Civil Service Fast Stream Competencies

When preparing to attend the Civil Service fast stream assessment centre, you need to spend a considerable amount of time learning the key competencies. These are qualities that the Civil Service are looking for in candidates. This means it’s important that you take the time to come up with examples in your career and life which demonstrate that you possess them. So, today we’ll be talking about the Civil Service fast stream competency framework.

Why do Civil Service Competencies matter?

civil service fast stream competencies

The core competencies are important for a number of reasons. They’re used as a means of testing you throughout the application process, from the video interview stage all the way to the assessment centre. If you’re applying via the Civil Service graduate scheme, you’ll need to know the Civil Service competency framework from the beginning of your application.

Civil Service Fast Stream Competency Framework – The Core Competencies

civil service competency framework

Now we’re going to take a look at the core competencies. If it helps, think of this as a fast stream competency questionnaire. Imagine that, for each of these topics, someone is asking you to give an example of how you met the core competency. For each of the competencies, try and get as many examples as possible.

Here are the core competencies:
• Seeing the ‘bigger’ picture;
• Clarity of vision and ideas;
• Changing and improving;
• Leadership;
• Making effective and important decisions;
• Managing;
• Delivering value for money;
• Commercial outcomes;
• Performance – ability to show integrity and diligence;
• Collaborating with others.

Seeing the ‘bigger’ picture

This essentially means that you understand your role within a larger body. This is vital for the Civil Service, since the organisation is huge and you’re only one part of it. For this, think about occasions in work where you’ve done something which would contribute to the company you worked for as a whole, rather than just an isolated department.

Clarity of vision and ideas

For this part of the Civil Service fast stream competency framework, you need to be able to show that you can realise ideas in your own head, and also help them manifest in the world. You need to demonstrate that you’re able to understand an idea in great detail, whether it’s your own or someone else’s.

Changing and Improving

In the Civil Service, you need to be able to take initiative and adapt to new ideas and strategies. You need to be able to work smart and take constructive criticism on board, so that you make yourself more effective in the workplace. Try and think of examples where you’ve been given areas to improve, and how you’ve followed this through.


This is an important competency to have, even if you aren’t going to be a team leader yourself. Having experience as a leader means you can put yourself in the shoes of your own superiors, and perhaps understand them better. If you are ever chosen to lead a team, you’ll have the experience to execute it properly.

Making effective and important decisions

You’ll need to be able to make decisions that are carefully considered, but also within a strict time-frame. You need to be able to evaluate your options, the benefits and risks of each, as well as solutions to problems that you may face. Try and think of examples of when you’ve made cautious decisions that have had a positive result.


This competency requires that you show the ability to keep track of multiple tasks at once, keeping them under control and progressing well. You’ll need to give examples of how you’ve managed your time and resources to great effect.

Delivering value for money

While working in the Civil Service, you’ll be using taxpayers’ money to make the country safer and more effective. As such, you need to be able to use a budget effectively. You need to show results for the investment put into each project. Try and think of times where you’ve been granted a budget of some kind, and have used it sensibly and effectively to maximise the return.

Commercial outcomes

For this competency, you need to be able to show a commercial or financial mindset. This is because you need to come up with innovative business strategies and deliver the greatest value. This is also important because you may need to cooperate with commercial companies and create partnerships with them. Think of some experiences you’ve had with achieving commercial outcomes. Perhaps you’ve been instrumental in striking a deal. Alternatively, maybe you’ve shown a nuanced understanding of how to do business and make a significant return.

Performance – ability to show integrity and diligence

Here, you need to show two different qualities. Firstly, you need to show strong moral character and honesty. This is vital because, as a member of the Civil Service, you’ll be working with sensitive data and dealing with things that affect people across the country. You need to demonstrate that you can be trusted in the workplace.

Secondly, you need to be diligent in your role, showing that you’re ready to work and that you truly care about your job, beyond the salary. The Civil Service looks for people who are passionate about what they do, so remember some examples of you being diligent in a role, and how that had a positive result.

Collaborating with others

Finally, it’s vital that you demonstrate that you can collaborate with others. Whether you’re working in a team, leading a project, or establishing a partnership, you need to be able to work with other people. This means you need to come up with examples of being patient and tolerant. You also need cases where you’ve been appropriately assertive and got the job done. If possible, try and find examples at both ends of this spectrum.


So, that’s a breakdown of the civil service competency framework. Try to come up with as many strong examples as possible before starting your Civil Service graduate scheme application. If you would like to know more about the Civil Service application process, you can have a look at my post about the E-Tray Exercises. You can also check out our book, Civil Service Fast Stream: Sample test questions for the Fast Stream Civil Service Tests.


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