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The Ultimate Guide to Acing the Civil Service Judgement Test

Positions in the Civil Service are highly sought after, and it’s no wonder why. Employees of the Civil Service are responsible for policy implementation, public administration, and legal affairs in the United Kingdom. Every job in the Civil Service is an opportunity to bring about change in society and people’s lives.

While the Civil Service hires people with a wide range of educational backgrounds and experiences, it can be difficult to navigate the recruitment process if you aren’t sure what to expect. Recruitment to any Civil Service position involves a series of stages and assessments.

One of these is the Civil Service Situational Judgement Test.

Many applicants are unsure what it is and how to prepare for it. The guide will cover every aspect you need to know about preparing for and acing the Civil Service Judgement Test.

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What is the Civil Service Judgement Test?

The Civil Service Situational Judgement Test is a test many applicants must take as part of the Civil Service application process. It assesses how candidates respond to work-based situations. Test-takers are asked questions on how they would act in any given work situation.

What is the format of the Civil Service Judgement Test?

You will be given made-up scenarios that could happen on a typical workday in the role you have applied for. You then have to indicate how you would respond by choosing the best answer from several multiple-choice options.

How to prepare for the Civil Service Situational Judgement Test

Unlike any test you have taken at school, the Civil Service Judgement Test has a unique format that you may not be used to. Therefore it is important to take a look at some practice questions in advance. The most effective way to do this is to take specifically-designed online simulation tests.

We highly recommend Job Test Prep which has extensive preparation materials for Situational Judgement Tests.

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How is the Situational Judgement test scored?

The test aims to check that you would be a good fit for the Civil Service. The skills you will be expected to demonstrate throughout the hiring process are outlined in the Civil Service Competency Framework.

This framework sets out ten competencies, which are grouped into three major areas:

  • Engaging people
  • Setting direction
  • Producing results

Some Civil Service departments now use Success Profiles, so you should check the details of the position you’re applying for to see if the hiring criteria are based on the Civil Service Competency Framework or Success Profiles.

What is the Civil Service hiring process?

Depending on the Civil Service job you’re applying for, the hiring process can occur over four sections:

  1. Completing an application
  2. Conducting online aptitude tests
  3. Attending the assessment centre
  4. Completing an interview

Completing an Application

When applying for a Civil Service job, the initial stage is to complete a full application form. This form will determine if your education and prior work experiences meet the requirements for the position you’re applying to.

It also contains a Civil Service competency questionnaire, which requires you to give examples of how you display the qualities outlined in the Civil Service Competency Framework, which we’ll discuss later in the article. Because you are only allocated 200 words per answer, you should plan them out ahead of time using the STAR method.

The application forms then go through a blind sift process, which will identify suitable applicants while avoiding any biases from occurring. Any personal details are removed from the application and are only made available when a decision has been made on who should be invited to complete an interview.

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Conducting Online Aptitude Tests

Before completing an interview, you will likely be asked to sit for an online aptitude test. There are several tests you may be asked to complete, including:

  • Civil Service Verbal Reasoning Test
  • Civil Service Numerical Reasoning Test
  • Civil Service Personality Test
  • Civil Service Situational Judgement Test
  • Civil Service Behavioural Test

Visit Job Test Prep for a full explanation of what each of these tests will assess.

Attending an Assessment Centre

Certain positions also require anyone going through the recruitment process to attend an assessment centre. Here you must complete a series of exercises to determine if you have the skills necessary for the job. These exercises are typically geared toward the type of position you’re applying for and will assess you against the Civil Service Competency Framework.

Some examples of the types of exercises are:

  • Preparing a presentation
  • Completing a written exercise
  • Participating in a group activity

Completing an Interview

Lastly, any person who passes the prior stages will be asked to complete an interview. Civil Service interviews are typically conducted by a panel with two or more interviewers asking questions. These questions will assess your skills and experience against the Civil Service Competency Framework.

Before your interview, you read about the department to which you’re applying to determine its values and what it is looking for in an employee candidate. Once you have a good idea of what the department wants, prepare examples from your past jobs or classwork that can be used to answer the competency-based questions you’ll be asked during the interview.

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Which Civil Service Hiring Programmes require a judgement test?

There are several employment tracks available to aspiring Civil Service employees, each of which involves a hiring process that may be different from the next. Some of these hiring programmes include:

Direct Placement in a Civil Service Position

Once a Civil Service candidate has passed their initial tests, there is a possibility of being hired directly. In addition to application forms and interviews, you may be asked to take a competency test such as numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, or situational judgement.

Fast Stream Programme for Graduates

Among the most common methods of joining the Civil Service is via their Civil Service Fast Stream for graduates. The hiring process for this programme typically includes completing Fast Stream online tests, Fast Stream assessment centre tasks, and a video interview.

Fast Track Apprenticeship Programme

The Civil Service Fast Track Apprenticeship Programme is another desirable employment track for those applying for a position within the Civil Service. To apply for this programme, you must sit online tests as well as complete various assessment centre tasks and an interview.

Probation Qualification Framework Programme

This employment track, referred to as the PQF, is the Probation Service’s graduate scheme. Throughout this 15-month programme, you will work for your Graduate Diploma in community justice. The hiring process for this employment track involves completing online tests, assessment centre tasks, and an interview.

Government Actuary Department Trainee Programme

The Government Actuary Department Trainee Programme is a highly competitive employment track that involves a rigorous application process. Once completed, people on this track secure a job within the Government Actuary Department. The application process for this track includes taking online aptitude tests, completing assessment centre tasks, and an interview.

UK Border Force

The hiring process for the UK Border Force is quite lengthy and typically consists of several stages depending on the job to which you’re applying. These stages include passing online tests, assessment centre tasks, and an interview.

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What Are the Qualifications Needed to Become a Civil Servant?

There are no specific requirements needed for administrative roles. However, you will need to have completed at least five GCSEs, including English or maths, as well as sit tests to demonstrate your skills.

Acing the Interview Process

Learning how to ace your interview can be one of the most stressful parts of applying for a Civil Service position. Before you attend a Civil Service interview, you’ll be provided information about the format. You may be asked to prepare a short presentation, or you’ll be given a panel interview with two or more interviewers.

The interview panel are given a list of questions that they must select from, allowing them to test the competency and strength each question assesses. Responses are typically marked out of seven for each competency and should be between four and six minutes long.

Answers should follow the STAR format. Most marks are awarded for the ‘Actions’ portion of your answers, so clearly detailing the actions you took during each situation is essential.

Follow-up questions may be asked if the competency has not been demonstrated adequately, which is why you should be sure to cover the competency fully in your initial response. Sticking to the STAR format will allow you to express your answer in a logical, systematic way.

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Final Thoughts on Preparing for a Job with Civil Service

When applying for a Civil Service position, navigating the process can be overwhelming. So, when you sit tests during the Civil Service hiring process, you should be adequately prepared ahead of time. There are many ways to prepare for these tests, such as taking practice tests, watching instructional videos, or following detailed test guidance.

Many companies offer practice tests, but make sure you are visiting a trusted source. Job Test Prep offers online practice tests with detailed explanations for what to expect during each test. Another great feature is their PrepPacks, which offer information tailored to help apply for specific roles within the Civil Service.

Recommended ReadingWhat are Situational Judgement Tests?