Civil Service Fast Stream Assessment Centre

This Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre guide includes practice tests, coaching videos and dozens of top tips, tricks and insider-secrets for success. Let’s get started!

1 useful starting-point resource

  1. You can practice the Fast Stream verbal & numerical tests here

Download our Ultimate Assessment Day & Interview Guide 2021 here. (It's packed with tips, tricks and insider-secrets to help you succeed.)

civil service fast stream assessment centre

The All-Conquering Importance of Preparation

Ok, before we look at each element of the Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre we’d like to put something squarely on your radar: the all-conquering importance of preparation.

We often get emails from people asking for help at their Fast Stream assessment centre. They want to know the ‘short cuts’ to success, but honestly, there are none. It’s boring, we know, but the ‘secret’ to success at the Fast Stream assessment centre is simply lots and lots of preparation.

You cannot over-prepare and every minute you spend preparing will pay you back richly. (If there’s one thing we’ve noticed over the years it’s that successful candidates are always better prepared than unsuccessful ones.)

‘Ok, I get the picture. How should I prepare?’

  • You can read this guide. (Well done, so far!)
  • Go through the competencies exercise below.
  • Lastly, and most importantly, you should practice the Fast Stream verbal and numerical tests.

Civil Service Fast Stream Practice Tests

You should practice the Fast Stream aptitude tests like a demon.

IMPORTANT POINT: Different employers use different test suppliers. This is very important when you’re taking practice tests as the style, content and format differs from one test supplier to another. The Fast Stream numerical and verbal tests are supplied by Cubiks and you can practise the Fast Stream Cubiks tests here.


The Assessment Centre Exercises

There’ll be a variety of activities at your Fast Stream assessment centre and, strangely, they can take place in any order.

Here’s what you’ll face:

  • Leadership Exercise
  • Written Policy Recommendation Exercise
  • Group Discussion
  • Numerical Reasoning Test
  • Verbal Reasoning Test
  • Interview & E-Tray Exercise

To be honest, the exercises are pretty standard stuff. With the right preparation there’s very little to fear here.

Internalise & demonstrate the competencies

Regardless of which exercise you’re performing at your Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre, you need to know (and ideally, demonstrate) the Fast Stream competencies.

It’s a long and slightly tedious list but bear with us – we’ll explain why this is important in a moment:

  • 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

You need to reflect this language back at your assessors, this list of disparate bullet points should become a ‘script’, of sorts, that you vocalise AND demonstrate throughout your assessment.

ACTION POINT: Spend 60 minutes reviewing this list of competencies. During this time you should do 2 things:

  1. Internalise the language and phrasing. These words need to become part of your vocabulary.
  2. Prepare examples from your past experience when you have demonstrated each of the competencies. These examples will be your secret weapon during your interview later. (We’ll discuss these more later in this article.)

civil service fast stream practice tests

The Civil Service Fast Stream Assessment Centre Exercises

Ok, we’ve covered the most important overarching points. (The importance of preparation and of embodying the competencies.) Now let’s look at each exercise of the Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre individually.

The Leadership Exercise

You will take part in a role-play with your assessor.

  • Your assessor will assume the role of a senior manager, with you acting as a team leader.
  • You will be given a brief that highlights some issues that need resolving. Your goal is simple: you need to find solutions to these issues.
  • This exercise will last a total of 30 minutes. (This includes preparation time, the role-play itself and post-task Q&A.)

In our experience, most candidates absolutely hate role-plays. But with the right preparation they can become an enjoyable showcase of your skills and a highlight of your Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre.

If you feel that you need extra help in this area you should check out our Role-Play MasterclassIt has dozens of secret tricks & top tips and includes a proven framework that you can follow to deliver a world class role-play.

The Group Discussion

This is another element of the Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre that people worry a lot about.

  • You and your fellow candidates will each be given an individual brief. You will then have 30 minutes to prepare.
  • Your objective in the discussion is to get the best result, both for you as an individual and your group.
  • The assessors will be looking at how clearly you communicate, how well you listen to others and how strongly you put your arguments forward.
  • The discussion will last for a total of 15 minutes and is an influential part of the Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre. Why? Because it shines a very bright light on your people skills.

