Frequently Asked Questions


How difficult is it to get on the Fast Stream?

Interest in the Fast Stream is intense and the entry process, as you'd expect,  is meant to be challenging.  There is online help throughout the process and many people actually enjoy it!  The numbers applying are similar to those of large graduate recruitment schemes in the private sector - details of recent application figures are available here.

Is there a Civil Service ‘type'?
No. The Civil Service is interested in your skills and aptitudes. We have no preferences for particular backgrounds or universities. We want to reflect the diversity of the country we serve.
Am I guaranteed a job offer if I'm successful at FSAC?

Yes, if your preference is the Central Departments Fast Stream. If it's not and there are no vacancies for your first preference, you'll be offered a Fast Stream post in one of the central government departments.

Can I choose the department I work for?

The Fast Stream is a corporate scheme and, although your preference is taken into account, there can be no guarantees on the department or timing of an offer. These depend on opportunities at the time. You might be surprised how many different departments can fulfil your interests.

Will I need to make my career in London?
No. Most departments will start Fast Stream recruits in London, but many civil servants, including senior staff, work outside the south-east. There are also opportunities in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield, for example.
Is impartiality a euphemism for no political views or activities?

No. But the public - and ministers - must be confident in your ability to provide impartial advice irrespective of your personal beliefs. Our work requires a lively and informed interest in political and economic issues - it's likely that candidates possessing all the qualities we look for will have clear political views of their own. The rules are there to help you maintain a balance. As a Fast Stream entrant you are not able to take part in national political activities and you need permission to take part in local political activities - this is normally given unless you're employed in a particularly sensitive area.

Are there special procedures available for candidates with disabilities?

The Civil Service is an Equal Opportunities employer and we have designed the Fast Stream online application form to be accessible. The selection process does contain electronic tests, some of which are also on-line, and we strongly recommend that you use the on-line application process unless you are unable or will be disadvantaged by doing so.  Candidates with disabilities (as defined in the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act) can choose to declare that they require adjustments and can opt to by-pass the online tests.  We can make a range of provisions, including modified PCs, special chairs, trained readers and adjustment of time in the invigilated exercise (e-Tray).  The degree requirement can be waived if you can provide evidence that a disability has prevented you from obtaining a degree, together with alternative evidence of your suitability for the Fast Stream.

Does the order of my choice of options matter?

If you wish to be considered for the Diplomatic Service Fast Stream you must select it as your first preference. In all cases you will be considered for your second and subsequent options after the outcome of your first preference has been determined. This may cause some delay if you've chosen up to four options but it will in no way affect your chances of success. However, the Houses of Parliament option generally has sufficient candidates for their Final Selection Boards from those candidates that have selected it as their first option.

Can I still apply to the Fast Stream if I am an EU national?
Yes. A small number of posts are available only to UK nationals, but most are open to Commonwealth Citizens or European Economic Area Nationals with unrestricted right to reside in the UK. If you wish to join the Diplomatic Service, you must be a British Citizen who has lived in the UK for two of the previous ten years. Full information about nationality requirements can be found at ‘Is the Fast Stream for Me?’
Can I apply if I graduated a couple of years ago?
Yes. We have no limits between the time that you graduated and your application. There is also no age limit when applying to the Fast Stream although departments will expect several years’ service before normal retirement age.
Addressing my concerns
We aim to provide the best possible service to applicants for the Fast Stream. If you are not satisfied with any aspect of the service you receive at any point during the application and selection process, please let us know and we will deal with your concerns as quickly as possible. Click here for guidance on how to do this.