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UK Civil Service

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The UK Civil Service helps the government develop and implement policies as effectively as possible, focussing on three types of organisations: departments, agencies and non-departmental government bodies. Due to the variety of jobs available within the civil service, the selection process can vary but will generally involve psychometric testing in the early stages, which helps to maintain a high calibre of staff through assessing candidates abilities. This stage of the process can require successful completion of up to four psychometric tests consisting of Aptitude Tests, Situational Judgement Tests and Personality Questionnaires. Initially, the tests are administered online, but there may be further psychometric tests to be completed in person at the assessment centre stage. Candidates are informed in advance as to which tests they will be required to take.

The UK Civil Service assess candidates using their 4 key values: integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality. It is recommended that applicants consider these values and show evidence of them throughout the selection process. The UK Civil Service use bespoke psychometric tests from Kenexa, and Cubiks provides their e-tray exercises.

The UK Civil Service Process

The UK Civil Service selection process is made of three stages:

  • Application: Applicants will be required to provide their contact details, education and work experience. This is to ensure that the candidate meets the entry requirements for their selected role. some of the schemes applications processes will require the candidate to upload copies of their CV and transcripts.
  • Online Testing: Candidates will then need to undertake up to four psychometric tests; which can include Numerical Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Situational Judgement test and a Personality Questionnaire. Apart from the personality questionnaire, the tests will have strict time limits, so practice tests are recommended. Some of the UK Civil Service schemes will also require candidates to complete an e-tray exercise at this stage.
  • Assessment Centre: Successful candidates will be invited to attend an assessment centre, in which candidates will undertake a number of exercises, consisting of some or all of the following: role play, briefing exercise, policy report, technical report, presentation, group exercise, leadership exercise, competency based interview and e-tray exercise in order to gage the candidate‚Äôs ability. Different combinations of these exercises will be used depending on the scheme applied for. Successful applications at this stage will be offered a place on one of the Fast Stream programmes provided by the UK Civil Service.
    • *A 4th stage will be required for those applying to the diplomatic service, houses of parliament, science & engineering, technology in business and European Fast Stream programmes. This will entail a final selection board or assessment.

    Civil Service Verbal Test

    In these tests, candidates are provided with a passage of written information and asked to analyse and draw logical inferences from that written information. The questions will be multiple choice with the answer options being: true; false; cannot say. The key here is to answer the questions based on purely the information contained within the passage (ignore any prior knowledge you may have). Think literally and go only on what you have been told in the passage. This particular verbal reasoning test has 40 questions and a time limit of 20 minutes.

    Civil Service Numerical Test

    In these tests, numerical data is provided to a candidate, usually in the form of graphs, tables, statistics and financial data. To answer these questions, candidates must analyse this data and make a logical conclusion from it, allowing them to select the correct answer. Typical numerical skills which are tested include addition/subtraction, multiplication/division, ratios, fractions and percentages. This particular numerical reasoning test has 20 questions and a time limit of 25 minutes.

    Civil Service Situational Judgement Test

    Situational judgement tests (SJT) describe fictional scenarios and provide a selection of potential actions. Throughout different sections of the test, candidates are instructed either to select the course of action they are most or least likely to adopt, the most or least effective option, to rank the options in order of effectiveness and to rate responses in terms of effectiveness and counter-productivity.

    Civil Service Personality Questionnaire

    If required to complete a personality test, candidates are instructed do so online. There are no right or wrong answers, although some job roles may be more suited to certain personality types and this is taken into account alongside other information gathered during the selection process. There is not a set time limit to complete the questionnaire, but it should take roughly 35 minutes. Relax and answer questions honestly, don’t try to guess preferred responses.

    Civil Service E-Tray Exercise

    The civil service e-tray lasts approximately 1 hour. Prior to tackling the simulated inbox, there is a 10 minute period to look over additional information before getting to grips with responses. It is important to read all additional documents carefully and consider the information provided when comprising a response. Attention to detail and efficiency are key here, and will be vital when completing the written part of the exercise, which is a report based upon the information provided.

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