Civil Service Assessments

Prepare for the Civil Service recruitment process with tailor-made practice materials.

Careers In The Civil Service

The Civil Service is a collection of departments, agencies and bodies responsible for delivering public services, and supporting the government in the development and implementation of policies.

It is one of the UK's largest employers, and as its responsibilities are so diverse, so too are the careers it offers.

Opportunities exist in a range of professions including communications, human resources, project management and delivery, operations, and legal, to name a few.

Currently, the Home Office, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Justice, HM Revenue and Customs, and the Department for Work and Pensions account for 67% of all Civil Service employees, but there are many additional areas where you'll also find an exciting and rewarding career.

How To Get Hired In The Civil Service

The Civil Service offers multiple routes to entry, including:

  • Fast Track Apprenticeships
  • Summer Diversity Internships
  • Early Diversity Internships
  • Movement to Work Scheme
  • Student placements
  • Direct job placements

One of the most popular routes to entry though is the Civil Service Fast Stream programme. This is aimed at graduates, and offers two to four years placements on 15 schemes, some of which include:

  • Digital, Data and Technology
  • Finance
  • Commercial
  • Generalist
  • Science and Engineering
  • Project Delivery
  • Government Statistical Service
  • Government Economics Service
  • Government Social Research

Civil Service Application Process

Since 2019, the Civil Service has used its Success Profiles Framework to ensure a fairer, more inclusive approach to recruitment. For each role, candidates are assessed on a set of relevant criteria, based on five key elements:

  • Experience
  • Behaviours
  • Skills
  • Abilities
  • Technical

Multiple methods of assessment are used to measure each area. When you apply for a role, the job description will tell you which elements you'll be assessed on, and how.

Civil Service Online Application

The Civil Service application form requires you to submit personal details, and is likely to include some long-form questions which you'll need to complete.

This is one of the ways it measures behaviours. The questions posed will relate to behaviours necessary for the role, and you'll need to provide examples of when you've demonstrated them.

Examples of these behaviours include:

  • Making effective decisions
  • Working together
  • Communicating and influencing
  • Delivering at pace

In some cases, you might be asked to provide a CV and supporting statement in addition, or as an alternative to the application form.

Civil Service Aptitude Tests

You'll then be asked to complete a series of online tests relevant to job specifics. These measure your skills, abilities and behaviours.

Civil Service Verbal Test (CSVT)

This is an aptitude testdesigned to measure your ability to process information, and identify important details to form conclusions.

You'll be given a passage of text followed by a proposed statement, and will need to select from true, false, or cannot say based on your understanding of the information given.

This test is not timed, but is adaptive, meaning the questions will increase or decrease in difficulty according to your performance.

Civil Service Numerical Test (CSNT)

The numerical test is another measure of your natural aptitude, this time for processing data and your understanding of basic calculations.

You'll be given a sentence or two detailing numerical information, supported by a table, chart or graph. You'll then see a question prompt and five possible answers, only one of which will be correct. Again, this is an adaptive test without a time limit.

Civil Service Judgement Test (CSJT)

This situational judgement test measures your behaviours as they relate to workplace preferences, decision making and professional judgement.

It is split into two sections. In section one, you'll rate a series of statements from completely agree to completely disagree, for example, ‘I adapt to new situations easily.’

Section two involves hypothetical work-based scenarios, presented in either a written or video format. For each scenario, you'll be given four possible actions. You'll need to rate these as either effective, fairly effective, ineffective, or counterproductive.

For managerial level roles, you may be issued the Civil Service Management Judgement Test. This is made up of hypothetical scenarios only, with 15 to work through in total.

Civil Service Customer Service Skills Test

This is administered for customer-facing roles and comes in three sections.

The first tests how well you're able to deal with challenging situations. You'll be given a customer query, including background information and a message from the customer. Three potential responses to this message will also be given. Your task is to select the one you deem most appropriate.

Section two is essentially a situational judgement test, where you'll rate responses to hypothetical situations. Neither section one nor two are timed.

In the final section, you're given 10 minutes to work through a range of customer information, checking for errors and inputting additional information as requested. This skills test measures your ability to work accurately at speed.

Civil Service Casework Skills Test

This is very similar to the customer service skills test but designed specifically for case working roles.

You'll start by working through a range of scenarios. For each, you'll be given background information and a number of statements relating to the case. You'll need to process all the information available to decide if each statement is true or false, or if there's insufficient evidence either way.

You'll then move on to the situational judgement element, and a 10 minute timed section where you'll be asked to check for inaccuracies in casework information.

Civil Service Interview

These are typically conducted face to face but may occasionally be via phone or video. You'll be asked a mix of skills and behavioural based questions, as well as questions relating to your interests. Many of these questions will ask you to provide examples of certain skills and behaviours in action.

You can expect your interview to last between 30 and 60 minutes.

Civil Service Assessment Centre

Successful candidates will then be invited to an assessment centre which will involve multiple activities, the exact nature of which will depend on the role applied for.