We’ve written extensively about group exercises elsewhere on the site. You should read our free guide: “How To Succeed in Group Exercises

The Written Policy Recommendation Exercise

Ok this is an important part of the Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre. This written exercise lasts for a whopping 1 hour and 45 minutes!

There are two tasks and you must complete both in the given time.

Task 1 – You will be given information from a variety of sources, on two possible projects. Your task will be to analyse both sets of information, and to choose which project you would recommend.

Your written report should show strong, clear arguments for your recommendation as this is what you will be assessed on. (Your choice of project is less important, it is the arguments that matter most.)

Task 2 – Following on from task 1, you will need to use the information provided to convince stakeholders of your position. This task only requires 15-20 minutes.


The Fast Stream Numerical Reasoning Test

This is a standard numerical reasoning test. As explained above, it is vital in any job application that your know which test supplier your prospective employer uses. (There are big differences in test content and format from supplier to supplier.)

We always recommend these tests as the best Civil Service Fast Stream practice tests. They are Cubiks tests and they also contain full answers and explanations, so you can identify where you’re weak and strengthen in that area. They are transformative for your chances of success.

It’s important to remember the tests are timed and you are being benchmarked against the other candidates so literally every second counts. Practice, practice, practice.

We’ve written extensively about how to pass numerical reasoning tests elsewhere on the site. You should check out our free guide on how to pass numerical reasoning tests.

The Fast Stream Verbal Reasoning Test

Again, your test provider here is Cubiks and you can practice the Fast Stream Cubiks verbal reasoning tests here.

You should read our free Ultimate Guide “How To Pass Verbal Reasoning Tests” for much, much more info on how to succeed in this area.

The Interview & E-Tray

This Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre interview is 100% competency based and will last for 40 minutes.

Here’s some top tips:


Know the Fast Stream competencies inside out

This is huge. For any competency based interview it is imperative to know what criteria you are being assessed on. Take each competency in turn and deliver your examples (remember we referenced them earlier in this article?).

When delivering your examples a fabulous framework to use is the STAR method:

STAR stands for: Situation, Task, Action, Result.

  • Situation – Paint a background picture of the challenge/problem. (EG, “Our department’s sales figures were down 5% year on year”.)
  • Task – Describe why it was a big problem. (EG, “We were in danger of missing our annual target.”)
  • Action – The Great Thing you did. (EG, “I won two new clients and boosted my team’s sales by 8%”.)
  • Result – The impact of your Great Thing. (EG, “We finished the year 2% ahead of our sales target.”)

This is a brilliant way of framing your answers for maximum impact. It takes practice though, so run through your example answers again and again. Say them aloud. (Sub-vocalising them in your head doesn’t work as well, trust us!)

To be able to deliver this well at your Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre you will need to rehearse dozens of times. Again, practice makes perfect.

Showcase your skills

Give a wide variety of examples. You know what they are looking for, give them both barrels, sell yourself!

Be positive

No one wants to work with a moaner. Don’t complain about the traffic that morning, or being hot on the tube, or the weather… Or anything! Positivity is the order of the day at the Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre. Speak with enthusiasm and show hunger for your future career.

Be yourself

Remember that your assessor will be wanting to get to know the real you. You should be yourself, as if you won’t be a good fit it’s in your best interest to find out now!

Ask questions

Questions demonstrate your drive, hunger and curiosity for the role. Ask lots.

You’re almost at the end of your Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre. Hang in there.


Civil Service Fast Stream Assessment Centre E-Tray

This is a standard e-tray exercise. We’ve written in detail about how to succeed in E-Tray exercises elsewhere on the site, so head over to that article for more expert advice and guidance.

Useful resources

Thanks and good luck!

We hope you enjoyed this free guide? Good luck in your future career and at your Civil Service Fast Stream assessment centre.

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