How to Prepare for the UK Civil Service Work Strengths Test?
If you are interested in pursuing a career in the UK civil service sector, then you have come to the right place.
In this article, we cover the UK civil service application process, online tests, preparation tips, and the assessment centre.
Table of Contents
What is the Civil Service?
The UK Civil Service sector forms an integral part of the UK government. The sector consists of several departments that handle pension schemes, prison systems, NHS data, driving licenses, and benefits.
The Civil Service plays a huge role in the UK’s infrastructure and public services. The country’s systems would be dysfunctional without the civil service sector.
That is why the Civil Service only hires the best in their recruitment process. Civil Service workers need to have the cognitive ability and skills to successfully perform the job. But they also need to comply with the civil service’s ethics and framework.
The Civil Service online tests aim to assess these characteristics.
The Civil Service looks for four core values in candidates. Namely integrity, honesty, impartiality, and objectivity.
Apart from these four core values, the Civil Service also looks for candidates who display an understanding of the following core competencies:
- Clear vision and ideas
- Adapting and enhancing
- Capability of making effective and influential decisions
- Seeing things as a whole.
What is the Civil Service Work Strengths Test?
The Civil Service Work Strengths Test is an online test that evaluates your strengths. This includes what you do on a daily basis, what you perform well, and what drives you. The test has two different versions.
You will be required to take one of them depending on the job level you have applied for. Strengths are organised in pairs during the test to ensure maximum coverage.
Strengths form one of the five aspects in the Success Profiles Framework. The Civil Service makes use of Success Profiles to enable flexible recruiting. This increases the chances of finding the perfect candidate for the job.
Problem solver, team leader, adaptable, influencer, and organiser are some of the strengths assessed in the test for positions ranging from Grade 6 to Higher Executive Officer.
The Civil Service Work Strengths Test consists of three sections.
In the first section, you will be questioned about your work preferences and typical work behaviour. Then you will be required to rate each statement according to your level of agreement or disagreement.
In the second section, you will be presented with ten different workplace situations and a range of possible actions. You need to carefully read the situation and then provide the effectiveness rating for each scenario.
There are four answer options: effective, fairly effective, ineffective, and counterproductive. You can apply the same effectiveness rating to more than one action.
The third section is almost like the second section. But you will be stating which of the four actions you are most likely to take and which you are least likely to take. You will be presented with five different scenarios.
The test does not have a time limit, but people generally take two to four minutes to answer one scenario.
You will find example questions at the beginning of the test. You don’t need to have expert knowledge or experience to take the Civil Service Work Strengths Test.
- Once you are invited to take the test, you should do it as soon as possible. This will give you time to fix any technical or access issues before the deadline. All help requests need to be submitted at least two working days before the deadline.
- Take the test in a quiet place free of distractions and noise.
- Read through the test instructions properly.
- Try and answer every question on the test.
- Ensure you have a stable internet connection during the duration of the test.
- Take the UK government’s Civil Service Work Strengths Practice Test.
Your score depends on your responses on the test. It will be compared to a representative group of applicants who have also completed the test.
You will receive your score as a percentile, which reflects how well you performed according to the group. For example, if your percentile is 55, that means you scored better than 55% of the group. Civil Service jobs are advertised at a specific level. You will receive a message if you pass the test at the minimum score required for that job level.
After the test deadline, the recruiter will examine all the applicant scores to decide what the job’s pass mark will be set at. You will be notified if the employer decides to increase the pass rate for a job.
Civil Service Online Tests
The Civil Service online assessments are commonly used tests that are used to assess whether you are a good candidate for the job you are applying for.
Several online tests that you may be asked to take during your application process are available. These include a verbal test, a numerical test, a situational judgement test, a customer service test, a casework skills test, and a management judgement test.
The Civil Service Verbal Test
The Civil Service Verbal Test, or the verbal reasoning test, is a very basic verbal reasoning assessment. You will be required to answer forty multiple-choice test questions with answer options of false, true, or I cannot say. The Civil Service verbal test has a twenty minute time limit.
In the verbal reasoning test, you will be presented with long passages of text that you need to read through. Then you will need to answer the three or four questions that follow. Your answers must not be assumptions. They need to be based only on the information provided in the passage.
The aim of the Civil Service verbal reasoning test is to evaluate your ability to follow written instructions and your English language skills. The verbal test assesses your ability to identify key facts and draw logical conclusions from written information.
Civil Service Numerical Test
The Civil Service Numerical Test, or numerical reasoning test, is similar to other standard numerical reasoning tests. The information for the test is represented in charts, graphs, and tables.
In the Civil Service Numerical Test, you will be required to answer three to four multiple-choice test questions per diagram. You may need to do basic math calculations for some of the questions. All the numerical data presented in the numerical test is relevant to what is required of applicants for that specific job.
