Skip to main content
Frequently <br/>Asked Questions

FAQs

BEFORE YOU APPLY

You can find lots of information on the Fast Stream website.

Anyone can apply as long as they meet the nationality requirements and have, or are expecting to have by September 2023, a degree that meets the grade/subject required for the scheme(s) they want to apply for. How long ago you received your degree has no bearing on your application.

All Fast Stream candidates are required to satisfy the nationality eligibility requirements for joining the Civil Service as well as immigration requirements.

You are eligible to apply for the Civil Service Fast Stream if you satisfy both the Nationality and Right to work/Immigration requirements.

Nationality requirements (Civil Service Nationality Rules)

You are eligible to apply if you are a:

  • UK National
  • Nationals of Commonwealth countries who have the right to work in the UK
  • Nationals of the Republic of Ireland
  • Nationals from the EU, EEA or Switzerland with settled or pre-settled status or who apply for either status by the deadline of the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
  • Relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals working in the Civil Service
  • Relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals who have built up the right to work in the Civil Service
  • Certain family members of the relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals

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

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

You must have the right to work in the United Kingdom, and it is your responsibility to make sure that you meet the Immigration and Visa requirements for the scheme(s) you are applying for. If you are successful in your application, we will check your right to work at our pre-employment stage.

Further details can be found on the Gov.uk Visas and Immigration page

The Fast Stream Team cannot offer advice on Visa and Immigration eligibility.

The Fast Stream does not offer Sponsorships

Scheme eligibility is detailed within each individual scheme section, on the scheme options page.

Any civil servant (including employees on fixed term contracts) can apply to the Fast Stream if they meet the eligibility criteria, alongside external candidates. The selection process is exactly the same.

In some situations you may not need a degree to be eligible to apply. Please look at individual scheme pages to see which schemes allow degree exemption for civil servants.

You will need to meet the following criteria:

  • Currently a permanent Civil Servant, grade of HEO (or equivalent) or below, and have passed your probationary period or on track to passing your probation at the point of taking up post if successful.
  • Employees of NDPBs are eligible to apply if they were 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 recruited directly into an NDPB staffed exclusively by civil servants as a matter of policy, OR recruited before 1 September 1992 into one of the identified public bodies which employed staff eligible for interdepartmental trawl.

You must meet the eligibility criteria at the point of taking up a post.

Successful candidates who are serving civil servants and have maintained continuity of service will have their basic pay from their former Civil Service post taken into account during the calculation of their starting salary.

Yes, you can apply, but you must be able to provide evidence that your degree is at a comparable level to that required by the Fast Stream scheme(s) applied for. You are responsible for providing documentation and meeting any associated costs; we will normally ask to see this if you are successful, during our pre-appointment checks. The UK National Information Centre for the recognition and evaluation of international qualifications and skills (UK ENIC) provides information about the comparability of different international qualifications.

Yes. You can only apply once during any given recruitment campaign, but if you have applied in a previous year, you can apply again. It is not unusual for applicants to be successful after two or more attempts. Each application is treated separately and information about any previous application will not be known.

The timescale depends on a variety of factors, such as the number and type of schemes you have applied for. Please continue to check your homepage for updates throughout the application process.

Yes. You will be guaranteed a permanent job, subject to satisfactory pre-employment checks and performance and conduct while you are on the scheme.

The Government Communication Service (GCS) is committed to continuous improvement and as part of that process they have held an in-depth review into their Fast Stream programme. They have decided to pause the programme while they look at strengthening the programme. This means they will not be recruiting a new Fast Stream cohort to join us in 2023.

GCS remains absolutely committed to developing and retaining talent and improving all their accelerated development programmes, including the Fast Stream.

