Plus questions asked at interviews for the NHS, police, and local government

Public Sector Interview

FAST STREAM CIVIL SERVANTS must be able to ANALYSE vast amounts of information to prepare briefs for ministers - and have excellent communication skills to WRITE drafts of government White Papers They work in teams and therefore need to CO-OPERATE with many other people They have to make difficult DECISIONS such as which route a new road should take, they may have to PERSUADE others to their point of view and PLAN meetings for government ministers.

Below is the sort of the evidence you could give at interview to demonstrate that you had these skills:

Before you arrive ...

There follows some of the questions that might be specifically asked of students and graduates at interviews for the Civil Service Fast Stream. General interview questions are not asked here, so you might also like to try the general or multiple choice interviews for standard interview questions that might be put to any candidate.

Now go to the first question

See our Public Sector Careers Links for more information and Civil Service Fast Stream Applications and Assessment Centre Information


Questions asked at other Public Sector Interviews

If you have been to an interview or assessment centre recently please fill in our interview report form to help other students.

National Health Service Management Training Scheme

Interview Process

Lasts 40 minutes including a 2 minute introduction with 5 minutes questioning on each of the 5 competencies. All 5 areas must be addressed. (Management Training Scheme - NHS)

Questions asked:

NHS Management Training Scheme Interview

The interview was very strange, it was about 30 mins: 15 mins on why the NHS essentially and 15 on yourself. They asked the standard questions about why join NHS? What have you done to prove you want to work in the NHS? amongst other things. Then they asked the standard skills-based questions I had practised for. 

The difference to most interviews was that they had no idea of my history, who I was and if I was even at University before I can in. They only knew my name. Luckily I told them about my roles at University as was still there, if I didn't they wouldn't know! Finally, they wouldn't allow me to ask them questions at the end as apparently it was unfair. (2014)

Tests given:

Group exercises:



Graduate Development Programme: County Council Assessment Centre

It lasted from 9am to 2pm. There were lots of staff present. The day consisted of three formal selection events.

The first task was an individual task where we were all given a pack of information about development proposals for a fictional town. We had to read the information given and make choices about the recommendations we would make for developing the town, such as infrastructure spending, choice of marketing company to use, retail outlets, transport development etc. Each option had a cost and we were allocated a budget. We had to write (on computer) a report about which option we would select for each part of the package, and why. We were given an hour for this exercise.

The second exercise was a group task where about 6 of us role played being a grant making committee on the council of the same fictional town and we had to decide between us which of 6 community projects we should allocate funding to, in line with council objectives which were related to the first task. We had an hour for this and we each had an interviewer watching us and making notes.

In the final task we were each presented with our report from task one and told we each had 20 minutes to prepare a 10 minute presentation to sell our proposal to staff who were role playing being council leaders. There were questions after the 10 minute presentation so in total this task was about 40 minutes.

There were staff in the refreshments room that we went back to between tasks and I'm pretty sure they were also assessing us then to see how we mixed with others.


The biggest thing that gave me confidence was the realisation that not only was everyone else nervous, the other candidates were in general very friendly with each other. I took it as an opportunity to chat to people in the breaks and I actually forgot I was probably being assessed as I was enjoying myself! I also found it helped to make small talk with the interviewers.

We were not told what the tasks would be beforehand so I was glad that I was happy with my performance on the first one as it could have come back to haunt me in task three where I had to sell my proposals! However I would say if you make a mistake or you feel something went wrong do not dwell on it, just move on.

Time management is pretty crucial in individual tasks and I suspect you get brownie points for keeping on top of this in group tasks too. Also remind yourself that what you're doing is good experience and teaching you valuable lessons regardless of the outcome.

Make sure your travel arrangements give you enough time to get there. I stayed in a hotel the night before which made it much easier on the day, and I was also able to check out the route to the place I would need to go to the next day.

After the day I was offered a second interview but I had decided that this job wasn't for me so I declined. However it was a useful experience for me in many respects and I'm glad I went.

Local Government (Graduate Programme - Kent County Council)

Questions asked

Tests given

Group exercises:


Police (Intelligence Analyst - Metropolitan Police)

Questions asked

Competency-based questions such as: (Intelligence Analyst - Police)

Tests given:



Civil Service - Home Office

Questions asked

Tests given:



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