How to prepare for a government interview

Preparing for an interview in the field of politics or government can be a daunting task, but with the right approach, it can also be an exciting opportunity to showcase your knowledge and skills. 

There are a wide variety of roles within the field of politics and government, including elected officials, political staff, public relations officers, legislative and legal officers and civil service officers. 

While the the actual roles and responsibilities will vary depending on the organization and position, the skillset for government roles will include a strong knowledge of policy and current events, communication skills, leadership and teamwork, analytics, strategy, and development.

Before the interview, take some time to familiarize yourself with the organization or agency you'll be interviewing with. Look at their mission statement, goals, and recent projects or initiatives. This knowledge will not only show that you are prepared and interested in the opportunity, but it will also give you a better idea of what kind of questions you might be asked.

Below are a few interview questions to help prepare for your interview.

Interview preparation questions:

Here are a few interview preparation questions to practice

  1. Why are you interested in working in the field of politics or government?
  2. Can you tell me about a specific experience or accomplishment that demonstrates your qualifications for this role?
  3. How do you stay informed about current events and policy issues?
  4. How do you handle difficult or conflicting opinions in a professional setting?
  5. How do you prioritize and manage your workload in a fast-paced and high-pressure environment?
  6. Can you give an example of a time when you had to work with a team to achieve a common goal?
  7. How do you approach problem-solving and decision-making in your work?
  8. Can you describe a time when you had to adapt to a new or unexpected situation?
  9. Can you give an example of a time when you had to handle a sensitive or confidential matter?
  10. How do you approach working with elected officials or other high-level government officials?
  11. How do you approach communication and relationship-building with stakeholders and colleagues?
  12. How do you see yourself fitting into the mission and goals of our organization or agency?

* Tips on answering these questions: align your experience to the attributes listed on the job posting and/or company culture and values

Questions to ask your interviewers:

The type of questions you may want to ask will depend on who is interviewing you, or which round of interviews you are currently in.

  1. What are the biggest challenges facing the organization or agency currently?
  2. How does this role contribute to the overall mission and goals of the organization or agency?
  3. What are the biggest accomplishments the organization or agency has achieved recently?
  4. What are some of the unexpected realities of working in government? 
  5. What common characteristics have helped people at this level quickly succeed and reach an outstanding performance? 
  6. Can you tell me about the opportunities for growth and advancement within the organization or agency?
  7. How does the organization or agency support professional development and training?

It's important to ask both open-ended and specific questions, and tailor them to the specific role and organization you are interviewing for. Remember that this is also an opportunity for you to gauge if the position and organization is a good fit for you.

Interview follow up:

They say small kindnesses never go unnoticed and this is particularly true when it comes to interviewing.

A simple thank you email to your interviewer goes a long way to cementing you in their minds long after your interview is over. Your email could be as simple as thanking the interviewer for their time, or mentioning a particular part of the interview you enjoyed. This would also be a good opportunity to extend your interest in connecting via Linkedin. 

Your interviewer will generally set the expectation for when you can expect to hear back from them. If nothing is set, a good timeframe for a follow up is two weeks after the interview.

Checklist for the day of your interview: 

  1. Get a good night’s sleep - This allows your body and mind to recharge, leaving you refreshed and alert when you wake up, ready to ace your interview!
  2. Start your day with breakfast - You might find you feel a bit sluggish and struggle to focus if you don’t. Breakfast positively affects your mental performance, including your attention, ability to concentrate and memory. Skipping the most important meal of the day can make some tasks feel harder than they normally would.
  3. The dress code for government jobs, in most cases, will be professional and conservative. With this in mind, it’s always better to overdress, rather than underdress. Comfortable clothing will also help you feel confident during your interview. 
  4. Leave your house early - Proper planning will help you arrive on time for the interview and eliminate any last minute stress.  Double-check the interview location and your best route to get there. If you’re driving there yourself, it’s a good idea to consider where you might park.
  5. If you are having an online interview, remember to log on early and test your setup. You should check your connection, camera and microphone, as well as ensuring your background or environment is free from clutter and distractions.
  6. Follow in Superman’s footsteps! Before you go into the room or join your call, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, place your hands on your hips, and breathe deeply. This is the Superman pose, which is designed to regulate breathing, clear your mind, and calm your nerves. You'll feel like you can conquer anything and it's a great way to prepare for professional success.

Now that you’ve just taken your next steps towards succeeding in your career, be sure to take a look at the Wizco Blog for more insider tips and tricks and walk into every growth opportunity prepared.