There are two routes through which to qualify to apply for the GSR Fast Stream Scheme:

Qualification route

You will need to hold an undergraduate degree at a minimum of 2:1, or 2:2 with a postgraduate degree. Your qualifying degree (i.e. undergraduate or Masters) needs to contain substantial social research methods training (comprising of around one third of modules taken in your course) including the mandated area below, plus at least three of the other areas listed:

  • Quantitative research methods (mandatory): quantitative data collection and research design, including questionnaire design, sampling and weighting
  • Qualitative methods: qualitative data collection and research design, including interviewing skills, conducting focus groups and ethnographic methods
  • Systematic/literature reviews
  • Data analysis, including data linkage, interpretation of data and presentation of results
  • Hypothesis testing and evaluation
  • Application of ethics to research

Professional Experience route

If your degree does not have the required level of social research methods training but you have substantial experience applying social research methods in the workplace, you may qualify for the professional experience route. If you hold a degree in any subject at a minimum of 2:1, or 2:2 with a postgraduate degree, or a degree equivalent (e.g. an advanced Certificate or Diploma from MRS) plus a minimum of 4 years social research practical experience you can still apply for the GSR Fast Stream. Social research practical experience consists of experience working in a research agency, market research agency or specialised research team. You must make explicit the breadth and depth of your research experience and skills, to include the mandatory area below plus at least three of the remaining areas, in your application:

  • Quantitative research methods (mandatory): quantitative data collection and research design, including questionnaire design, sampling and weighting
  • Qualitative methods: qualitative data collection and research design, including interviewing skills, conducting focus groups and ethnographic methods
  • Systematic/literature reviews
  • Data analysis, including data linkage, interpretation of data and presentation of results
  • Hypothesis testing and evaluation
  • Application of ethics to research

If successful, any move to the Fast Stream from another employer will mean you can no longer access childcare vouchers. You may however be eligible for other government schemes, including Tax Free Childcare. Determine your eligibility at https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/.

APPLICATION PROCESS

Candidates will have two weeks to complete their initial application. This is to give candidates sufficient time to apply, whilst ensuring final selection phases and pre-employment checks are concluded in time for start dates in late 2023.

There are up to five stages, depending on which scheme(s) you apply for. Some stages are multimedia; information is presented in video, audio, graphical or visual formats as well as text. You must pass each stage to move on to the next one.

Stage 1 - Online Tests consist of Work Style Questionnaires and Multimedia Situational Judgement Questionnaires (SJQ). These are multiple-choice assessments and are untimed. This stage also includes a numerical test, which is untimed.

Stage 2 - Work Based Scenarios consist of a Case Study and Learning Assessment. Both use multimedia and both are multiple choice and are untimed.

Stage 3 - Additional Information is required for some schemes, to check your eligibility.

Stage 4 - A half day virtual Assessment Centre. The Fast Stream Assessment Centre (FSAC) reflects some of the key elements of a Fast Stream role and will consist of a leadership scenario, a team scenario and a written scenario. Link to FSAC guide

Stage 5 - The majority of schemes have a Final Selection Board, which is a scheme specific assessment. Only Generalist, HR, Digital, Data, Technology & Cyber and Finance do not have this stage.

Download the PDF FASC Guide here

You have 5 days to complete the initial Online Tests, which are not timed.

Once you have passed Stage 1 you will have a further 5 days to complete the Work Based Scenarios, which are not timed.

You may need to complete additional information online. These must be completed within 7 days of passing the Work Based Scenarios or your application will expire, and you will not proceed further. Further information is available at the FAQ: Which schemes require additional information?

The next stage, the Fast Stream Assessment Centre, takes approximately 5 hours, and you will be notified of the date of your assessment at least 5 days in advance.

You must complete all stages within the time given. Please remember to check your application portal and junk mail for notifications and timescales. Please do not wait until the last moment to undertake the assessments, in case you have any technical issues.

If you require adjustments to complete any part of the application process, you must tell us about this on the application form. Please give as much detail as possible about what adjustments you will need, so that we can put arrangements into place. We may need to contact you to discuss your requirements.

Stages 1 and 2 are not timed, but you may need adjustments for the Fast Stream Assessment Centre.

If you need adjustments for Stage 5, (Final Selection Board stage) you will need to agree these with the team who lead that scheme assessment.

Further information on disability support is provided here: Civil Service Fast Stream: Promoting diversity and inclusion

No, you do not. All stages of the selection process can be done remotely, but please note that the Fast Stream Assessment Centres and Specialist assessments will be conducted in UK GMT time.

You can select up to four schemes, provided you are eligible for them. 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 to your first preference scheme you will be considered for schemes in order of your preferences. So, please choose the order of your schemes carefully!

Please note: you can withdraw from a scheme you have selected but only 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, but please bear in mind that the SIP is designed to support people in getting onto the Fast Stream. If you are successful in both applications you will need to accept your Fast Stream offer and we will not take forward your SIP application

If you want to apply for both you must first select Civil Service Fast Stream under "Choose your route” and then the drop down enables you to select SIP.

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

If you want to apply for both you must first select Civil Service Fast Stream under "Choose your route” and then the drop down enables you to select SIP.

You should email faststream.applicationsupport@cabinetoffice.gov.uk and tell them who you are and what exactly is the problem. If you have a technical issue please try to take a screenshot of the problem to help us resolve the issue. The team will aim to respond to you within 48 hours. Please do not make another application on the system using an alternative email address, as this will invalidate both your applications.

Please check our social media channels for any updates about system issues or outages as we will share real-time information there. If you continue to have issues accessing your account, please email faststream.applicationsupport@cabinetoffice.gov.uk

Please note, once our application window closes you will be unable to apply for Fast Stream.

ONLINE TESTS AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Once you have submitted your application there will be a short delay before you can begin the online assessments. During this time the tests will show as "locked" on your home page. You will receive an email when the tests become "unlocked" and are ready for you to complete. This may be a few days after submitting your application, so please keep checking your Home Page and email to see when these are available. You will be given 5 days to complete the tests from the date and time these are "unlocked" and the deadline for completion will be displayed on your Home Page. You must complete each stage fully before the expiry time. Please remember to check your account and junk mail for email notifications.

As a guide we expect the tests should take up to 130 minutes to complete, but these tests are not timed.

These both have a similar format to the Online Tests. Unlike the Online Tests, the Case Study assessment is set in one scenario where you assume the (fictitious) role and have a number of tasks to complete.

The Learning Assessment is a work-based scenario that looks at how well you learn and adapt your judgement in a developing work context. Within the assessment scenario you assume the role of someone on a leadership development programme similar to the Fast Stream where you are periodically posted to work in different teams. As you progress through the assessment, the story will develop, and the date and time will frequently advance forwards. Around halfway through the assessment scenario, you will also move postings and your job role will change.

Before taking the Numerical test, you should get used to what they look like by taking the practice tests, so you are fully familiar.

Civil Service Numerical Practice Test

The practice test is not scored. It is designed to show you the look and feel of the real test while keeping the questions easy to respond to. Taking a practice test can be particularly helpful if you use assistive technology to access web content and want to know if it will work on the real test.

The real test also includes example questions at the beginning of each section.

We aim to set final pass marks for the online test pass marks by the end of January. Candidates will receive their results periodically and not all at the same time, so please make sure you regularly check your homepage, email inbox and check your junk or spam mailbox.

You will receive feedback whether you are successful or not at the tests.

You might not necessarily have been successful for your first choice of scheme. This is because each scheme has its own unique pass mark (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, and so on.

These both have a similar format to the Online Tests. Unlike the Online Tests, the Case Study assessment is set in one scenario where you assume the (fictitious) role and have a number of tasks to complete.

The Learning Assessment is a work-based scenario that looks at how well you learn and adapt your judgement in a developing work context. Within the assessment scenario you assume the role of someone on a leadership development programme similar to the Fast Stream where you are periodically posted to work in different teams. As you progress through the assessment, the story will develop, and the date and time will frequently advance forwards. Around halfway through the assessment scenario, you will also move postings and your job role will change.

We aim to set final pass marks by the middle of February. Candidates will receive their results periodically and not all at the same time, so please make sure you regularly check your homepage, email inbox and check your junk or spam mailbox.

You will receive feedback whether you are successful or not.

All Fast Stream schemes other than Generalist, Commercial, Finance, Digital, Data, Technology & Cyber, Property and Human Resources require you to complete additional information online.

You will find a new section on your homepage with questions to be completed. The number of links will vary depending on which schemes you have passed for following the Work Based Scenarios, and you can complete the questions in any order.

You will find a new section on your homepage with questions to be completed. The number of links will vary depending on which schemes you have passed for following the Work Based Scenarios, and you can complete the questions in any order.

You will be asked to download a document for each scheme with the scheme specific 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 additional information within 2 weeks of it being submitted. You must complete all of the additional information questions before you can progress for any of your schemes.

We are not able to provide individual feedback at the additional information stage, as all information is anonymised before being sifted.

You will be invited to the assessment centre stage. If you decide that you do not want to progress a particular scheme you can withdraw from that scheme, but you must do this before you are invited to the assessment centre. You are not able to re-order your scheme preferences.

ASSESSMENT CENTRE AND FINAL SELECTION

You will be assigned to a particular date to undertake your FSAC. You must make every effort to attend the date you have been allocated. If you cannot make that date, we will try to re-arrange it so that you can complete your assessment on a different day, if there are other slots available. But please note that unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to reschedule your date.

The FSAC is a virtual assessment centre which means the entire assessment centre is completed online. A virtual assessment centre might sound daunting at first, but it’s not much different from a ‘face to face’ assessment centre - and we will support you all the way. It means you won't need to visit our offices in-person. But it’s a way for us to assess applicants remotely. We will make arrangements to put any adjustments you have requested into place before you undertake the assessment. For more information on the process please read the candidate guide to FSAC. Link to FSAC guide below.


Download the PDF FASC Guide here

For more information on the process please read the candidate guide to FSAC. Link to FSAC guide

There are lots of logistical IT things you’ll want to get right from the start. Here’s a list to consider:

You will need a laptop or computer with a webcam and microphone, and a strong WiFi connection. We recommend that you run a test to check that your WiFi, webcam and microphone are working before your FSAC date. Tablet devices are not compatible.

You will need access to Google Meet. We recommend using the current version of Google Chrome for the best user experience. If you are unable to access Google Chrome then we recommend using a current version of Safari 13+, Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

On the day, if you are disconnected from the internet we might need to contact you via phone, so if possible have a mobile phone ready and fully charged.

Arrange to complete your assessments in a quiet room with plug sockets and internet connection. Plugging your laptop into a charging socket will prevent it from running out of battery on the day.

You can find more information in the FSAC Guide. If you have any IT logistical concerns before the assessment day please email faststream.applicationsupport@cabinetoffice.gov.uk

We expect assessment centres to run between the end of January and the end of March.

You will need to have your passport and Fast Stream application system login details with you. Please check the FSAC Guide for further information. You will also find it helpful to have a pen and some paper so that you can take notes during the assessment if you wish.

Yes. The FSAC Guide has more information. Link to FSAC guide

We aim to set final pass marks for the Fast Stream Assessment Centre by the middle of May. Candidates will receive their results periodically and not all at the same time so please make sure you keep an eye on your home page, email inbox and check your junk or spam mailbox.

You will receive written feedback that summarises your performance whether you are successful or not.

Details of candidate feedback will be outlined in each of the Final Selection Board Guides.

STARTING ON THE FAST STREAM

When you start work will depend on which Fast Stream scheme you have applied to. Most schemes start in September or October the year after you applied.

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 will fit in best. You might be surprised how many different departments can fulfil your interests and offer you brilliant opportunities to accelerate your development.

