Hi, I’m Jenny and I have just started my second year on the Digital and Technology Fast Stream. I was previously a tech recruiter and in another previous life, a politics student.
I’m here to talk you through the initial application process for the Fast Stream — it’s honestly not that terrifying!
There are five online elements: registration, situational judgement, behavioural questionnaire, e-tray and video interview.
The main thing to remember is that once you start the process, there are strict deadlines for completing each stage. You have a five day deadline to complete a task when you receive a notification for one. Bear this in mind when managing your workload and make sure it doesn’t clash with essay deadlines or work commitments. Also check your spam to make sure Fast Stream emails don’t get lost. You have until noon at 25 October 2017 to begin your application.
I can’t tell you how to pass these tests but I can give you a few tips to help you prepare:
Take time to read up on the range of streams available, as you will be asked to rank the ones you wish to apply for. Each one will have different entry requirements, so double check you are eligible for them. I would advise you apply for several streams if you are not sure which ones you want to do straight away.
Situational judgement and behavioural questionnaire
These are about how you deal with work situations. There are a whole host of free practice tests on the Internet and it is worth spending some time familiarising yourself with the types of questions you might be asked.
There is no need to panic — think through what you would do in a work situation whilst keeping in mind the Civil Service competencies.
First thing you need to do is block out time in your diary for this, put your phone on silent and find a quiet room. Once you start the e-tray exercise, you can’t pause or go back on exercise.
The e-tray is a work simulation exercise, where you will take a role within a project and be expected to make a series of decisions. This will test how quickly you can process information and make reasoned decisions in a pressured environment.
Again, if you search online, there are plenty of practice tests you can use to get an idea of what to expect. If you are at university, it is worth asking the Careers teams about e-tray workshops. I attended one when I was at university run by one of the Big 4 (I cannot for the life of me remember which firm).
The same with the e-tray exercise — block out an hour and find a quiet room to conduct this. You are also advised to dress appropriately — don’t wear your pyjamas! This will also help you get into the right mindset ready for the interview.
The interview will last 20 minutes, during which you will be asked 8 questions, with 30 seconds between the question and answer to prep your response.
To prep for this, look at the competencies you will be evaluated on and come up with at least two different examples you have displayed a competency. Use the STAR technique to structure your answers. Also, remember to answer the question you have been asked, not the question you wanted to have been asked. Here is a brief guide on competencies from Civil Service Resourcing.
Keep an eye out on your campus for Fast Stream events. Alumni from your university will be on hand to answer any questions you may have.
I’ll be back in a couple of weeks to talk you through the top tips to tackle the Fast Stream Assessment Centre.
Applications for the Civil Service Fast Stream 2018 open on 14 September 2017 and close at noon on 25 October 2017