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Fast stream final round - Civil servant

Date: February 2006

Company: Civil Service

Position: Fast Stream

Round: 3 of 3

This was a full day assessment centre. There were plenty of breaks throughout the day so it didn't feel too pressured in that respect, and the lunch was good so that's a plus.

The first exercise (although the order of events changes for different groups) was a group exercise. The group exercise starts with half an hour of preparation in which you are told that you represent a certain department. There is a fictional issue which you are told about and given some reading literature on. Your task is to represent your departments point of view and make the case for it. The actual exercise lasts approx. 45 minutes, and you have to make a decision on which factors you think are the most important and which of four projects will be the best solution to the problem. In the last 10 minutes they stop you and tell you that you have to present your case to a minister and think of responses to potential problems that may be raised over the selected solution.

There are two written exercises within the day. One is quite short and only lasts 30 minutes, in which you have to judge a situation and make comments upon it. The next is about one and a half hours and involves a lot of reading material which have peoples' views and statistics concerning a set of proposals. You have to weigh up the proposals and make a decision based on the information and stated goals which will be the right project. There is no right answer, its how you make the case that counts.

There is an interview section. This is painfully structured. It is the usual when have you worked under pressure, give me an example of this, how did you cope with that, how have you motivated. The usual stuff but with a lot less room to make it feel natural and chatty. Then again it could have just been the person that was interviewing me.

Finally there was a briefing exercise. This starts with you getting a list of three options of fictional solutions to a problem (mine involved new transport schemes). You are given very little information concerning the schemes and a list of criteria that the schemes should fill. You have to pick one of the schemes and prepare a 5-10 minute presentation for 25 minutes beforehand. In the briefing you give the presentation and then you will be asked questions regarding the merits of the scheme and how you would solve problems that might arise. This is a thinking on your feet exercise.

In the day you also sometimes fill in self assessment sheets to say how you thought you did. Be honest on these as they don't appreciate disillusionment - if you were crap then say so.


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