No, although we will consider your location preferences when assigning you to postings. Fast Streamers are expected to be mobile and flexible - most Fast Streamers will need to relocate at least once during the programme. We will consider requests to work in specific locations based on personal circumstances, like caring responsibilities. But we cannot guarantee suitable posts will be available in every location.

The Government’s Levelling Up Agenda means that more and more posts are available outside of the South East, and there are many opportunities available in different parts of the UK. However, we cannot guarantee suitable posts will be available in every location.

There are some exceptions which allow you to defer your place on one of the centrally managed Fast Stream schemes. If you are accepted onto one of our partners’ programmes, you can defer, as you will gain valuable experience and skills to bring into the Civil Service:

The Transform Alliance

Complete a two-year programme in one of the following five frontline public services; teaching, children’s social work, policing, mental health social work or prisons. Make a difference and prove you are a leader.

TeachFirst

Two years as a teacher. Teacher and leadership training for people who are passionate about giving children from the poorest backgrounds a great education. It only takes one brilliant teacher to change a child’s life.

Frontline

Two years as a social worker transforming the lives of the most vulnerable children and families. At least half a million children in England do not have a safe or stable home and the children who need social workers deserve life-changing professionals. Through intensive training with expert academic input you will become a social worker and leader, so you can empower families to achieve positive, lasting change.

Police Now

Two years as a neighbourhood police officer, policing a community of 20,000. Leadership training programme which gives people the opportunity to transform challenged and often deprived communities. Develop skills in negotiation, problem solving and decision-making as well as resilience and emotional intelligence - all skills relevant to many careers. Help to improve lives, not just for today, but for generations to come.

Think Ahead

Two years as a mental health social worker. Social work, mental health and leadership training for people passionate about making a real difference to people with mental health problems. Mental illness is everywhere, it turns lives upside down. Give those with mental health problems the chance to flourish.

Unlocked Graduates

Two years as a prison officer, leading change on the inside. Expert leadership training to lead on the frontline in prisons for people passionate about tackling the damage and cost of prisoner reoffending. Inject new ideas, insights and energy into the rehabilitation of offenders through your actions and thoughts on wider policy. Develop negotiating, influencing decision-making and relationship-building skills vital to any career whilst leading subtle changes on the inside that deliver huge benefits on the outside.

Other partner schemes:

Entrepreneur First

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

Lead First

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

The centrally managed Fast Stream schemes are listed below:

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

We will also consider deferral, regardless of scheme, based on exceptional personal circumstances such as illness or bereavement. If you think you may need to defer for any of these reasons, 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.

If you have been successful in gaining a position on the Fast Stream, you will be sent a link to access the Pre-Employment Check guidance via the notification of job offer email.

Please make sure that you read the information provided in the link carefully, as it explains the steps you need to take to enable us to complete your pre employment checks for the role.

If you are offered a post and are already a Civil Servant, please notify us as soon as possible by contacting faststream.applicationsupport@cabinetoffice.gov.uk and letting us know which department you are currently based in. We need this information to ensure the correct level of checks are completed ahead of you starting your role on the Fast Stream.

If you have any questions regarding the pre-employment process, please contact us by emailing faststream.applicationsupport@cabinetoffice.gov.uk

We recognise that candidates who have progressed through several stages of our rigorous process, but are not offered a Fast Stream post, are talented individuals with a range of strengths and skills we need in our workforce. We subsequently appoint a proportion of these candidates in merit order at Executive Officer and Higher Executive Officer grade roles, depending on how far they progressed in the Fast Stream process. If you are eligible for the Direct Appointment Scheme (DAS), the team will be in touch via email with the necessary details. These opportunities are based on demand from departments so we may not make contact straight away. If you are eligible and you turn down an offer given to you, it may be unlikely that you will be offered another role. You will not need to apply for DAS separately. As DAS is based on merit order and demand, we are unable to guarantee that a post will be offered to you.

If you are unsuccessful check out our partner programmes on alternative career routes: