Civil Service Initial Sift

How To Prepare For The Civil Service Initial Sift Test? – A Study Guide with Practice Questions

Last Updated on September 3, 2022

All candidates who are interested in a civil service job in the UK will be required to complete the Civil Service Initial test. The UK government requires this assessment to ensure that candidates hired in civil service jobs have the necessary skills and knowledge to complete the job correctly.

Even though this might feel a bit overwhelming at first, it is essential to remember as long as you are prepared to put in the time and effort, you will be ready to take on this assessment.

So whether you are you have a Civil Service Initial Sift test coming up, or you are still considering a career in civil service. You need to know a few things about the assessment beforehand.

Luckily, everything that you need to know about the Civil Service Tests and practice test. Including the types of tests, how to apply for the assessment, a few tips to help you prepare for the test, and more.

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About Civil Service Initial Sift Test and Practice Tests

The Civil Service Initial Sift test (CSIST) is also commonly referred to as Sift. The Civil Service Initial Sift test, is a situational judgement test that asses. This assessment aims to determine if a candidate has the minimum relevant competencies required for the role that they are applying for.

This assessment is used as one of multiple civil service aptitude tests in certain circumstances. On the other hand, the assessment can be used by itself during the application process.

This test is used to assess the three different levels in civil service positions. Each level usually has a different number of questions that the candidate will be required to answer in the specific time limit for the level.

The Civil Service Initial Sift test includes scenarios that a candidate can expect to experience in the role they are applying for. The candidate will be required to respond to these specific scenarios in the way they would if they were successfully hired for the position.

This online assessment consists of three different types of tests. The first types include a workstyle questionnaire. This will focus on your characters and how you will respond to work-related scenarios. The next type of test included in this assessment is the civil service situational judgement test.

The final section of the assessment will be the civil service numerical reasoning test. However, this will depend on the role that you are applying for.

While there are other civil service tests used to assess situational judgement tests that can be used in the UK to test if a candidate has the requirements for a specific civil position. However, the Civil Service Sift test is commonly used because it is based on the Civil Service Competency Framework.

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UK Civil Service

Levels of Civil Service Initial Sift Tests

There are three levels of the Civil Service Initial Sift tests, and each of these focuses on different levels of civil service jobs. Each level will have its situation and questions that apply to the specific level and job that the candidate is applying for. These levels also relate to the Civil Service Contempency Framework.

The different levels included in the Civil Service Initial Sift Tests include:

Level 1

The level 1 CSIST is the civil service assessment for candidates who are interested in administrative assistant and administrative officers roles in the UK civil service.

Level 2

The level 2 CSIST is the civil service assessment required for candidates who are interested in applying for executive officer positions in the UK civil service.

Level 3

The level 3 CSIT is the civil service assessment that candidates that are interested in UK civil services roles fall into the higher executive officer and senior executive officer positions.

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Civil Service Competency Framework

The Civil Service Competency Framework outlines what is expected of civil service workers. This framework focuses explicitly on how they are expected to work in the role that they are applying for.

While all civil service jobs will require different skills, the framework emphasises that anyone working in the civil service needs to have a common goal: to put in their efforts and work towards supporting the UK Government.

As mentioned above, the Sifts tests align with the Civil Service Competency Framework and the competencies in this framework. This is why it is essential for candidates who have an upcoming civil service sift test to understand the core values included in this framework.

There are ten core competencies included in the Civil Service Competency Framework. The competencies include an individual’s behaviour, knowledge and skill. Which is what results in successful job performance. These competencies are divided unto three sections, including:

1. Set Direction

(Contempenices: Identifying the big picture, Changing and Improving, Making effective decisions.)

Setting direction belongs in the strategic cluster of the Civil Service Competency Framework. This competency focuses on the candidate’s ability to being able to see the big picture of their role. The candidate will need to work towards changing and improving society. To successfully achieve this goal, the candidate will have decision-making skills.

2. Engage People

(Contempenices: Leading and Communicating, Collaborating and partnering, Building for all.)

Engaging people belong in the people cluster of the Civil Service Competency Framework. The main focus of this competency is for candidates to have the skills to be able to lead and communicate. Candidates who have these skills will be able to collaborate and thrive working in teams.

An essential goal for candidates will be to build capabilities for all, which understand the importance of continuously learning.

3. Produce Results

(Contempenices: Achieving commercial outcomes, Delivering value for money, Managing a quality service, Delivering at Pace.)

Producing and delivering results belongs in the performance cluster of the Civil Service Competency Framework. Candidates will need go to achieve commercial outcomes, which are about focusing on long-term economic activities. Candidates applying for this role relevant to this cluster will need to know effectively use taxpayers’ money.

Managing a quality service is about understanding and delivering the needs of their customers. Delivering at a pace focuses on timely producing results and taking accountability for outcomes.

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Civil Service Initial Sift Test Results

Candidates’ test results are determined by calculating their responses to the multiple-choice questions. Unlike most assessments, which will have a minimum score that candidates will need to achieve, candidates will usually be aware of this score.

However, pass marks are calculated based on the group’s percentile with the Sift test. Your score is calculated by comparing it to the representative group score.

It is also important to remember that even though you may meet the minimum requirement for the test results, this does not mean you will pass through to the interview stage of the application process. Although if you have passed, this score will be kept for the next six months, and you will be allowed to apply for other civil service vacancies.

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Civil Service Initial Sift Test Assessment Steps

If this is your first time applying for a UK civil service job, then you might find the recruitment process quite long. Usually, for any civil service role, there are around four steps that the candidate will have to go through, and if they complete all the steps, this candidate will be hired. The four steps included in this process consist of:

Step 1: Online test

The first step for any role in the civil service sector in the UK will be required to complete and pass the CSIST. The civil service online tests consist of situational judgement tests and a workstyle questionnaire. Usually, candidates will have a maximum of 5 days to complete the work-based scenarios section of the civil service online tests.

At the same time, the situational judgement questions will need to be completed during the time limit of the assessment.

Step 2: Video Interview

After the candidate passes the online section of this recruitment process, they will move on to step 2, which is the civil service video interview section, unlike a regular interviewer, which includes the interviewer and interviewee. A video interview simply involves the interviewee will be recording themselves answering a preset of questions honestly.

These questions will be relevant to the position that you are applying for. There may also be questions that focus on identifying specific personality skills and competencies that will be required for the position. Candidates usually have a maximum of 5 days to complete the video interview section of the recruitment process.

Step 3: Civil Service Assessment Centre

If you have been successful in the steps above, you will then be required to visit the assessment centre. However, the assessment centre has been moved online, and this portion of the application process is now completed virtually.

The Civil Service Fast Stream Assessment Centre will include three different scenarios that candidates must complete. This includes a written scenario, a team scenario, and a leadership scenario.

Step 4: Final Selection Board

Once candidates complete the Civil Service Fast Stream Assessment Centre portion. This means that they have made it through to the final step of the civil service application process. However, not all civil service rolls will require a final selection board. This includes civil service roles such as digital data, human resources, etc.

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Types of Questions Asked in the Civil Service Initial Sift Test

Usually, each civil service online test includes three different sections. In each of these sections, different types of questions relating to the role that the candidate is applying for will be asked. However, all the online civil service test questions will be multiple-choice questions.

What’s great about this is that you do not have to worry about writing extended answers to questions. All you have to do is read the question and select the accurate answer, making it much easier to stick to the time limit.

Types of Questions Asked in Different Sections of the Civil Service Online Tests:

Civil Service Work-Based Scenarios

The Civil Service work-based scenarios section of the online test focuses on the candidate’s personality traits and how the candidate will respond to situations in the workplace. In this assessment, the candidate will be given work-based scenarios, and they will have to answer to what scale they agree or disagree with the scenario.

While these questions mainly focus on the candidate’s character, they will also differ depending on the role that you are applying for. This is because different roles will require different personality traits.

Civil Service Situational Judgement Tests

The Civil Service Situational Judgement Tests focus on the candidate’s relationship-building skills and the candidate’s thought process when it comes to making decisions and making judgements.

There will be two situational judgement tests. Each will include 12 multiple-choice questions. The first test will focus on decision marking questions. At the same time, the second test will focus on your problem-solving skills. In this section, the candidate will be given a few details about the workplace, and they will need to select the best answer of how they would resolve this problem.

Civil Service Numerical Reasoning Tests

The Civil Service Numerical Reasoning Tests is one of the sections that will not be a requirement for all candidates applying for a civil service position. Usually, the numerical reasoning assessments will only be a requirement for roles that mathematics plays quite a large part.

Cubiks compile the Civil Service Numerical Reasoning section of the assessment. One of the best ways to prepare for this test portion is to complete Cubiks practice tests. While these questions are multiple-choice, they can be pretty difficult. This is why it is essential to ensure you are fully prepared for this section.

This section of the test focuses on the candidate’s abilities to conduct an analysis and interpretation of data.

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Tips to Prepare for the Civil Service Initial Sift Test

1. Read Over the Civil Service Initial Sift Test Guide

Before you kick off your study preparations for your upcoming Civil Service Initial Sift test, make sure to go over the test guidelines for your specific test. The test guidelines will provide you with all the information that you need to know about the assessment.

Some of the information included in the test guide discusses information like the test’s structure, the test’s time limit, and information about feedback from tests. Candidates may also find information about who specifically they need to contact should they have a problem beforehand.

When it comes to the Sift test, the information provided in the guide for your specific assessment is crucial.

2. Study the Civil Service Competency Framework

Another must-do step before completing the Civil Service Initial Sift test is to go over the Civil Service Competency Framework. This framework plays quite a significant role in the assessment. This is why you must be aware of the core competencies required for the position you are interested in.

However, not only should you be aware of these competencies, it is essential to make sure that you have a better understanding of the framework as a whole. Including the core values and competencies that are specifically relevant to the position that you are applying for.

3. Research Sample Questions

One of the best ways to make sure that you are feeling fully prepared for any assessment is to read over sample questions. The reason for this is that after reading over these sample questions, you will start to understand the style of the question that will be asked.

This means that when you are asked similar questions in the assessment, you will not be shocked or confused because you have already seen this question style.

However, it can be pretty tricky to find sample questions for all Sift test roles in the civil service sector. In this situation, the best thing that you can do is use the question asked in practice tests as sample questions.

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4. Complete Practice Tests Practice Questions

When it comes to preparing for any test, the best way to prepare is to complete practice questions. Completing practice tests allows you to expose yourself to the types of questions you will ask during the assessment. This will help you feel much more prepared when taking the test because you will be familiar with these types of questions.

Completing practice tests will also give you a better idea of how much you need to improve before you complete your official exam. Always makes sure to work out accurate test results for practice questions. Another benefit of completing practice tests before you assess is that it allows you to learn how to manage your time effectively before the assessment.

If you are applying for a role that requires you to complete the Civil Service Numerical Reasoning test, you must complete the practice questions on Cubiks. After all, the last thing you want to experience is being supposed with quite tricky maths questions. This is why finishing a few practice tests on Cubiks will help you feel much more prepared specifically for this section.

5. Read Over the Job Description

While you probably had done this a few times before you applied to complete the Civil Service Initial Sift test. It is a good idea to refresh your memory about the job vacancy that you are interested in.

The job description will give you insight into what the employers are looking for in the candidates they want to hire, which is something that you need to keep in mind when answering the sections of the assessment that focus on candidates’ personality traits.

6. When in Doubt, Use Logic

During your Civil Service Initial Sift test, you might come across a question that you might not know the correct answer to. When this happens, the best thing that you can do is leave this question and continue completing the assessment.

The last thing you want to do is leave out a question or spend too much time on one question. This could make you lose out on time that you could have finished answering questions that you know the answers to.

However, once you have completed the assessment, you need to go back to this question and answer this question logically. What’s great about the Sift tests is that it is multiple choice based, which means you can simply select the answer you think is most correct.

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Where to Find Civil Service Initial Sift Test Practice

One of the most common concerns when it comes to preparing for the online Civil Service Initial Sift Test is where candidates will be able to find good practice tests. This is an extremely important concern because the last thing you want to do is complete a practice test that does not even include the types of questions you could ask during this assessment.

While there are several great test platforms to choose from when it comes to choosing which practice test to complete if you are preparing for any test, it is always best to check what the official states, and you may even find a few sample questions on their website.

Final Thoughts

Anyone whose dream job is to work in the UK civil service sector will be required to complete the Civil Service Initial Shift test. The CSIST can be pretty overwhelming once you start preparing for this assessment and complete it successfully. However, all the effort, time, and dedication you have put in will be worth it once you have been hired for your dream civil service job.

It is important to remember that it is never too early to start preparing for a CSIST. The best way to do this is by following the preparing tips above, specifically completing a few practice tests before your upcoming assessment.

Now that you have all the information that you need about the Civil Service Initial Sift Test and have an insight into what you can expect for the upcoming assessment. You will be as ready as ever to take this test. Don’t wait any longer, and start applying and preparing for your upcoming CSIST.

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