Resource 7 Questions To Ask in Your Government Job Interview That Will Make You Stand Out page has loaded. Resource 7 Questions To Ask in Your Government Job Interview That Will Make You Stand Out page has loaded.
 Click here or press any key to continue.

7 Questions To Ask in Your Government Job Interview That Will Make You Stand Out

Resource 7 Questions To Ask in Your Government Job Interview That Will Make You Stand Out

By John Calderon

Asking follow-up questions during a job interview is key to showing that you have given thought to what the job entails and how you might fit into an organization’s ranks. This is just as true for government agency jobs as it is for the private sector. A few thoughtfully posited questions after the main portion of the interview will impress your interviewer, and may also give you excellent insights into the agency’s culture and style.

Here are 7 example questions you can use for your government job interview that will make you a more memorable candidate and give you a feel for whether it’s the right agency for you.

  1. Can you tell me about the dynamic of the team? The best questions you can ask during an interview will achieve two things -- they provide additional perspective that can help you evaluate the opportunity should you get a job offer, and they also demonstrate to the hiring manager that you are a team player. This question, for example, can uncover whether or not the team works well together, how big the team is, while also displaying a willingness to collaborate on your part.

  2. Where does this team’s work fit into the overall organization’s mission and goals? This question shows that you recognize the importance of mission in a public sector organization and that you are eager to work cross-functionally with other employees to achieve the agency’s goals. This can also be an opportunity to convey your passion for contributing to achievement of the mission, even if the role is far removed from the actual delivery of services or support. The ability to find meaning in a position - even if it's entry level or on the front lines - is a trait that managers value. 

  3. How would you describe the agency’s culture? There is a wrongly held assumption that government agencies don't have corporate cultures, but that's absolutely not true. Every organization has a culture that is defined by a multitude of factors. The way an agency is run by its leaders, how decisions are made, the manner in which employees interact with one another, and how they are treated by their managers has a massive influence on the overall office vibe and level of employee morale. These intangible factors all contribute to the success of the organization and the happiness of its employees. Gaining an understanding of the culture will also help determine if the agency would be a good fit for your needs, and it demonstrates that you're a discerning job seeker that is also interviewing them. Furthermore, expressing interest in the intangible dynamics of the workplace is an indicator that you are likely to contribute in a thoughtful, positive way to the agency’s culture.

  4. What do your training and onboarding process look like?  Training is vital to success for certain roles, and asking about this during the interview stage shows you are thinking long term about ensuring you'd be successful if hired. Even if you possess the critical skills and experience required, there are always new processes and different approaches to solving challenges that come with joining a new organization. So, asking questions about how you'll learn the ins and outs of the agency and the role is one method for evaluating whether the agency prioritizes setting up new hires for success. It also sends a strong message that you're already considering the impact you could have and that you'd expect them to support you with the right resources. 

  5. What can you tell me about _____? I saw it on the agency website and would like to learn more. This question allows you to gain more knowledge about some of the programs and initiatives that are central to the agency, and also shows the hiring manager that you did some research on the agency and spent time perusing the website. Coming to an interview with the right skillset is table stakes, but you’ll really stand out if you show that you are interested in specific initiatives or processes and how they may relate to your role. Devouring the website or other official documents put out by the agency will make you look prepared and excited about the role.

  6. Is it correct that the agency spends $____ of its budget on ________, and why is that? This will give you some transparency on where the agency allocates its money and why, which will give you a greater understanding of the agency’s overall mission. Asking questions about the budget will demonstrate not only your attention to detail, but also your desire to learn more about how the agency operates beyond what your job role would be. This type of mindset shows that you understand you're a cog in the wheel of a larger organization but that you're invested in the big picture. 

  7. If hired, what will I need to accomplish in order to be seen as successful in the first six months? This gives your interviewer the opportunity to share either some specific projects on deck for the new hire, or more generally what they're seeking in terms of a personality or working style. Depending on the role and interviewer, they may even divulge some tangible metrics that you’ll need to meet, which you'll want to contemplate should you be offered the job. Either way, it will demonstrate that you are already envisioning how you can contribute to the organization after being hired -- something many candidates don’t talk about until they’ve officially gotten an offer.


John Calderon is the Content Strategist at and NEOGOV, the leader in developing cloud public sector human capital management solultions. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of California, Los Angeles and has spent over a decade creating content as a marketing professional and journalist.

Sorry. Nothing to print