How to answer government job interview questions

How to answer government job interview questions

How to answer government job interview questions

Excelling in an interview requires solid preparation. Here we delve into how to answer government job interview questions.


What can you expect in a government job interview?


If you apply for a job with the NSW government, your application will go through a suitability assessment.

As part of the suitability assessment, two capability-based tests must be completed. The first is the interview. The second assessment might include psychometric testing.

In addition to your interview and second assessment, the hiring manager will also:

      • Screen your application for essential requirements, such as a license or qualification
      • Review your resume
      • Complete referee checks.


Types of questions in a government job interview


Government interviews typically follow a standardised format, including a mix of situational, behavioural, knowledge-based, motivation-based, and technical questions.

Expect some questions that address your decision to work in the public sector as well as some focused on your skills, experience, and character traits that could make you suitable for the position.


Motivation-based questions


      • Why do you want to work for the government/public sector?
      • What’s your understanding of what we do?
      • Where do you see yourself within the department?
      • What can you bring to this job?


Technical questions


      • What online resources do you use to help you complete your work?
      • How would you explain [software] to a person with limited tech skills?


Situational questions


      • Tell me about an initiative that we could undertake in our department.
      • Can you tell me about a time when things didn’t pan out as you expected, and how you got back on track?
      • Tell me about a project or passion you have worked on in your spare time.


Behavioural questions


      • How do you like to set and work towards goals?
      • How do you reconcile working on a policy that may not align with your own personal values?


Knowledge-based questions


      • Name one initiative this department has been involved in.
      • What do you think are the big challenges facing this sector right now?
      • How would you brief a department leader on policies?


How to answer government job interview questions


In our blog, Preparing for NSW government interview questions, we discuss the types of NSW government interview questions you might be asked as well as how you might answer them.

The STAR method for interviews is a great technique to apply. This is particularly helpful to answer situational or behavioural questions.

STAR is an acronym that helps you structure your response to a question. It stands for:

      • S – Situation – Provide context and set the scene.
      • T – Task – Describe what needed to be done and why.
      • A – Action – Explain your response, highlighting teamwork or leadership.
      • R – Result – Describe the outcome, highlighting achievements.


Example answer


Now, let’s tackle an example.

Let’s apply the STAR method to the following question, “Tell me about a time when things didn’t pan out as you expected, and how you got back on track?”

      • Situation – At my previous workplace, revenue was falling. Our team was aware that if profits did not increase, we were at risk of some redundancies being made.
      • Task – My goal was to raise revenue by 10 per cent in a four-month period. I intended to reach this goal by offering new incentives and trialling a new attraction strategy. I set out to prove that if we invested in this new approach, we could continue to raise revenue year-long.
      • Action – I completed market research to understand our competitors and what attraction strategies they were using in the market. I  set up a meeting with a consultant to understand new incentives we could offer and how we could rework our attraction strategies. I then rolled out this new plan with the support of my team.
      • Result – We were able to attract five new partners, which increased our profit margin by 7 per cent in four months. While I did not reach my ambitious goal, I was able to prove a new investment strategy for the department which we rolled out. By year-end, we saw a 20 per cent increase in revenue.


Need more help learning how to answer government job interview questions? Reach out to the MCR team.

Related: How to use the STAR method for interviews, Preparing for NSW government interview questions, Job interview tips: Make an impression,