Job Interview Questions in the Government Sector

Many people dream about jobs in the government sector. Becoming a public employee is considered a sure way to a better work-life balance, attractive benefits and most importantly, job security.

As countless people are interested in getting employed by the government, the recruitment process can be quite competitive. Before you even get to the interview stage, you’ll have to make your resume shine. Check out our tips on how to stand out as a job seeker for general advice.

In this blog post we will discuss what kind of interview questions you should expect when trying to get jobs in the public sector. We’ll also tell you how to answer them to make a great impression.

1. Tell Us About Yourself

This is perhaps one of the most tricky interview questions asked during interviews not only in the government sector. It seems simple, almost like an icebreaker. 

And yet, you should consider interview questions and answers carefully. Already this question is a great opportunity to show why you’re perfect for the job.

In other words, your interviewer prefers to hear about your passion for hiking, only if it’s relevant to the job you’re being interviewed for. It may as well be, for instance, if you’d like to become a firefighter or police officer and being fit is crucial. 

Being able to summarise your career highlights to date in a linear progression, such that the role you are being interviewed for is a logical and relevant next step helps orient the interviewer – and potentially promotes a two way dialogue in subsequent areas of the interviewer’s key interest themes.

2. Why Do You Want to Work for the Government?  

Like in the case of any other workplace, the government wants to know why you want to work for them and not for someone else. The answer to this question is important because if you don’t really have a preference for a given place you’re unlikely to hang around for long.

You should also always keep in mind during the interview that you’re trying to make a good impression. Job security may be an important factor for you but it’s the reason why many people apply for jobs in the government sector. What’s your reason for wanting it? Think about it as this is a question you’ll almost certainly get during your interview.

You may also be asked more specifically about your reasons for wanting to work for the department or agency you’re applying for. Here, you should also have your reasons ready beforehand to avoid giving answers that may negatively impact your interview.

3. How Would You Explain the Position You’re Applying For?

A good list of tough interview questions and answers in the government sector can’t do without this one. Depending on the position, you may have to explain your responsibilities to others. In general, this question is aimed at trying to understand whether you really know the job you’re trying to get.

As a part of your preparation for an interview you should read about the particular department and your position. Share the highlights with your interviewer.
Earn some additional brownie points by showing that you not only understand the duties but also have the expertise needed to perform them.

4. Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

How to answer tough interview questions? Best answers to questions like this one are diplomatic. This one is designed to check whether you’re serious about the job, see options for yourself within the public sector and care about your career. 

In order to make your interviewer happy your answer should reassure them about the above. A good answer is one that tells them that you’d like to grow within the government sector and you see many opportunities ahead of you.

5. What Are Your Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses?

Your strengths shouldn’t be general traits that you like about yourself. They should be relevant to your professional life. Even better, they show how much of a good match you are for a particular department or agency. Never mention anything that could jeopardise your chances, not even as a joke.

When speaking about your weaknesses the key is to talk about something that you can put a positive spin on. Perfectionism is probably one of the most mentioned shortcomings during job interviews because of this reason.

Be honest but remember to avoid self-deprecation at all costs. Pretending to be humble creates a clash with you trying to sell yourself. You should be confident about your skills and ability to perform the job you’re applying for. At the same time, you should give an impression of someone who’s aware that, like anyone else, they have some flaws.

6. Why Are You Looking For a New Job?

Of course, the answer to this question differs depending on your circumstances. You may be a mother coming back to work after being a full-time caretaker, a fresh graduate on the lookout for their first job experience or someone who wants or needs a career change.

Whatever your motivation for being in the job market, be honest about it. However, don’t overshare. If the reason why you want to leave your current position is because you don’t like your boss, keep it to yourself.

Remember that negativity makes a poor first impression. Rather than focusing on the hardships of your situation, put the emphasis on your excitement about new challenges. Make it clear that there are reasons why you want to work for the government and not someone else.

7. How Do You Work Under Pressure?

While many jobs in the government sector don’t mean constant pressure, stress is a factor at work in any industry. The way you can work under pressure is important to your future employer. If you handle stress poorly you may simply not be suited to work in certain positions. 

Appearing capable is important but you shouldn’t boast when answering this question. Your interviewer is unlikely to expect an adventurer. All they want to know is that you’ll be able to still perform your duties when on a tight deadline or if difficulties arise.

8. Do You Have Any Questions?

Like with most interview questions, some research will help you answer this one. Asking questions that show your interest in your potential workplace are good signs for the employer. Never ask about benefits or salary only.

Nailing a Job Interview

These are only some government interview questions you may hear. And yet, they’re common so preparing how to answer them should significantly improve your performance.

Are you still unsure about your ability to perform well during an interview? You’re in the right place! Visit the “job seekers” section of our website to find out how our Senior Recruitment Team can assist you.

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