There are a few ways that a Federal job interview differs from that in the private sector.
- You will probably be faced with a panel interview (generally a panel of three or more). Be prepared for three sets of eyeballs as opposed to one staring at you. The interview is a test and it will most likely be formally scored, especially if you are interviewed by a panel.
- You may encounter behavior interview questions. These are questions that start with the phrase, “Describe a time when…”. The panel will attempt to determine if you are a good fit for the agency, based on your responses. These questions allow the interviewer to explore your past behavior and probe into your responses. The interviewer is looking for a story with “Goldilocks” detail (just enough, but not too much).
- Research the Department/Agency, its mission, and the unit in which you are interviewing. Find out what they do and how they do it. All the information you need is on the web.
- Find out as much information as you can about the interviewers. How will you know who will interview you? When an interview is extended to you, ask who will be interviewing you. Go to your social network and find out about them. Remember, you have a short amount of time to build report with the interviewers. Do your research before the interview and use your findings to leverage relationship-building in the actual interview.
- Prepare your responses in advance. Some typical questions might be: