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Frequently <br/>Asked Questions

FAQs

BEFORE YOU APPLY

There is lots of information on the Fast Stream website. You can also find out more when we attend virtual university outreach events at your university. Please check with your careers service for details of any events.

Anyone can apply as long as they meet the nationality requirements and have, or are expecting to have by September 2022, 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 pre 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 alongside external candidates, provided they meet the eligibility criteria. 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 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 2022.

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

There are up to six stages, some of which 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.

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 - A Video Interview involves responding to a series of pre-set questions, which are recorded and then evaluated by an assessor. The interview is timed and takes about 25 minutes to complete.

Stage 4 - Additional Information is required for some schemes, to check your eligibility. You may also be asked to take a numerical test, depending on the schemes you have chosen.

Stage 5 - 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.

Download the PDF FASC Guide here

Stage 6 - 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.

Watch our short video here which explains the stages in more detail. Link to assessment video

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.

If you pass Stage 2 you will have 5 days to complete the Video Interview, which is timed and will take approximately 25 minutes.

Should you pass the Video Interview you will then have 7 days to complete any required additional information sections and/or numerical test.

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.

If you have applied under the Disability Confident Scheme, you can opt out of the Situational Judgement Questionnaires at Stage 1. But you will need to take the other online tests.

Stages 1 and 2 are not timed, but you may need adjustments for the Video Interview and the Fast Stream Assessment Centre. Support arrangements are summarised here - Workplace Adjustments

If you need adjustments for Stage 6, (specialist assessment stage) you will need to agree these with the team who lead that scheme assessment.

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 SDIP 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 SDIP 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 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.

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 SDIP.

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, VIDEO INTERVIEW 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 120 minutes to complete, but these tests are not timed.

We aim to set final pass marks for the online test pass marks by the end of October. 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.

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 end of November. 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.

The interview consists of 9 questions and will take about 25 minutes to complete. Your responses are recorded on a video platform. You can use a PC, laptop, tablet or mobile phone with a front facing camera. Before you start, there are short introductory guidance videos on the platform and a practice question. You can record your response to this question as often as you wish, but you can only record your responses to the actual questions once. There are no follow up questions, so please answer as fully as you can.

You will be asked questions which focus on a range of ‘strengths’ - relating to things you find energising and motivating. Key strengths we ask about are (think about when you’ve demonstrated these):

  • Adaptable - You can adapt to variations in work or environment and your effectiveness isn’t impacted by change. You are flexible and versatile and act as an advocate for change.
  • Enabler - You see the potential in everybody and encourage them to learn, progress and develop.
  • Inclusive - You recognise everyone as an individual, accepting people for who they are and treating everyone fairly. You actively encourage and provide opportunities for others to share ideas and contributions
  • Improver - You look for better ways of doing things and enjoy coming up with new and original ideas.
  • Learner - You are inquisitive, you seek out new information and look for new ways to develop yourself.
  • Relationship Builder - You quickly establish mutual respect and trust, building long lasting relationships with others
  • Resilient - You have inner composure, recover quickly from setbacks and learn from them
  • Responsible - You take ownership for your decisions and hold yourself accountable for what you have promised to deliver.

Before you start the interview, make sure you:

  • Are in a quiet environment.
  • Set aside an hour when you are free from distractions.
  • Have adequate lighting in the room you are in.

You will have 5 days to complete the Video Interview from the date and time it is ‘unlocked'. The deadline for completion will be displayed on your Home Page.

We aim to set final pass marks for the Video Interview by the middle of December. 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 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.

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

If you experience any technical difficulties with your Video Interview, please email the Video Assessment Support Team at support@outmatch.com

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

All Fast Stream schemes other than Generalist, Digital, Data, Technology & Cyber and Human Resources, require you to complete additional information online. If you have been successful for Finance and Commercial schemes you will be asked to complete a numerical test after passing the Video Interview.

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 the Video Interview for, and you can complete the questions in any order.

You must complete the additional information section for all your preferred schemes before you can progress any further. These must be completed within 7 days of passing the Video Interview or your application will expire, and you will not proceed further. If you decide that you do not want to progress a particular scheme that requires additional information you can withdraw from that scheme, and the requirement to complete those scheme specific questions will be removed. This must be done within the 7 day timeframe.

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.

Please refer to guidance about the Numerical Test here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/preparing-for-the-civil-service-verbal-and-numerical-tests

The pass mark for the numerical test is due to be set by the end of November. Candidates who have taken the test will then be marked providing they have also completed any additional information questions required of them for other 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. 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. 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.


Download the PDF FASC Guide here

Everything you need to know is in the FSAC Assessment Centre guide


Download the PDF FASC Guide here

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 device 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 to run assessment centres between early November and mid February.

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.


Download the PDF FASC Guide here

We aim to set final pass marks for the Fast Stream Assessment Centre by the end of February. 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.

Year Here

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

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: