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60 Questions You May Be Asked in Your Government Job Interview

Resource 60 Questions You May Be Asked in Your Government Job Interview

By Carol Mendelsohn

Preparing for a government job interview is probably one of the most important steps you can take towards building the career you want. Regardless of how much experience you have or how great a conversationalist you are, you should absolutely take time before a job interview to think through how you'd answer some basic questions. 

To help job seekers get a leg up during the interview process, we asked hundreds of public sector HR professionals to share their favorite interview questions they use to gain better insights into candidates. Here's a list of their top interview questions when they're evaluating someone for a government job at their agency. 

  1. Why do you want to work for this organization?
  2. Tell me about a time when public service impacted you. What did it mean to you?
  3. Talk about a time that your integrity was tested. What was the outcome?
  4. What's the greatest impact you had on your team.
  5. Tell me about a time that you were given feedback that was hard to hear.
  6. Tell me about a time when you met an obstacle and overcame it.
  7. Provide an example when there was a conflict you had to deal with and how you handled it. In hindsight, how might you have handled it differently?
  8. Tell me about a time when you recommended or implemented an innovative initiative or process. What did you recommend or implement? What did it improve?
  9. What do you need from us to help you grow?
  10. What does diversity and inclusion mean to you and how do you support it?
  11. What is the best thing you learned from a mistake that you made?
  12. What would your current supervisor say are your strengths and weaknesses?
  13. What is something you did in your professional experience that you are most proud of and why?
  14. What haven’t we asked you that you want us to know?
  15. What is our mission statement and what does it mean to you?
  16. What do you think you will enjoy most about this position and what will you least enjoy?
  17. What are your hobbies?
  18. What do you feel you can contribute to this organization?
  19. What interests you in public service?
  20. What do you like to do for fun?
  21. What motivates you?
  22. What’s something not on your resume that you are proud of?
  23. What makes you the best candidate for this position?
  24. What’s your greatest professional failure and what did you learn from it?
  25. What is your greatest accomplishment?
  26. What is the most difficult decision you have had to make in the last 6 months?
  27. What is the last book you read?
  28. What management style do you work best with and why?
  29. What do you bring to this position that no one else can?
  30. What would your subordinates or peers say about your work ethic?
  31. What is your passion and how would you use it in your job?
  32. What are your top 3 work values and why?
  33. What are the best opportunities for growth and development?
  34. What strengths would you bring to this position, if you were hired?
  35. What makes you the best candidate for this job?
  36. Tell me three things you’d want to do/have in your ideal job and why?
  37. Tell me a little bit about yourself from the perspective of your last boss.
  38. Tell me about a time when you faced a challenging situation and worked as a team to solve it.
  39. Tell me about the work project you are most proud of and why.
  40. Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an irate citizen. How did you deal with the situation?
  41. Tell me about a time you disagreed with your boss. How did you handle it?
  42. Tell me about a situation that went from negative to positive and describe the skills and leadership qualities you used.
  43. Tell me about specific actions you have taken to promote and maintain effective work relationships with your team members.
  44. How do you deal with difficult people?
  45. How many years do you believe will be necessary to accomplish your career goals?
  46. How would you incorporate equity and social justice into your role?
  47. How does this position align with your long term goals?
  48. How have you positively influenced a coworker?
  49. How do you approach a tough situation?
  50. How would you deal with a coworker who was difficult to work with?
  51. How would your co-workers describe you? How about your friends?
  52. How do you handle stress? What does stressed out look like on you?
  53. How do you attract top talent and keep them in your organization?
  54. How do you like to be managed?
  55. How do you stay on track with continually changing priorities?
  56. How long does it take you to reach out for help when you don’t know the answer?
  57. How would your children, siblings, or parents describe you?
  58. How do you prioritize your time in order to meet deadlines?
  59. How has your education and experience prepared you for this role?
  60. How would you describe yourself in one word


Carol Mendelsohn is the General Manager of and the Head of Marketing for NEOGOV, the applicant tracking system used by many local, county, and state government agencies. 

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