Common Civil Service Job Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 29 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When interviewing for a civil service role, it's important to show the hiring manager that you have the intentions and skill set to help people in need. The ideal candidate for community or government jobs demonstrates a commitment to the goal and vision of the agency where they're working. That's why hiring managers may ask you questions that test your qualifications and character. In this article, we share several civil service job interview questions with sample answers.

Common civil service job interview questions

Here are some common civil service job interview questions a hiring manager may ask you:

  • What's your ideal working style?

  • Tell me about a time you helped two groups of people get along.

  • How do you help other people learn from their mistakes?

  • How would you help a member of the community feel heard?

  • What are your strategies for communicating effectively with community members?

  • How would you support a diverse work environment?

  • What steps would you take to develop a unique solution?

  • Do you have experience working with community members?

  • How would you help the organisation better serve the community?

  • How do you increase your patience level in challenging situations?

Related: 4 Situational Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

Interview questions with example answers

Here are a few interview questions hiring managers may ask to evaluate your civil service knowledge and skills:

Why did you apply for this job?

Hiring managers ask this interview question to find out what motivated you to apply for the role. This interview question can help them determine whether you're getting into this type of occupation for the right reasons. Before the interview, consider reflecting on your goals for a career in government. You can do a little research to find out the mission or goal of the organisation and how you can align your own career goals with it.

Example: "I applied for this job because I'm passionate about helping people who are in need. Ever since I was an undergraduate student, I'm certain I wanted to devote my career to the greater good. Working for this organisation would give me the opportunity to help homeless individuals. I feel like my commitment to civil service and my communication skills make me a good fit for this role."

Related: Interview Question: "Why are You Interested in This Position?"

How do you deliver difficult news?

When working as a civil service employee, you can't always please everyone. Sometimes, it's necessary to break news about things such as policy changes or budget cuts. Hiring managers ask this interview question to determine if you have the communication skills necessary for the role. Consider using your answer to show hiring managers that you can clearly communicate your ideas and effectively address challenging situations.

Example: "I would bring my team together and state the bad news. I would clearly explain to them why it occurred and what steps we can take in the future. I would also open it up to the team to discuss their concerns, respond to their questions and share their perspectives to determine how we can prevent it from happening again."

Are you good at implementing new systems?

This interview question can help the hiring manager determine if you're a quick learner. Government agencies regularly implement new systems or technologies to make things more efficient. Thus, explain to them that you can adapt to new systems and catch onto things immediately.

Example: "I would definitely consider myself as a person who is open to change. I'm good at implementing new technologies and systems. As a very curious person, I'm eager to learn better ways of working."

Related: 40 Top Behavioural Interview Questions (with Example Answers)

Do you have the ability to manage multiple projects at once?

Because of limited funding and other challenges, people in government positions may juggle many different responsibilities. Hiring managers often ask this question to determine how you can prioritise your work. To answer this question effectively, discuss how you stay organised, making it clear you have the ability to take on challenges.

Example: "Yes, I'm quite used to having several tasks going on at once. I find the best way to manage several tasks is by keeping an organised planner. At the beginning and end of each workday, I review everything I need to do. I complete projects in order of urgency and importance. I find this system works quite well for me."

Tell me about a time you had to work with a difficult colleague.

When working for a government organisation, you're going to interact with all types of people. Hiring managers often ask this interview question to determine if you have the interpersonal skills to resolve any challenges with coworkers. To answer this interview question effectively, consider using the STAR method to discuss a situation with a challenging colleague. Make sure to frame the situation, outline the tasks, describe the steps or actions you took to address the situation and then discuss the results.

Example: "When I was working at the Department of Natural Resources, they assigned me to a short-term project with two other people. Our primary duty was to implement an awareness campaign that helped the public understand the dangers of climate change. Although I was excited to perform this task, one of my colleagues was not. He always complained about every step of the process.

To address the situation, I talked to him privately. I politely let him know that his poor attitude was affecting the rest of the team. I offered to take over his part of the project if he wanted to do something else. He said no and that he would do better. His attitude immediately improved, and we successfully implemented the campaign."

Related: 7 Personality Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

How would you help an underperforming coworker?

When applying to a civil service job the requires some leadership skills, hiring managers may ask this interview question to determine how you can help your co-workers succeed. To answer this question effectively, explain how you would determine there is a problem. Consider discussing the steps you would take to help a coworker get back on track.

Example: "The first thing I would probably do is help them identify what areas they're struggling in. I find that a work performance evaluation is a great time to determine areas for improvement. I would use this meeting to help my coworkers set new goals. After the meeting, I would review their work performance and then schedule a follow-up meeting to discuss their strengths and the areas they need to improve. I think that providing regular feedback and praise can help someone get motivated again."

Discuss a time you implemented a change.

When working in a civil service role, it's important to think of ways to make things better for your community. Hiring managers may ask this interview question to determine if you have relevant work experience. To answer this interview question effectively, use the STAR method, discussing how you contributed to a specific situation and what the outcome is.

Example: "In my previous job, I helped the HR department adjust their policy on harassment. I wanted to ensure this policy aligns with the law, which is why I asked the help of a lawyer to review the language. My team was happy that I verified we were doing great work."

Related: Interview Question: "What Can You Contribute to the Company?"

How do you prevent conflicts of interest?

Although you want to prevent conflicts of interest at any job, this is especially true for employees working for government organisations. Hiring managers may ask this interview question to determine how you act with honesty and integrity. To answer this interview question effectively, explain how you keep up with any regulations or policies.

Example: "I would prevent conflicts of interest by always striving for what's best for the organisation and community instead of what's best for me. Also, I make sure to follow any regulations or policies that my department has carefully."

Related: Earn Respect With 7 Conflict Resolution Strategies for Work

Tell me about a situation that challenges your ethics.

Hiring managers ask this interview question to determine if you can make ethical decisions. Consider using the STAR method to discuss a challenging situation you overcame. Demonstrate to the hiring manager that you can do what's right, even if it's the more difficult choice.

Example: "There was a time when I was working with a co-worker who frequently came to work late. After the company's manager warned them three times, he gave this employee their last warning. One day, the employee was two hours late for work. They asked me to do them a favour. They wanted me to cover for them with a lie. I told them politely that it's not my role to be deceitful for them.

The company let them go the next day. Though I felt bad, I believe it was necessary for the company to look for a professional who's more dedicated to their job."

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