Civil Service Fast Stream Assessment Centre: 2023 Preparation Guide
The Civil Service Fast Stream Assessment Centre is one of the most challenging stages of recruitment for the Civil Service’s popular Fast Stream graduate program.
Congratulations on making it this far!
With the right preparation, you can impress at the assessment centre to bring you another step closer to a fulfilling career in the Civil Service.
In this free Fast Stream Assessment Centre guide we will show you:
- 9 key competencies you need to demonstrate to work in the Civil Service
- 3 Fast Stream Assessment Centre exercises you’ll complete on the day (with examples)
- 3 must-know tips to pass the Fast Stream Assessment Centre with great results
You can get our top recommended Civil Service Fast Stream practice tests and exercises here.
The Civil Service Fast Stream recruitment process
Fast Stream offers successful graduates an accelerated career path to senior leadership roles in the Civil Service.
It covers a broad range of government roles including finance, parliament, social research, human resources, science and engineering, technology, project delivery and more.
Each Fast Stream program is structured over 3-5 years and guarantees a permanent job on completion. Because of this, applying for Fast Stream is a lengthy process and highly competitive.
First, you need to register for the program on the Fast Stream website.
Applications are open for four weeks only in September-October every year.
Then there are six stages in the Civil Service Fast Stream recruitment process:
- Online Tests
You will then take a situational judgement test and behavioral questionnaire. These are multiple-choice and must be completed within five days.
- Work-Based Scenarios
This stage involves an online case study and learning assessments, much like an e-tray exercise. You’ll have five days to complete them.
- Video Interview
Then you must record a video of yourself answering a series of pre-set interview questions, which will go to an assessor for evaluation.
- Sift Stage
At this stage, your experience and qualifications will be reviewed. You may be asked to complete a numeracy test depending on what you have applied for.
- Fast Stream Assessment Centre
If you are successful in all the previous stages, you’ll be invited to a Fast Stream Assessment Centre (FSAC) in London or Newcastle. We’ll cover more about this stage of the process in the rest of this article.
- Final Selection Board
If you pass the assessment day, and depending on which Fast Stream scheme you have applied for, you may then be required to attend a final interview.
Civil Service Fast Stream competencies
Throughout the Fast Stream assessment process (and especially at the assessment centre), you will be thoroughly evaluated against nine key behaviours:
- Seeing the big picture
- Changing and improving
- Making effective decisions
- Communicating and influencing
- Working together
- Developing self and others
- Managing a quality service
- Delivering at pace
Make sure you understand what these are, and more importantly, how you can demonstrate them with examples from your past experience.
We recommend that you read the Civil Service Behaviours Success Profile carefully for more information about each competency and what it involves. Note that the Fast Stream program falls under Level 3 – HEO and SEO or equivalent.
What to expect at the Civil Service Fast Stream Assessment Centre
The FSAC is a half-day event held at one of the many Fast Stream Assessment Centres in London and Newcastle from mid-October to early January.
You won’t get to choose which location you attend, but travel and accommodation costs will be covered.
The assessment day runs for about five hours and you’ll take part in three exercises:
- Group Exercise
In a small group of 4-6, everyone will receive a brief on an imaginary scenario as well as an individual brief on the position you represent. You must discuss this as a group and come to an agreement on a recommendation.
Here’s an example:
In addition to the brief, you will also receive detailed supporting materials which can include emails, videos, articles and data to help you make your decision.
- Written Analysis Exercise
You’ll be given a variety of facts, figures, financials and public opinion polls that relate to an imaginary scenario. You must analyse the information, answer a series of questions, and recommend the best way to proceed.
Here’s an example:
- Leadership Exercise
A one-on-one role play exercise where you play a Fast Streamer who has been given the responsibility of leading a project or initiative. You must review a range of documents and videos relating to the project, and meet with an assessor to discuss its progress.
Here’s an example:
Make sure you check out the latest Fast Stream official guide for full examples of each exercise, including supporting material.
Fast Stream Assessment Centre results and next steps
The pass mark and fail mark for the Fast Stream Assessment Centre are determined by all applicants’ final scores within each Fast Stream scheme.
This means that they can vary every year, and that you may need to wait up to three months for enough scores to be collected before you get your results.
The final score is out of 16, and in general, you will need to score at least 10-12 to pass successfully.
If you passed, the next step may be to attend a Final Selection Board or to skip right through to pre-appointment checks and job placement, depending on the scheme you applied for.
And if you didn’t make it this time, don’t worry! You can always apply again next year. In fact, many current Fast Streamers were successful on their second or third attempt.
You’ll receive a detailed performance report along with your score, so you can review what you did well and what you need to improve to pass the FSAC next time you apply.
Video: Fast Stream Selection Process
Check out this video from the Civil Service Fast Stream where they talk about the recruitment process, how you are evaluated, and how best to prepare…
3 pro tips to pass the Civil Service Fast Stream Assessment Centre
#1: Practice, practice, practice!
Start preparing for the FSAC as early as possible. It will give you the very best chance of success, as well as reduce the stress that comes with procrastination.
Read through your information pack carefully and take plenty of practice tests to improve your familiarity with the exercises and your performance.
You can get our recommended Civil Service Fast Stream practice tests here.
Make sure you also study the key competencies listed above, and think of examples from your university, work or internship experience that demonstrate each one.
Try and have at least two examples for each competency, but there may be things you’ve done that can cover multiple competencies from different angles.
For example, if you’ve organised or run a successful event in the past, that could demonstrate several behaviours such as managing a quality service, making effective decisions, and working together.
#2: Boost your brain power
The Fast Stream Assessment Centre is long and mentally challenging, so it’s vital that you’re in the best possible shape to face the day.
Fuel your body and mind to stay alert, focused and engaged by:
- Getting plenty of sleep
- Eating a good breakfast
- Bringing a water bottle and staying hydrated
- Moderating your caffeine intake
- Getting some sunlight and fresh air
Activities like stretching, deep breathing and meditation can also be very beneficial to help you relax and get in a good frame of mind before the event.
#3: Be positive and enjoy the day
This is the best advice we can give. You may not do as well as you’d like on every exercise at the Fast Stream Assessment Centre, and that’s okay! It’s to be expected, so try not to dwell on the negatives.
Instead, just focus on doing your best at every stage and make the most of the learning experience. Don’t worry about things that happened earlier or that might happen next.
Remember that Fast Stream is extremely competitive and you’ve done very well just to get to where you are. So try to relax and enjoy it! Even if your assessment day doesn’t go the way you hoped this time, there will always be another opportunity for you.
You’ve got this. Good luck!
Some more guides to help you succeed…
- Numerical Reasoning: Numerical Reasoning Test Guide: 5 Proven Tips to Succeed
- Verbal Reasoning: Verbal Reasoning Test: What You Need to Know to Pass
- UKCAT: UKCAT Test Guide: 4 Secrets to UKCAT Success 2020
- Watson-Glaser: Watson-Glaser Test: Everything You Need to Know to Pass
- Mechanical Comprehension: Mechanical Comprehension Test Guide 2020