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24 Interview Questions for the Civil Service (With Sample Answers)

24 Interview Questions for the Civil Service (With Sample Answers)

When you interview for a job in the civil service, you should show that you have the right skills and want to help your community. If you want to work for the government or in your community, you should care about the goals of the group. Because of this, the interviewer may ask you questions to find out what kind of person you are and what skills you have.  24 Interview Questions for the Civil Service

This article shows you how to answer 24 of the most common questions asked at interviews for jobs in the civil service.

Sample interview questions and how to answer them

Here are some interview questions that civil service employers use to check your skills and knowledge:

1. Why did you want to work in this job?

Employers ask this question to learn more about what you want to do with their civil service job. This question helps them figure out if you want this kind of job for the right reasons. Think about what you want to do in a government job before your interview. Do some research to find out what the agency’s goals and mission are and how your own goals can fit into them.

Example: “Because I like to help people, I wanted this job. Since my first year of college, I’ve known that I want to help people through my work. If I worked for this government agency, I could help homeless people find the things they need. I think I’m the right person for this job because I’m good at talking to people and I care a lot about doing good work for the public.”

2. Do you know how to break bad news to people?

You can’t always make everyone happy when you work for the government. People have to hear bad news sometimes, like a cut in the budget or a change in how things work. Employers ask this question to make sure you can talk to people well enough to do the job. Use your answer to show that you can clearly explain your ideas and handle tough situations.

Example: “As a public defender, I always had to tell my clients bad news. Now that I’m used to it, my communication skills make it a lot easier. When I have bad news to tell someone, I try to explain what’s going on and give them a few options for how to deal with it.”

3.Are you good at putting in place new ways of doing things?

This question helps employers decide if you are a quick learner. Every once in a while, government agencies put in place new systems to make things run better. Show that you can quickly learn and use new technologies.

Example: “I’m sure that I’m a person who is open to change. I’m pretty good at setting up new systems and technologies. I want to learn how to do things better because I’m very curious.”

4. Can you work on more than one thing at once?

Because of limited funds and other problems, people who work for the government often have to do a lot of different things. Employers ask this to see how well you can decide what to do first. Talk about how you stay organized to show that you can deal with problems.

Example: “I’m used to doing more than one thing at the same time. I find that the best way to keep track of all my tasks is to keep an organized planner. Every morning and evening at work, I go over everything I need to do. I work on projects in the order that makes the most sense to me. I’m glad this system works so well for me.”

5. Tell me about a time you had to work with someone who was hard to get along with.

When you work for the government, you will meet a lot of different kinds of people. Employers ask this question to find out if you can get along with other people and solve problems. Use the STAR method to explain a situation involving a coworker who is hard to get along with. Set the scene, talk about the tasks, say what you did, and then talk about what happened.

Example: “When I worked for the Department of Natural Resources, I was put on a short-term project with three other people. Our job was to run a campaign to show people how dangerous climate change is. One of my coworkers was not happy to do this job, but I was. She always had something to say about everything she did.

I asked her if I could talk to her alone to figure out what was wrong. I told her in a nice way that her bad attitude made the rest of the team look bad. I offered to take over her part of the project if she wanted to do something else. She told him, “No, and I think she’d do better.” The campaign was a success because she changed her mind right away.”

6. How would you help a coworker who wasn’t doing well?

When you apply for a job in the civil service that requires you to be a leader, the employer may ask you this question to find out how you will help your team do well. Tell me how you would know there is a problem in your answer. Talk about what you would do to help someone get back on track.

Example: “I would first try to figure out where they are having trouble. I think a performance review is a great time to talk about how to get better. I would help my coworker set new goals during this meeting. After the meeting, I would look at how well they were doing again and have a follow-up meeting to talk about what they were doing well and what they could keep working on. I think that praise and feedback given on a regular basis can help someone get back on track.”

7. Tell about a time when you did something different.

When you work for the government, you are always looking for ways to help the people in your area. Employers ask this question to find out if you have the right experience. This is a great question to use the STAR method to talk about what you did in a certain situation and how it turned out.

