The application and interview process for Civil Service Fast Stream graduate jobs is as follows:
The interview process for Civil Service Fast Stream graduate jobs is a three stage process:
Stage one - Computer based tests
There are three sections to the first stage of the Civil Service Fast Stream assessment process. There are no interviews at this stage.
The Civil Service Fast Stream E-tray exercise lasts approximately one hour and is entirely computer based.
For the first fifteen minutes of this exercise you are given a set of documents to read. These documents may be about a new youth rehabilitation centre.
You will then have 45 minutes to answer approximately 25 emails, which will constantly appear in your in-box. You will be able to choose your response from a range of multiple choice answers, selecting which action out of four would be the most appropriate and which would be the least. Portions of this exercise may be quite ambiguous.
Email response exercise
This last section will last an hour. You will be given two questions from a line manager and these will follow on from the E-tray exercise.
The first question will ask you to prepare your line manager for an upcoming meeting with the potential questions they might face and also, how they could be answered.
The second question will ask you to think of imaginative and radical solutions to the problems associated with the E-tray proposal (i.e. the rehab centre).
Stage three - Assessment day
The third stage of the Civil Service Fast Stream interview process is a full day assessment centre.
The first exercise (although the order of events changes for different groups) was a group exercise. The group exercise starts with 30 minutes of preparation, during which you are told you represent a particular department of the Civil Service and given some literature regarding a fictional issue. Your task will be to represent your department's point of view, and make the case for it.
The actual exercise lasts approximately 45 minutes, and you have to make a decision on which factors you think are the most important and which of four projects will be the best solution to the problem. In the last 10 minutes your assessors will stop you and tell you that you have to present your case to a minister and think of responses to potential problems that may be raised over the selected solution.
There are two written exercises during the assessment day. One is quite short and only lasts 30 minutes, in which you have to judge a situation and make comments upon it.
The next written exercise lasts for approximately one and a half hours and involves a lot of reading material which includes peoples' views and statistics concerning a set of proposals. It is your job to weigh up the proposals and make a decision based on the information and stated goals. There is no right answer to this exercise. You are being assessed on how you make your case.
Candidates will have lunch (which is apparently rather tasty) and an opportunity to talk freely with other candidates and quite possibly Civil Service graduate employees currently on the Fast Track scheme.
Employees of the Civil Service must be able to analyse and evaluate huge amounts of information, in order to prepare documents such as briefs for ministers. They must have excellent communication skills, so that they may write drafts of government White Papers and excellent teamworking skills because much of the work they do will be team based. It is also important that they exhibit leadership qualities, to allow them to make key decisions and persuade other people of their point of view
At interview, candidates must demonstrate that they fulfil these key competencies that the Civil Service require of their employees. These are generally: Teamwork, Leadership, being able to analyse information, being able to plan effectively, being able to compile information and draft documents, and Decision making.
Use examples from your academic, working and extracurricular experiences to answer any questions you may be asked. For example, talking about how you successfully argued on a topic for a debating society at a university competition shows evidence of teamwork and co-operation, leadership and persuasiveness, and that you have successfully understood, analysed and re-drafted information.
Examples of specific questions candidates have been asked in the past include:
- When have you worked under pressure?
- Give me an example of when you have worked under pressure?
- How did you cope with this pressure?
- How do you motivate yourself at work?
The briefing exercise is the final part of the assessment day. This starts with candidates being given a list of three options of fictional solutions to a problem (which may involve new local/national transport schemes).
You are given very little information concerning the solutions and a list of criteria that the solutions should fill. You have to pick one of the solutions and then prepare a 5-10 minute presentation for 25 minutes.
In the final briefing you give the presentation and will then be asked questions regarding the merits of the scheme and how you would solve any problems that might arise. This is a thinking on your feet exercise. You cannot prepare for these questions.
Throughout the day you will have opportunities to fill out self-assessment sheets, which ask you to describe how well you feel you have done at each assessment stage. These are assessed. They're looking to see how well you identify your own development needs. Be honest and say what your shortcomings are and how you would go about addressing them.
For more information about graduate schemes offered by the Civil Service use the WikiJob forums.