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.

Detailed scheme eligibility can be found within each individual scheme section. These can be accessed via the homepage.

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.

Where in service applicants can apply without the relevant academic qualification then their eligibility criteria is as follows:

  • Currently a Civil Servant and have passed probationary period*  
  • grade of HEO (or equivalent) or below
  • The scheme is not open to anyone who is currently undergoing any absence or poor performance action. 

* Some employees of NDPBs are also eligible to apply. Candidates may if they are employed by an NDPB and were: 

  1. originally recruited by fair and open competition, and transferred directly to an NDPB from a permanent post in the Civil Service without a break in employment; or
  2. recruited directly into an NDPB staffed exclusively by civil servants as a matter of policy; or
  3. recruited before 1 September 1992 into one of the identified public bodies which employed staff eligible for interdepartmental trawl.

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.

We’re making lots of changes this year to try and make the process shorter. We are aiming to make job offers within 12 weeks of application, but it can be longer depending on a variety of factors such as the type of schemes you’ve selected and how many.

Yes. Subject to satisfactory pre-employment checks and performance and conduct whilst on the scheme you'll be guaranteed a permanent job.

Relevant social science disciplines include:

  • area and development studies
  • criminology
  • demography
  • economics
  • economic and social history
  • education
  • environmental planning
  • human geography
  • linguistics
  • management and business studies
  • mathematical sciences
  • methods and computing
  • political science and international studies
  • psychology
  • science and technology studies
  • social anthropology
  • social policy
  • social work
  • socio-legal studies
  • sociology and statistics
  • statistics

Relevant social research methods component include:

  • qualitative data collection and research design, including: interviewing skills, conducting focus groups and ethnographic methods
  • quantitative data collection and research design, including: questionnaire design, sampling and weighting
  • hypothesis testing and evaluation
  • undertaking systematic reviews
  • data analysis, including data linkage, imputation and presentation of results
  • application of ethics to research

Anyone can apply as long as they meet the nationality requirements and have, or are expecting to have in 2018, a degree that meets the grade/subject required for the scheme(s) they want to apply for. When you received your degree has no bearing on your application.


If you require workplace adjustments to allow you to complete the assessment process, you’ll be given the opportunity to indicate this when you apply and we will arrange this for you.  If successful at the initial stage then your adjustments will be agreed with you for subsequent stages of the e-tray exercise onward. We can make a range of provisions, including modified PCs, special chairs, trained readers and adjustment of time for the e-tray exercise, video interview and the Fast Stream Assessment Centre.  If you need adjustments for a specialist assessment stage you will need to agree these with the scheme owner.  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, depending on the schemes you have chosen there may be extra information to be completed, an intermediate sift process, or a Numerical Test to take.

If you pass these stages then  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.

Most schemes will then require a final selection stage, we’ll ask you to attend this final assessment if you reach the required standard at the assessment centre.

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

The initial online stages of the Fast Stream selection process can be done remotely. If you make it through to the assessment centre stages, you'll need to be in the UK to attend those events.

You can select up to four schemes that you’re eligible for. You need to specify your preferences in the order you want them to be considered, as you will not be able to add to or change your preference order once you have selected them. 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!

Please note that you will only be able to withdraw from a scheme selection before you are invited to the Fast Stream Assessment Centre (FSAC). Once you have been invited to FSAC you will be unable to withdraw from any scheme. We therefore encourage you to select your scheme preferences carefully, focusing on eligibility requirements for each scheme and researching the information available.

You can indeed but please be aware that as the SDIP is designed to support people in getting into the Fast Stream, if you are successful in both applications you will need to accept your Fast Stream offer and withdraw from the SDIP. 

If you do wish to apply/be considered for both you must first select Civil Service Fast Stream under “Choose your route”  and then the drop down enables you to select SDIP. 

If you only wish to be considered for SDIP select the Summer Diversity Internship Programme (SDIP) route.   If you select SDIP, then you will not be able to subsequently add Civil Service Fast Stream schemes this year.

You should email and tell them who you are and what exactly is the problem and they will get back to you.

Check our social media channels for updates on any potential issues and for confirmation of when they are resolved.


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 practice. 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 five-day window in which to complete the questionnaires.

We’re no longer using verbal and numerical reasoning tests as an initial screen, however for Finance and Commercial schemes you will be asked to complete a Numerical test after passing the Video Interview.


You should receive the results of the initial two tests within 12 hours of completion for the main Fast Stream schemes. We expect the SDIP and EDIP pass marks to be set in late October

The e-tray is a timed exercise which lasts 80 minutes. You’ll have five 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 How to use the e-tray page explains the different screens in more detail.

We have now set the final e-Tray Pass Marks for all schemes. Candidates will receive their results periodically and not all at the same time.


  • 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 - therefore please provide full responses. 


  • 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.

If you have successfully completed and passed your e-tray, you will be invited for the video interview. 

We have now set the final Video Interview Pass Marks for all schemes. Candidates will receive their results periodically and not all at the same time so please make sure you keep an eye on your email inbox and check your junk or spam.

If 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, due to high numbers of candidates applying for the Fast Stream, we are unable to provide individual feedback.

If you experience any technical difficulties with your Video Interview, please email the Video Assessment Support Team on:

The team will be on hand to assist 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If you are successful at the Video Interview for at least one of your chosen schemes, then you will be progressed to the next stage.  For all Fast Stream schemes other than Generalist, Commercial, Finance and Human Resources, you will be asked to complete extra information online.
On your homepage there will be a new section with questions to be completed, these should be completed within 7 days of passing the Video Interview. The number of links will vary depending on which schemes you have passed the Video Interview for, and you may complete the questions in any order.
You need to complete the extra information section before you can progress for any of your schemes. If you decide that you do not want to progress a particular scheme that requires extra information you can withdraw from that scheme, and the requirement to complete those scheme specific questions will be removed.
For the scheme specific questions you will be asked to download a document with the questions on it. Follow the instructions in the document and copy and paste your answer and the heading into the response box on the application service.

We aim to assess the extra information within two weeks of it being submitted. You must complete all of the extra information questions before you can progress for any of your schemes.  If you decide that you do not want to progress a particular scheme that requires extra information you can withdraw from that scheme, and the requirement to complete those scheme specific questions will be removed.

If you are successful at the Video interview and you have either (or both) the Commercial or Finance schemes as a preference then you will be asked to complete a timed online Numerical Tests. You will be sent a separate email to give you instructions on how to complete the test and will be required to complete this within 7 days of the time and date of the email. Candidates who have had additional time agreed for the e-Tray due to a workplace adjustment will also be given this for the Numerical Test.

If you have schemes that require extra information, along with schemes that require a Numerical Test, you’ll need to complete both before you can be considered to progress to the next stage. If you decide that you do not want to progress a particular scheme that requires extra information you can withdraw from that scheme, and the requirement to complete those scheme specific questions will be removed.

The pass mark for the Numerical Test is due to be set by the end of October. The candidates who have taken the test will then be marked providing they have also completed any extra information questions required of them for other schemes.


There are two Fast Stream Assessment Centres, one in Newcastle and one in London. We will ask you to attend one of these to undertake your assessment. When we select the most appropriate centre, we will take into account any workplace adjustments or mobility concerns raised.

When you have been allocated a venue you will need to complete a travel booking form so the Fast Stream Operations Team can book your travel and accommodation or reasonable travel costs will be reimbursed, see FSAC Assessment Guide for instructions.

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. 

Everything you need to know about the assessment centre is in the FSAC Assessment Guide


We are aiming to have the assessment centre appointments take place from late October onward and should be running until early January. 

The Fast Stream Operations Team will book your travel, please see instructions - FSAC Assessment Guide. 

Unfortunately, due to high numbers of candidates applying for the Fast Stream, we are unable to provide individual feedback at the extra information stage
We do provide detailed feedback to candidates following completion of the Fast Stream Assessment Centre (FSAC). 

Final FSAC Pass Marks have been set for all schemes.


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 fulfill your interests and offer you with brilliant opportunities to accelerate your development.

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 exceptions where you can defer your place on one of the centrally managed Fast Stream schemes. If accepted, there’s an exciting opportunity to complete a programme with one of our partners, where you will gain valuable experience and be able to expand your skillset:

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.

Unlocked Graduates is a unique two-year leadership development programme aiming to develop society’s future leaders, whilst addressing the terrible damage and cost of re-offending. 

The centrally managed Fast Stream schemes are listed below:

  • Commercial
  • Digital, Data & Technology
  • Finance
  • Generalist
  • Government Communications
  • Project Delivery
  • Science & Engineering
  • Statistical
  • Human Resources

We will also consider deferral, regardless of scheme, on the basis of exceptional personal circumstances such as illness or bereavement.

If you think you may need to defer for any of the reasons above, you will be able to request this following your offer of a place on the Fast Stream and this will be considered on a case by case basis.

You will be sent the links to access the Pre Employment Check guidance and form via the notification of job offer e-mail.
If you have any questions regarding this process please do contact us by emailing