Activities you can expect to take part in include:

  • Group exercise
  • Written exercise
  • Leadership exercise
  • E-tray exercise
  • Presentation

You may also attend another interview here. You'll be informed ahead of the day on your exact schedule and what to prepare for.

If you're applying through the Civil Service Fast Stream for either the HR, finance, generalist, or digital, data and technology schemes, this is the last stage of recruitment. Candidates for all other schemes will be asked to attend a Final Selection Board.

Tips To Get Hired At The Civil Service

Understand The Success Profiles Framework

This is what guides the entire recruitment process. So read it thoroughly. In particular, study the behaviours and skills the Civil Service looks for, and think of examples that prove you're a good fit.

Research The Test Programmes

When you know which online tests you'll be taking, find out exactly what's involved in each. Study each question type to get a better understanding of what's being asked of you. The more familiar you are with the content and format, the more you'll be able to focus on the important details.

Practice Aptitude Tests

The best way to improve your performance in the online tests is to practice. This will help you identify strengths and weaknesses, and where you need to focus more attention. It will also help train your brain to think more critically, a valuable skill for the verbal and numerical tests.

Don't Be Afraid To Fail

This applies to every stage of the process. If you put too much pressure on yourself, you'll inevitably slip up somewhere, but if you approach it with realistic expectations you'll lower your stress, and increase your focus. If things don't go your way, don't think of it as a failure, but more a learning experience.

Sample Civil Service Assessments question Test your knowledge!

Score: /5

A policy briefing is due in 5 days. It will take 3 days to gather the necessary data, and 2 days to write and approve the final document. If today is Monday, what is the latest day you can start gathering data without delaying the briefing delivery?

  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday

Select the option that best completes the series: 21, 26, ?, 36, 41

  • 30
  • 31
  • 33
  • 35

During a government audit, it's revealed that four departments have gone over their quarterly budget. In response, a series of cost-saving measures is proposed. Which approach maximizes savings while maintaining essential services?

  • Leasing equipment instead of purchasing it outright.
  • Implementing energy-efficient practices across all departments.
  • Combining administrative functions of the departments.
  • Limiting overtime hours for all employees.

If the total budget for three projects is £325,000 and the projects are in the ratio of 2:3:4 respectively, what is the budget for the largest project?

  • £130,000
  • £140,000
  • £144,000
  • £150,000

After a change in policy, it's found that there is a 42% drop in paperwork processing time. If the original average was 45 hours, what is the new average processing time?

  • 26.1 hours
  • 34.2 hours
  • 21.5 hours
  • 19.8 hours

Build your confidence today

Try one of our Civil Service tests for FREE.

Psychometric Tests was an invaluable resource to ace a multitude of different pre-interview screening assessments.

Natasha used Psychometric Tests in preparation for her interviews at Think Ahead


Civil Service Assessments Tips

Familiarize Yourself with the Format

Getting to know the ins and outs of the test structure is a game-changer. Every test has its unique layout and understanding this early can save precious time during the actual exam. Use the practice exams on Psychometric Tests to get a solid grasp of the question styles and timings, bolstering your confidence on the big day.

Understand the Role

Different roles in the Civil Service require varied skill sets. Make sure you understand the competencies and abilities the specific job you're eyeing is testing for. This insight allows you to tailor your practice on Psychometric Tests, focusing on the sections that are most relevant to your desired position.

Manage Your Time Effectively

Time management can make or break your performance. Learn how much time to allocate to each question and practice pacing yourself with the timed exams on Psychometric Tests. Developing a strong sense of timing helps reduce stress, ensuring you can give every question your best shot without the clock dictating your pace.

Stay Calm and Collected

Exam nerves are common, but they don't have to control your test experience. Techniques like deep breathing or positive visualization can be highly effective in maintaining your composure. Remember, practice breeds familiarity, and familiarity breeds calm. The more you engage with practice tests, the more comfortable you'll become.

Review and Reflect

Post-practice exam review is where the real learning happens. Examine what you got right and where you stumbled. Psychometric Tests offers detailed explanations for answers, allowing you to understand your mistakes and ensure you don't repeat them. Reflection is a powerful tool in your job application arsenal.

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Civil Service Assessments FAQs

How Long Do The Civil Service Online Tests Take?

Whilst many psychometric tests are taken under timed conditions those administered by the Civil Service are not, though it's recommended you allocate one hour per test. For most candidates, this is more than enough, but since speed has no weight on your score it's a good idea to take your time.

How Many Questions Are On The Civil Service Exam?

This all depends on the combination of tests you're required to take. You'll get detailed guidance on this once your initial application has been screened.

How Do I Pass The Civil Service Judgement Test?

Go back to the Success Profiles Framework and review the behaviours the Civil Service looks for. This will give you a good idea of what it expects in terms of judgement and actions. Though it's important to answer honestly, as you may be asked to follow up questions at the interview.

Is It Difficult To Get A Civil Service Job?

As it is fully accountable to the public, the Civil Service runs a stringent recruitment process, assessing each candidate on a range of skills, abilities and behaviours, though these will be tailored to the level of the position applied for. It also aims to be fair and inclusive, so all promising applicants have an equal chance of success.