Skip to content

Careers Centre

Civil Service

Sector Overview

What is the Civil Service?




Entry points

Fast Stream

Fast Stream options

There are currently 15 different options:

Details of each of these fast track schemes is available from Civil Service Fast Stream.


Main Stream/Direct Entry/Professional Entry Routes

Civil Service roles vary greatly depending on the department to which you are assigned but you will be contributing to political affairs and working within a team to deliver a high quality of service. The range is enormous and covers any department which employs civil servants. Some of these jobs may be part of a graduate programme and most offer on the job training and a senior member of staff as a mentor. The Civil Service is committed to continuing professional development (CPD) and professional qualifications and has a policy of rewarding excellent service with promotion and/or pay increases.


Civil Service attributes/skills profile

Key attributes/skills needed for the roleWhere you could develop these skills or attributes while at university
Setting direction – having initiative and decision making ability Through life experience,  especially taking responsibility for your own decisions and making sure you take up opportunities available to you.
Ability to process large amounts of information quickly and be able to condense into key points Through academic studies, especially presentations.
Engaging people – ability to lead with conviction and enthusiasm. Have the ability to create and maintain positive, professional and trusting relationships with a wide range of people Going out of your comfort zone and being involved with people outside of your immediate circle. Through volunteering with SVS (St Andrews Voluntary Service) or local voluntary groups.
Delivering results – working to agreed goals and deadlines Achieving academic deadlines and taking roles of responsibility for university societies.
Strong communication & interpersonal skills

Many of these skills you will develop through your academic studies and extra- curricular activities.

CAPOD offers courses on these kinds of skills regularly within its Professional Skills Curriculum
Ability to organise time and work methodically whilst paying attention to detail
Leadership qualities and effective team working skills
IT Skills Using the  University’s subscription to the Microsoft IT Academy can help to develop your skills with programmes such as Excel.


Networks - why and how to use them

Why are networks important?

Where alumni work now

Your networks

There are several ways to make contact with alumni.


How to gain experience/internships

Comparatively few formal opportunities exist for working in the government service during the vacations. 

The main recognised internship opportunities are as follows

Other ways to gain experience


How to get a (graduate) job

Fast Stream

Qualifications required

Nationality requirement

You are eligible to apply if you are a:

You must be a British citizen to apply for some posts, particularly those related to security and intelligence. Check on the individual scheme pages.

Right to work requirement:

In addition to the nationality requirement, you must have the right to work in the United Kingdom. Eligibility requirements are explained in more detail in the Civil Service nationality rules.

Guaranteed Interview Scheme (GIS)

Under the GIS, if you have a disability and meet the minimum qualifying criteria for the scheme you're interested in, you can progress straight to the main assessment stages, missing out the behavioural questionnaire.


Main Stream/Direct Entry/Professional Entry Routes


Applications, interviews and assessment centres

Fast Stream deadlines

The process

Application stages

Useful resources


Relevant Postgraduate Study

Is it a requirement?

Although many successful applicants have postgraduate qualifications, these are not mandatory. The average age of a successful Fast Stream applicant is 26, therefore additional experience, alongside your undergraduate degree, is beneficial to your application.

For further information on researching and planning for a postgraduate qualification, please visit the postgraduate study page.

Key UK links and resources

Careers Centre resources



Use CareerConnect, your central careers hub, to:

Other resources

General Civil Service-related careers information

The EU

EU-sample tests

The European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) sample tests can give you an idea of the type of questions and level of difficulty you will face in a competition.


USA resources


The USA job market and recruitment timetables, for both internships and graduate jobs, for sectors of employment often differ from the UK.

The Careers Centre subscribes to the reputable independent USA careers information and vacancy provider Vault. The links below will take you directly to Vault subscription resources which cover this sector. You may find further useful and relevant resources linked from there as well.


Internships in the US - Civil Service

This list is by no means exhaustive. It is simply designed to serve as a starting point.