in the actual number of interviews you will receive. For example, if you are applying to the Dstl graduate scheme you will have at least three separate interviews but if you are applying for an experienced hire position there will generally only be one combined competency and technical interview.

The stages of the Dstl recruitment process are:

Dstl Online Application Form

The Dstl application form is your first chance to show that you have what it takes to succeed in the job you have applied for. This application form is detailed and includes a requirement to upload your CV as well as completing some competency questions attesting to your particular skills.

Some possible questions include:

  • Please detail any clubs or groups you have been involved in, particularly positions of authority.
  • Describe a recent situation where you have to deal with deadlines that had competing priorities.
  • How do you improve your skills and knowledge through your initiative?
  • Describe a time you led a successful team.
  • Describe your strengths.
  • Why did you apply for this position?

Most of these questions have a 300 word limit, which isn’t a great amount of words to show that you are the best candidate. Therefore you have to choose your words wisely and strike a balance, not being too short and brief whilst not expanding too much as to run out of words.

Throughout the Dstl application form, both in the questions and in the CV upload, you will be assessed on the key competencies involved in the particular position that you are applying for. Therefore, make sure you really understand the key competencies and skills mentioned in the job profile. Know exactly what they mean and how you have shown each of these skills in the past. You need to be able to demonstrate this throughout your online application form in order to get to the next stage of the recruitment process. Doing this is a difficult and tricky thing to do and this is why we have created a CV creation package to give you the best possible CV with your personal skills and qualifications. As well as this, take a look at our competency questions package to give you a full understanding of how to answer the questions in the best possible way.

Dstl Telephone Interview

If you have applied to the Dstl graduate scheme or apprenticeship you will be invited to have a telephone interview. This may very well be the case for other paths of entry as well but isn’t always so. This telephone interview is a competency based interview and you will be asked about your life experiences and how they influence your decision making process. Some example questions include:

  • Why do you want to join the Dstl?
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • Tell me about a time you had to make a controversial decision.
  • Tell me about a time you led a team.

When preparing for the telephone interview it is imperative that you are fully aware of all the competencies that are required for the application. These are listed on the job description and are different for each position. You should look at each of these competencies and try to think of possible questions that you could be asked. For example, if one of the competencies is “a desire for innovation” a possible question could be: Tell me about a time you have been faced with a problem; how did you deal with it? It is best to prepare the answers in the STAR method of answering questions as this gives a complete picture, demonstrating where you have shown this skill before.

The best way to prepare for an interview is to have a mock one that will put you under similar pressure to what you will actually face in the real one. You can do this with a helpful friend or family member and they can try their best to help you prepare. However, the best way to prepare is to have one with a trained assessor who understands the psychology behind the interview and who will give you complete feedback of your performance. See our Skype interview package for more details.

Situational Judgement Test

Before you attend the Dstl assessment centre you will be asked to complete the online occupational test. This test is used to assess your job fit and is commonly known as a Situational Judgement Test or SJT for short. You will be presented with a series of situations that could occur to a person in your position in the company. There are a number of different options available to do in the situation and you have to select the best option possible. This test assesses your ability to act under pressure as well as find out if you think along the lines that are acceptable to the company. You can learn more about these skills with JobTestPrep and even practise taking an SJT.

Dstl Assessment Centre

If you are successful in the telephone interview you will be asked to attend a half day assessment centre where you will face a number of different tasks. These are detailed below.


This is similar to the telephone interview that you have already come through. In fact, many of the questions will be similar to ones you have already answered either in the application form or in the telephone interview. As long as you are fully prepared for this interview there is nothing to fear. There are many different interview preparation materials available to you here at JobTestPrep to give you the edge when you come to present yourself in the interview.

Group Exercise

In this group exercise you will be given a brief about a relevant defence subject. There are assumptions mixed with fact in the brief and you have to discern a path forward. Together with the other group members you have to come up with a thought out conclusion. The most important focus during this activity isn’t on the actual final product that you come up with but how you present yourself during the activity. You have to show that you can be a leader without being overbearing. As well as this you have to demonstrate the key competencies required for the position you are applying for. See our group exercise package for more detail on the decisions you should be making during this exercise.

Written Exercise

In this exercise you are given a brief that contains several documents packed with information. It is your task in this 45 minute exercise to write a report presenting the information to a group. You are given a laptop to complete this written exercise so make sure that you can type at a good tempo. The conclusion of your discussion isn’t a matter of huge importance as long as it is well thought out. What you need to do is write a complete report with an introduction, main argument and conclusion in the correct form. Prepare for this assessment with our written exercises preparation pack including tips and directions on how to approach this task.

Technical Interview

For many Dstl graduate schemes after a successful assessment centre you will be invited back to have a technical interview. In it you are asked to discuss a project that you completed in your final year of university. You have to describe this project and the experiences you went through relating to it; the difficulties and successes you had during it. As well as this, you are presented with a business situation and you have to demonstrate how you would deal with it.

In Summary

Joining Dstl, particularly on their graduate schemes has a certain charm to it as it is by definition a secretive organisation. There are many more applicants than the approximately 250 places available so in order to ensure you perform to your highest level you need to prepare for it. This article has guided you through this process and pointed you in the right direction. We hope you have enjoyed this article and look forward to helping you out in the near future. Good luck!

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