The Civil Service Fast Stream road show came to Sheffield Hallam today. A packed Careers and Employability Centre heard about the Civil Service Fast Stream graduate programme, and specifically about working for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Speakers gave insights into what it is like to work for the Foreign Office, and described their experiences as Fast Streamers.
Tips for applications to the Fast Stream
In addition to the detailed information and competency framework on the Fast Stream website https://www.gov.uk/faststream, speakers gave students these tips:
- PRACTISE the online tests including the e-tray exercise beforehand – use http://www.civilserviceprep.co.uk/ and http://www.assessmentday.co.uk/
- You will be asked to give written submissions as part of the recruitment process. It can be a good idea to use a structure to help frame your answer, such as: SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) or PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental)
- Use STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to help you talk about yourself and evidence your achievements in the application and at interview
- You are likely to be faced with tasks where you are given lots of information of different types including statistics and opinions to read through. There will be far too much to read in the time available, so you will need to skim read and pick out the key points. You will probably be asked to make recommendations or decisions – use the full range of types of information to back up your answer.
- Certain schemes will have a Final Selection Board – for this you will be role playing, and responding to scenarios played out by actors. The scenarios are likely to involve dealing with a confrontational or challenging situation – so prepare for this. Practise responding to a difficult situation with a friend, or ask for support with this at the Careers Service.
Key points relating to applying for the Foreign Office (Diplomatic Service)
What are they looking for?
- Can you use your brain? Can you absorb information, take notes, notice what is happening around you, inwardly digest, and then draw conclusions, and make decisions about courses of action?
- Can you communicate? Can you talk about decisions, policy and strategy clearly – in writing, by email, in reports for Ministers. Are you confident enough to communicate to large audiences – in Foreign Office roles you will appear on TV and radio, and will be quoted and interviewed by the Media. Take opportunities to practise public speaking – on your course, or elsewhere.
- Have you got people skills? Can you work with others, and will other people work with you? Are you able to influence others?
- Are you resilient? Often you will be delivering messages that might be unpopular, and may receive a hostile reaction. How will you cope with this?
If you are interested in applying for the Fast Stream but aren’t sure about which scheme to apply for, or would like support with your application, call in to the Careers and Employment Service.