Example: “In my last job, I helped the human resources department change their policy on harassment by working with them. I talked to an attorney about how this policy was written because I wanted to make sure it was legal. My team was happy when I made sure we did good work.”

8. How do you keep from being interested in too many things at once?

This is important for any job, but especially for people who work for the government. An interviewer might ask you this question to find out how you act with honesty and integrity. In your answer, tell them how you will find out about any new rules or policies.

Example: “I never get into these kinds of situations because I always try to do what’s best for the agency and the community instead of what’s best for me. I also pay close attention to any rules or policies my department has.”

9. Tell me about a time when you had to show how moral you were.

This question is asked by employers to make sure you always do the right thing. Use the STAR method to talk about something hard you had to deal with. You want to show that you will do the right thing no matter how hard it is.

Example: “Someone I used to work with was always late to work. Our manager gave this worker their last warning after yelling at them three times. One day, the worker was three hours late getting to work. They asked me to make something up for them. I told them nicely that it wasn’t my job to lie for them. They were let go the next day. I felt bad, but our department needed to find someone who would show up more often on time.”

10. Do you go the extra mile?

This is a question that employers might ask to learn more about how you work. Say that you are always willing to do as much as you can if they want someone who goes above and beyond.

Example: “Absolutely. I want to be successful, which is why I think over-delivering is so important. I want to show my team how good I am and make a difference. If I work harder than usual, I can do great things for myself and the people I work with.”

11. Do you feel at ease when you give talks?

Depending on what you do, you may have to give presentations to your team or to a group of people from the community. This question is asked by employers to see if you can speak well in front of a group. Talk about a time when you spoke in public and it went well in your answer.

Example: “Yes. I have spoken in public a lot, so I am pretty good at it. At my last job, I was in charge of running the department meeting. I was glad to take on this job because I knew my coworkers would be happier if they didn’t have to. I know how to get people’s attention and make sure they understand ideas and facts that are important.”

What do you do if you make a mistake?

Even if you make a mistake, you should try to find a way to fix it. Since many jobs in the civil service affect other people, employers ask this question to see how you handle making a mistake. Make it clear that you are paying attention and ready to act. Talk about how you try to get better by making mistakes.

Example: “Because of how this job works, I would try not to make mistakes in the first place. If I forgot something, I would take care of it right away and own up to my error. I would use my way of thinking, which is based on finding solutions, to figure out how to solve the problem. After I fixed everything, I would think about what I did wrong and learn from it.”

13. Where do you see yourself in five years?

This is a question that an employer might ask to find out if you want to work for the government in the future. It shows them how seriously you want to take on this kind of role. Talk about how you want to move up in this kind of job in your answer.

Example: “At this point in my career, I’m excited to become an associate in public health, but I hope to be a leader in five years. I see myself always working in public health, but by that time I hope to be a manager or supervisor of a department. I think I need to work on getting more skills and experience in this field right now. I want to show that I am ready to take on more responsibilities in the future.”

14. Do you have any questions for me?

At the end of the interview, the person in charge of hiring will likely ask if you have any questions for them. This lets them know if you are serious about the job or not. Have at least two or three questions ready to ask. Make sure these things haven’t already been talked about with the person in charge of hiring.

Example: “I’d like you to tell me about two things. Who am I responsible to? My first question is this. The second thing I want to know is if my job duties will change over time or not.”

Additional civil service interview questions

Here are some more questions you might be asked at your government job interview:

  • Give me an example of a time when you had to be very patient.
  • How can you help our department do a better job of serving the public?
  • Have you ever worked with people from the neighborhood?
  • How do you think of new things?
  • How would you help to make your workplace more diverse?
  • How do you make sure you’re getting your message across?
  • How can you make someone feel like you heard what they had to say?
  • How do you make sure people learn from what they do wrong?
  • Tell me about a time when you brought together people from different groups.
  • How do you like to work best?

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