The goal of the Civil Service Numerical Test is to see how well you can interpret numerical information from charts, graphs, and tables to solve a problem.
The Civil Service Judgement Test
The Civil Service Judgement Test will most probably be the Civil Service Initial Sift test. It is a psychometric test that assesses specific abilities.
The Civil Service Judgement Test is a multiple-choice assessment that assesses your ability to make reasonable decisions under tight time constraints. This situational judgement test also measures whether your decisions are aligned with the core competencies of the Civil Service Framework.
The Civil Service Judgement Test is divided into two parts. In the first part, you will be questioned about your typical behaviour and work preferences. You will need to rate how motivated, ambitious, and flexible you are in the workplace.
This self-assessment accounts for 15% of your overall judgement test score. You need to answer the questions honestly, as you may be questioned about them during your interview.
In the second part of the online assessment, you will be presented with scenarios that you are most likely going to encounter in your future job. These are hypothetical test situations that involve conflicts.
Each scenario will have a range of possible actions. You need to choose an effectiveness rating for each question. There are four rating options: effective, fairly effective, ineffective, and counterproductive.
To pass a Civil Service Situational Judgment test, you need to score at least 70%. Situational judgement tests do not require prior knowledge or experience. However, doing practise tests can help.
The Civil Service Management Judgement Test
The Civil Service Management Judgement Test is an online situational judgement test. It serves to evaluate your decision-making ability and judgement regarding the daily management of others. The behavioural aspects measured are essential for line management roles.
The five aspects of behaviour assessed in the Management Judgement test are: agility, collaboration, confidence, decisiveness, and empathy.
This online test helps identify management judgement skills for candidates who apply for positions ranging from executive officer to senior executive officer levels.
In the Management Judgement test, you will be presented with fifteen different workplace scenarios with four possible actions. You need to revise the situation and then select an action you are most likely to take and an action you are least likely to take.
Scenarios can be presented in text format or as short videos. You will find sample questions at the start of each test.
Customer Service Skills Test
The Customer Service Skills Test, or Customer Service Test, is an online test that evaluates your abilities and skills in customer service roles. The test provides a realistic insight into what is usually involved in these positions in the civil service.
The Civil Service online test measures your abilities and skills in different ways.
- It evaluates your ability to handle difficult customers.
- Tests your decision-making capabilities in scenarios that customer service advisors will most likely be faced with.
- It measures your attention to detail and ability to work quickly and precisely under tight time constraints.
The Customer Service Test consists of three sections.
In the first section, you will need to reply to a number of customer service queries. Each situation will include background information on the situation and communication from the consumer.
You will need to assess the scenario and the customer communication. Then examine three possible customer responses and select the response you will most likely take.
Once you have selected your choice, you will receive further customer communication. This is a follow-up to your first response. You will then need to choose between three more possible customer responses.
In the second section of the test, you will be presented with six workplace scenarios in a customer service environment and a choice of four possible actions. You need to read the scenario and then pick an effectiveness rating for each action.
The four effectiveness rating options are effective, fairly effective, ineffective, and counterproductive.
The third section of the test has a ten-minute time limit. It tests your ability to work quickly and effectively under tight deadlines.
You will receive small pieces of customer information, such as address details, phone numbers, and dates. You will need to identify any errors between the two pieces of information or add the requested information correctly.
You will find sample questions at the beginning of the test.
The Casework Skills Test
The Casework Test is an online test that aims to assess your abilities and skills with regard to caseworking positions. The test provides a glimpse of what it is like to work in this position in the civil service.
The Casework Test evaluates your abilities and skills in three ways:
- It assesses your ability to process information from a variety of sources and use your ability to effectively analyse situations.
- Evaluates your decision-making and judgement in scenarios that caseworkers are likely to experience within the Civil Service.
- This test measures your attention to detail and ability to work accurately at a fast speed.
The Civil Service online test consists of three parts.
In the first part, you will receive a scenario and relevant background information, including customer emails, messages from coworkers, and letters. You will need to examine the scenario and background information, then read the statements related to the scenario.
For each statement, identify whether the statement is definitely true or false, probably true or false, or if you cannot say.
In the second part, you will be presented with a series of six workplace situations in a casework setting and four possible actions. You need to read each situation and then pick an appropriate effectiveness rating for each action.
The four effectiveness ratings are: effective, fairly effective, ineffective, and counterproductive.
The third part has a ten-minute time limit. It measures how well you can work under time pressure. You will receive case information, such as personal details, account numbers and dates, in the form of images. You will need to identify any mistakes or input the required data accurately.
Civil Service Video Interview
In the Civil Service video interview, you will be given a set amount of time to answer pre-determined questions. Each response is allocated a specific time limit. You may be given one or two chances before submitting each response. The video interview contains nine test questions. The questions are a combination of competency-based and behavioural aspects.
The video interview examines whether you demonstrate the eight key strengths. For the Civil Service video interview, you will need a computer or laptop with a front-facing webcam, a stable internet connection, and a microphone. Although this video interview can be done online at home, you should still wear formal attire as if you were going to a real interview.
Take practise questions to check whether your equipment is working.
The Civil Service Personality Test
The personality test aims to understand your personality and whether your personality traits match the core values of the Civil Service. The recruiters want to see that your answers demonstrate commitment, dedication, honesty, and integrity. The personality test does not have a set time limit. But most candidates take about thirty-five minutes to complete it.
The Civil Service E-Tray Test
The E-Tray test examines much more than just your ability to compose emails. It provides you with work tasks to accurately measure your probable performance in the workplace. So you need to take the test as if you were already employed and completing it for real-life work situations.
Civil Service Fast Stream and Fast Track
Civil Service Fast Stream and Fast Track usually require candidates to take the same tests as the normal online application process. But, Fast Stream and Fast Track candidates sometimes need to take assessments that are slightly different in terms of content or time constraints.
What is the Civil Service Fast Stream and Fast Track?
Fast Stream is an apprenticeship programme aimed at leadership skills and development. It focuses on graduates from different backgrounds.
The goal of this apprenticeship programme is to teach these applicants to become senior leaders in the civil service sector. Applicants can choose from fifteen different schemes. Applicants should apply for more than one path. Applicants require a degree to be considered eligible for this program. The application process takes approximately three months.
Fast Track is another apprenticeship program, but is only applicable to two-year level or higher apprentices. It is a permanent position within the selected UK government department. Candidates can choose between six schemes that are actual alternatives to college. To apply for this program, you need to have a degree and be sixteen years old or older.
Civil Service Fast Stream and Fast Track Assessments
Fast Stream candidates, like every other candidate, will need to take the Civil Service Situational Judgement Test. But this one has fifteen different scenarios, instead of nine, which is in the Civil Service Initial Sift Test.
Fast Stream applicants need to take other additional tests, including a behavioural test. This helps assess work behavior and work-related skills, strengths and weaknesses. The other tests are similar to those other candidates take.
Fast Track applicants have tests that are unique to them, but they are not required to take some other tests.
Candidates applying need to do the online numerical and verbal reasoning tests. Both the tests have a six-minute time limit. The numerical reasoning test consists of twenty-four questions, and the verbal reasoning test has thirty-six questions.
Applicants will need to take a situational judgement test, like other candidates, but will also need to complete a competency questionnaire. This questionnaire aims to evaluate their competencies in the areas required for the Fast Track apprenticeship position.
The situational judgement test does not have a time limit but should take you a maximum of thirty minutes to complete. The assessment centre tasks are similar to what other applicants are required to take, but Fast Track candidates only have a half-day event. They will need to do a group task, a written task, and a competency-based interview.
Depending on the apprenticeship scheme you have selected, you may be required to take additional tests.
Civil Service Assessment Centre
If you successfully pass the Civil Service online tests, you will be invited to an assessment centre. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your skills to the employers in person while you complete assessment centre exercises throughout the day.
Let’s take a look at some of the different exercises you may be required to do.
These aptitude tests are very similar to the ones you took during the Civil Service online tests step of the application process. The point of taking them again is to verify that you honestly completed the online assessments without cheating or getting help.
Role play Exercises
Role-playing assessment centre exercises involve interaction with the interviewers as well. In these exercises, you will be given a part to play. You need to act within a specific scenario while at the same time complying with the Civil Service core competencies.
Group exercises vary, but they all serve to test your time management, ability to work in a team, and ability to delegate. You will be given some group preparation time before you carry out your plan. These Civil Service assessment centre activities include presentations, role plays, and discussions.
For an individual presentation, you will be assigned a subject or topic and given some time to prepare a presentation based on it. You will have to present your assigned topic to the employers at the assessment centre.
Written exercises assess your ability to complete a written-based task or write a response to a question. You will either be given information to discuss in your written task or to help back up your argument.
Civil Service jobs require intensive application processes and assessments. By thoroughly preparing for the online tests and interviews, you can guarantee your spot in the Civil Service department.
JobTestPrep offers practice tests, guides, and preparation packs to help you become a successful candidate.
Sarah is an accomplished educator, researcher and author in the field of testing and assessment. She has worked with various educational institutions and organisations to develop innovative evaluation methods and enhance student learning. Sarah has published numerous articles and books on assessment and learning. Her passion for promoting equity and fairness in the education system fuels her commitment to sharing insights and best practices with educators and policymakers around the world.