The Government Statistical Service provides the UK government with statistical information, including national statistics, other statistics, analysis, interpretation, and advice to support decision making.

GSS recruitment includes two tracks for graduates: the Assistant Statistician route, which is part of the Civil Service Fast Stream, and the Statistical Officer, which is the GSS’s own recruitment track.

GSS Recruitment Process

Candidates applying for the Assistant Statistician route will experience a recruitment process that has elements from both Fast Stream recruitment and Statistical Officer recruitment. In this article we guide you through this process and highlight resources available for you to prepare at each stage of this competitive process.

Core Competencies

Applicants for Assistant Statistician positions have to demonstrate their performance against two sets of competencies: one for the Government Statistical Service, and the second for the Civil Service as a whole. You are tested on these competencies again and again throughout the recruitment process.

The Civil Service Competencies are:

  • Seeing the big picture
  • Changing and improving
  • Making effective decisions
  • Leading and communicating
  • Collaborating and partnering
  • Building capability for all
  • Managing a quality service
  • Delivery at pace
  • Delivering value for money
  • Achieving commercial outcomes

Registration and Selection of Fast Stream Schemes

The first stage of the application process is to register your intention to apply to both the GSS and the fast stream recruitment. Once you have done this, you will begin the recruitment process in earnest.

Online Cubiks Tests

The first real stage of the recruitment process is two online reasoning tests. Both tests are provided by Cubiks. Practising for the tests is crucial as you must do well in them to progress to the next stage.

Numerical Reasoning Test

The numerical reasoning test examines how well you understand numerical information presented in a graph, table, or chart. There are several questions to answer on each piece of information, and the test is multiple choice. The test is time limited, with 20 questions to answer in 25 minutes. Many questions require several stages of working out to get to the correct answer. Practising before taking the test itself speeds up your workings out, and ensures that you are quicker and more accurate at answering questions, thus improving your score. JobTestPrep’s Cubiks-style numerical reasoning practice tests will give you all the practice you need.

Verbal Reasoning Test

The verbal reasoning test examines your ability to comprehend, analyse, and interpret written text. Your task is to read a text, and then answer questions based on the information provided. In the Cubiks test, these questions usually ask you to determine whether the statement in question is true, false, or cannot say based on the information in the text. The test is time limited and you have 40 questions to answer in 20 minutes. Taking practice tests ahead of taking these tests online will make the process easier, and increase the probability you will get a good score. JobTestPrep have developed special Cubiks-style verbal reasoning tests allowing you to be familiar with the test when you come to take it.

Application Form

The application form is your first opportunity to demonstrate your skills to the recruiters. In the application form you are expected to describe your knowledge and experience against some statistical skills, including: analysis of variance, index numbers, regression, multivariative techniques, time series, generalised linear model, data collection, and sampling. You should use examples in your responses, using the STAR method (situation, task, activity and response) to organise your answers.

The GSS competencies to bear in mind throughout the application form are:

  • An understanding of data collection
  • An understanding of data analysis
  • Ability to communicate, particularly statistical or technical ideas
  • Teamworking skills
  • Personal effectiveness
  • Ability to deliver results


The application form contains questions about your education, in particular about the statistical content in your degree course, and the proportion of your degree it constituted.

You are also asked to write 250 words against four more general competencies:

  • Dissemination - express statistical or complex technical ideas effectively, either orally, in writing, or both, with sensitivity and respect for others.
  • Collaborating and partnering - working within a team to achieve an end goal.
  • Making effective decisions - being able to make a decision and understanding the wider impact of your decision.
  • Managing a quality service - working to deadlines to meet the need of the customer/ supervisor.

Don’t forget to plan your answers in advance before you can put them on the application form. Check them over before submitting for any spelling or grammar errors.

GSS Statistical Assessment Centre

In order to be invited to the statistical assessment centre, you must impress in both the online tests and the application form. This assessment centre is run by the GSS, and is also part of the recruitment process for statistics officers. This assessment centre is a half day exercise, with two main tasks.


The interview is your first opportunity to meet a member of the GSS recruitment team face to face, and will last approximately 45 minutes. The purpose of this interview is for GSS to assess your suitability for the requirements of the role. Preparation is key for this interview, and there are several layers to your preparation. First, research the GSS and the work that they do. Then, review the answers you filled in on your application form. Prepare new examples to give over in the interview. And finally, put all the preparation together and practise answering interview questions. JobTestPrep’s interview pack can give you all the preparation you need.

Written Test

The written test is a statistical written exercise lasting 90 minutes. The exercises test your ability to use your statistical knowledge in other formats. There are three parts to this exercise.

  • Multiple choice questions on statistical concepts and techniques - you are being tested on your numeracy and your knowledge of basic statistical concepts and techniques.
  • A question on the design and conduct of a sample survey - in this test you are asked to apply survey methodology to a hypothetical situation which will be used to inform government policy making. In this exercise GSS are testing your knowledge of the main requirements for a sample survey.
  • Drafting a short article based on some statistical material - here you are given some statistical source material and tasked with writing a short article explaining the main statistical features to a non-technical audience. This exercise tests your ability to identify the key features of the material, and describe them clearly and logically to an audience with no statistical background.

As well as the technical elements of the exercise, you are being asked to communicate information in a range of different styles. Preparing your written approach in advance will save you time in the test, and increase your confidence in your answers. See how JobTestPrep’s written exercises pages can help you.