It may be tempting, after making it through the online application process and being scheduled for an interview to think that your government job is close to being in the bag. Sure, take a moment to celebrate making it through the first round (it’s a feat worthy of celebration), but keep your eye on the ball; interviews are exceedingly important for closing the deal. Consider it the last stage of the assessment process.
While federal government interviews vary in length and format, we’ll cover all the ins and outs (and do’s and don’ts) to help you be as prepared and as confident as possible.
Prepping for your interview
It takes diligence, persistence, and a lot of preparation time to put your best foot forward during interviews, but it is well worth the effort. Hiring managers and other interviewers want to be impressed and want to spend their time in good conversation with people whom they’d be comfortable working with and who can do the job.
Do your homework
You can find out nearly everything you need to know by doing an Internet search on your government agency; you may also be able to find info on the people who will interview you. Get to know the mission and the challenges of the organization. Prepare thoughtful questions to ask your interviewers.
Mock interview prep
The level of confidence you project is almost as important to your interview style as the answers you give. If you’re a nervous wreck when it comes to interviews, don’t worry. A little practice goes a long way.
In addition to being prepared by learning the background of your agency and the people who will be interviewing you, mock interviewing is a great way to build up your confidence. Try having a friend who is in HR or who normally conducts interviews (in any sector) do a mock interview with you a few days in advance. Prepare standard answers to questions like the following:
•Why do you want to work with this particular agency? Answer this by being honest and informed about the agency mission and the skills, interests, and objectives you have that can be put to good use at the agency.
•What makes you a good candidate for this position? Answer this by reviewing the requirements for the position as listed in the job announcement or collected through informational interviews or online searching.
•Can you walk me through your resume and employment history? Answer this by picking up on themes from your past and drawing parallels to what you know about the position for which you are interviewing. Again, review the job announcement!
Before you go
The worst thing that can happen is to get this far in the process and then have something go wrong that you could have prevented. Here are some tips to make sure you are completely prepared for your interview:
•Identity the actual place you need to be on interview day as best you can (but know that sometimes security access or timing of receipt of information can often derail this type of prep).
•Do a dry-run commute to the interview location (as much as it’s logistically possible). Federal agencies often have offices in multiple buildings close together.
•If you can’t get to the location in advance, at least use a reliable Internet map tool or estimate your public transit time needs so you have a realistic commuting schedule in mind in advance.
•Give yourself more time than you think you’ll need to arrive at the interview. It’s always better to be early than just in time or, even worse, late.
•Lay everything out the night before: government-issued ID (for example, your driver’s license), directions, extra copies of the resume you used to apply to this job, attire (see the following section), a list of names of the interviewers (if provided in advance), and any other notes you’ve made.
•Review your answers to standard questions and practice with a friend or family member
Get the rest of the tips at http://gogovernment.org/how_to_apply/next_steps/interviews.php