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Civil Service (UK and EU) (Fast Stream & direct entry)

Applying for the Civil Service Fast Stream

The  Civil Service Fast Stream graduate programmes open for applications a year in advance, usually in the autumn term. Schemes vary in duration but usually last from 3-5 years.

Placements are available in the following departments and areas:

  • Government Economic Service
  • Government Statistical Service
  • Government Operational Research Service
  • Government Social Research Service
  • Government Communication Service
  • Diplomatic Service
  • Diplomatic Economic Service
  • Digital, Data and Technology
  • Commercial
  • Science and Engineering
  • Finance
  • Project Delivery
  • Generalist
  • Human Resources
  • Houses of Parliament

The Civil Service Fast Stream visits campus every year to recruit Sussex graduates and runs workshops to help you prepare for making applications and attending an assessment centre. Check CareerHub for the latest events.

Applying for the Civil Service Fast Stream

Step 1: Register

Register via the Fast Stream website.

University of Sussex Civil Service Fast Stream Reps have produced extremely useful Tips for getting through the Fast Stream application and assessment centre [pdf]

Following registration you will be sent a number of tests to complete.

Step 2: Online exercises

There is a situational judgement questionnaire and a behavioural questionnaire. You have 7 days to complete the questionnaires, which are not timed.

There are some practice situational judgement questions you should try before applying. The behavioural questionnaire cannot be prepared for in advance.

Step 3: Online e-tray exercise

The e-tray exercise timed exercise lasting 80 minutes, which you will have 7 days to take. There is no practice exercise, but you will be able to try an example scenario before you start the timer.

If successful, you will unlock the video interview section.

Step 4: Video interview

You will need a computer with a webcam (or smartphone/tablet). Make sure you are in a quiet environment, free from distractions, and that there is adequate lighting. Dress appropriately and treat this like a real interview.

There is a practice question for you to test your equipment. Then you will have 8 questions. You will have 2 minutes to record your answer to the first 7 and 1 minute for the last question. You have 7 days to take the video interview.

Step 5: One-day assessment centre

Interviews and assessment exercises in London or Newcastle. You will be allocated to a location. The assessment centre will consist of a leadership exercise, a group exercise and an analysis exercise.

For full details see the official Fast Stream Assessment Centre Guide [pdf]

Step 6: Final assessment

You must go through a final selection process for all Fast Stream schemes except Generalist and Human Resources. You will be asked to attend this final assessment if you reach the required standard at the assessment centre.

Recording your video interview

You can book one of our consultation booths to record your video interview. Ask at the front desk, request by Ask a Question or email

Direct Appointment Scheme

The Civil Service runs a Direct Appointment Scheme for candidates who have progressed through several stages of the Fast Stream application process, but who have not been successful. Candidates may be contacted by the Direct Appointment Team and offered an Executive Officer and Higher Executive Officer role. See the FAQs for more info

Preparing for interviews and assessment