Frequently <br/>Asked Questions



The Fast Stream holds regular events all over the UK.

You can also talk to an existing Fast Streamer about their experiences on the Fast Stream on our Facebook page.


You are eligible to apply for the Civil Service Fast Stream if you satisfy that nationality requirement and the right to work requirement.

Nationality requirement:

You are eligible to apply if you’re a:

You must be a British citizen to apply for some posts, particularly those related to security and intelligence. Check on the individual scheme pages.

Right to work requirement:

In addition to the nationality requirement, you must have the right to work in the United Kingdom. 

Eligibility requirements are explained in more detail in the Civil Service nationality rules.

Any civil servant can apply to the Fast Stream alongside external candidates. The selection process is exactly the same, but in some situations you may not need a degree to be eligible to apply.

Read more about how to apply to the Fast Stream as a Civil Servant.

We accept applications from candidates with overseas degrees, provided that they can supply evidence that their degree is at a comparable level to that required by the Fast Stream scheme(s) applied for. The onus (including any costs) of providing appropriate documentation is on the candidate. The National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) provides information about the comparability of different international qualifications. We would not normally ask for such evidence until you had been declared successful: it would then be required for our pre-appointment checks.

Yes, if you have applied in a previous year, you can apply again. It's not unusual to succeed after 2 or 3 attempts.

However, you can only apply once in each recruitment campaign.

Information from previous applications will not be available to assessors.

<p>We’re making lots of changes this year to try and make the process shorter. Currently, the minimum period is approximately 12 weeks, but it can be longer depending on a variety of factors such as the type of schemes you’ve selected and how many.</p>

Yes. If you successfully secure a place on the Fast Stream you will be permanently appointed to the Civil Service. So subject, of course, to satisfactory performance and conduct, you'll be guaranteed a permanent job.


If you require reasonable adjustments to allow you to complete the assessment process, you’ll be given the opportunity to indicate and discuss this when you apply. We can make a range of provisions, including modified PCs, special chairs, trained readers and adjustment of time for both the e-Tray exercise and the Fast Stream Assessment Centre. You may also be interested in the Guaranteed Interview Scheme.

There are 2 online questionnaires, an e-tray exercise testing decision-making skills and a video interview. If you pass the online exercises, you’ll be invited to attend an assessment centre. The assessment centre reflects some of the key elements of a Fast Stream role and will consist of a leadership exercise, a group exercise and an analysis exercise. You must go through a final selection process when applying for all Fast Stream schemes except Generalist and Human Resources. We’ll ask you to attend this final assessment if you reach the required standard at the assessment centre.

You have 7 days to complete the online questionnaires which aren’t timed. You have 7 days to complete the e-tray exercise which will take 80 minutes and you have an additional 7 days to complete the video interview which will take 25 minutes. The Fast Stream Assessment Centre takes 5 hours.

The Fast Stream selection process takes some months. If you make it through to the assessment centre stages, you’ll need to be in the UK to attend. You will need regular internet access to keep track of your application.

You can select as many schemes as you’re eligible for. You need to specify your preferences in the order you want them to be considered in. If you are successful in your application to your first preference scheme you will be appointed to that scheme; if you are not successful in your application to your first preference scheme but you are successful in your application to your second preference scheme you will be appointed to that scheme; and so on. So, please choose carefully!


There are three sections in the online tests:

  • online exercises
  • e-tray
  • video interview

As you go through the application process, if you’re successful at the tests in that section, you can then move to the next section and ‘unlock’ the tests.

The first section, ‘Online exercises’, includes two questionnaires:

  • situational judgement questionnaire
  • behavioural questionnaire

We recommend you try out some practice questions for the 'Situational judgement questionnaire' before you apply.

There isn't a practice test for the behavioural questionnaire because it's not something you need to practise. The questionnaire essentially asks you to rate yourself against the Fast Stream and Civil Service competencies.

It's important to note that once you submit your online application you have a seven-day window in which to complete the questionnaires.

We’re no longer using verbal and numerical reasoning tests as an initial screen.


Test results are being processed in batches from the middle of October and you will receive an email as soon as your results become available. Make sure you keep an eye on your email inbox and check your junk or spam.

The e-tray is a timed exercise which lasts 80 minutes. You’ll have seven days to take this. There isn’t a practice e-tray, but before you start the 80 minute timer you’ll be able to try an example scenario so you can learn how it works.

The e-tray is designed to test how you cope with real-world scenarios. You’ll read some background information and then a sequence of messages will come up on your screen. You’ll need to choose the response that you think you’d be most likely to respond with in that scenario, and also the least likely.

The video interview is a new section of the online tests that we’re introducing this year.


  • The interview lasts approximately 20 minutes, consisting of 8 questions.
  • Your responses are recorded on a video platform.
  • You can use a PC, lap top, tablet or mobile phone.
  • There are short introductory guidance videos on the platform.
  • A practice question is included and you can record your response to this question as often as you wish.
  • You can only record your responses to the actual questions once.
  • Don’t expect follow-up questions.


  • The interview asks questions about your experience and also what you enjoy and find motivating.
  • The interview focuses on the following Civil Service competencies: Collaborating and Partnering, Building Capability for All, Managing a Quality Service, Delivering at Pace.
  • It also considers ‘strengths’- relating to things you find energising.

 Setting up - before you start, make sure you:

  • Are in a quiet environment.
  • Set aside an hour when you’re free from distractions.
  • Are presentable and have dressed appropriately.
  • Have adequate lighting in the room you’re in.

You can expect your e-tray results from the middle of November. If you’re successful, you’ll unlock the next section (video interview). Make sure you keep an eye on your email inbox and check your junk or spam.

If you have successfully completed your e-tray, you will be invited for the video interview by mid December. Make sure you keep an eye on your email inbox and check your junk or spam.

You can also sign in to your application dashboard to check if your video interview has been unlocked.

The date on which you will be informed depends on your pass mark, and could be any time from now up until the middle of January 2017. You will be notified by email to your registered email address as well as on your Fast Stream account home page.

Please note that, should you have been successful, it might not necessarily be for your first choice of scheme. This is because each scheme has its own unique pass mark (set based on number of applicants and expectations/requirements of the specific schemes).


If you do not meet the pass mark set for your first choice of scheme, you will be considered for the second; if you do not meet the pass mark set for the second, you will be considered for the third, and so on.

Unfortunately at this stage, due to the unprecedented number of candidates applying for the Fast Stream this year, we are unable to provide individual feedback.


Our assessment centres are in Newcastle and London. You will be allocated to a location.

You will be assigned to a particular date to undertake your Fast Stream Assessment Centre (FSAC). If you cannot make that date then we will endeavour to re-arrange it so that you can complete your Assessment Centre on an alternative date where there are other slots available. Unfortunately we cannot guarantee that we will be able to meet all such requests. 

There are now two Fast Stream Assessment Centres, one in London, and one in Newcastle (new for 2017). Please be aware that in order to match the number of candidates to the number of places available, you may be allocated to either of these locations, regardless of your registered address. When selecting the most appropriate centre, we will, however, take into account any reasonable adjustments or mobility concerns raised. Rest assured, however, that we will reimburse reasonable travel costs.

Everything you need to know about the assessment centre is in the Fast Stream Assessment Centre guide



When you start work will depend on which Fast Stream scheme you’ve applied to. Most schemes start in September or October. For those that don’t, generally you can expect to start work by the end of the calendar year after your initial application.

No. The Fast Stream is a corporate programme, designed to develop leaders for the whole Civil Service. The department you are assigned to will depend on where there are vacancies and on where the scheme managers believe you’ll fit in best. You might be surprised how many different departments can fulfil your interests and to learn just what each department is responsible for – it’s rarely just the area or policy for which they’re best known.

It’s usually presumed that the Fast Streamers will be flexible and mobile. Many civil servants, including some in senior positions, work outside the South East. The majority of Fast Streamers are currently based in London, but opportunities are always available in different parts of the UK. We’ll consider requests to work in specific locations based on personal circumstances like caring responsibilities.

There are a few limited exceptions where you can defer your place. If accepted, there’s an opportunity to complete a programme with one of our partners:

Entrepreneur First Europe’s leading early-stage investor in technology companies. Helping talented individuals build high growth technology start-ups.

Frontline recruits high-achieving graduates into children’s social work, one of Britain’s toughest and most rewarding professions.

Lead First The opportunity to complete an intensive leadership development course, before spending up to a year gaining experience in roles with the British army.

Police Now A new leadership programme which puts exceptional graduates on the policing frontline in challenged communities around the UK.

TeachFirst An education charity working in partnership with others to end educational inequality.

Think Ahead A new route into social work, for those remarkable enough to make a real difference to people with mental health problems.

Year Here Designed as a platform for graduates and young professionals who want to build smart solutions to entrenched social problems.

We will also consider deferral on the basis of exceptional personal circumstances such as illness or bereavement. If you think you may need to defer, you will be able to request this following your offer of a place on the Fast Stream.