Applying for a Government Job

Applying for a government or public sector job is very competitive. Governments typically hire and promote workers based on the equal opportunity principle. To compete for jobs in government, the focus on hiring and promoting workers is based on knowledge and skills. The government must treat everyone equally; it must be apolitical.

Here are tips to get a job in the public sector:

Job Announcement

  • Read job announcements carefully and note application deadlines.Usually, the selection process is three parts: written test, oral interview and job interview.
  • Pay special attention to the job requirements. Application approval depends on how well the job requirements are supported during the application process.


  • Read and answer online application questions carefully and answer accurately as possible.
  • Keep your contact information current.
  • Provide specific work experience: job title, employment dates, salary, and accomplishment statements (say how much and how well you did things).
  • Provide detailed education information: school, degree,units completed, date of graduation, and degree major. Proof of completion is required.

Written Test

Read the test information carefully noting dates.
Invest time by preparing and studying for the test. Note the specific requirements for the test within the job announcement.
Understand the testing process, timeline, and what is expected during each step in the process.
Result of the test takes time – have patience.
Probability of being hired depends on the test score. The higher the score, the better the chance of being hired.
Offer of employment is based on many criteria. A passing score on the test is just one requirement for employment.


The job announcement will indicate if the written civil service test (or examination) is on a pass/fail basis or graded.If you pass the written test, the next step is an oral interview. The job interview selection process is based on both the test and oral interview. There are times when both parts are weighted equally (50% written and 50% oral) and at times the oral interview determines the job interview selection process. Obtaining good scores on the test and oral interview is imperative to the job interview selection process.

Applicants invited for an oral interview are those whose test scores are ranked the highest. Therefore, one recommendation is to obtain a test preparation book for the written exam. A test preparation manual can be obtained at the public library, through, or a bookstore. The test preparation book will provide the various study topics prior to taking the test.


The next step in the application process is an oral interview. Those applicants, who ranked the highest on the written test, are invited for an oral interview. A grade is given to applicants after the oral interview, and once again, the applicants are ranked. Those applicants who score the highest on both the written test and oral interview are offered a job interview.

Following are tips for an oral interview.

Prior to the Interview

Obtain a copy of the job announcement or “class specification” and compare your qualifications and experience to the description. Be prepared to answer questions based on your qualifications and experience in relationship to the job requirements.
Review your submitted application prior to the oral interview. Be prepared to answer questions based on the application. Do you have gaps in your employment that need to be addressed?

Review the organization’s website. Self-confidence during the interview is exhibited when you have knowledge of the organization.

Obtain sample interview questions and practice prior to the interview. Interview questions are readily available through the Internet, public library, or bookstore.

Dress appropriately. Plan your wardrobe that fits the organization and its culture. LOOK PROFESSIONAL! Wear clothing that fits and is clean and pressed. Don’t wear perfume! Don’t chew gum. Arrive early for the interview; at least 15 – 30 minutes.

During the Interview

Interviewers are limited in the time with each applicant. So, come prepared with an opening and closing statement. Answer questions clearly and concisely; don’t ramble.
Ask to repeat the question if you don’t understand what the interviewer is asking. Don’t answer a question you don’t understand.

Tips for the job interview

Applicants asked for a job interview are those where their eligibility list ranking is high enough to be considered and there is a vacant position. (The eligibility list ranking is based on the grades received on the written test and oral interview.) If you receive a notice to appear for a job interview it is best to be prepared. The oral interview tips apply to the job interview. Also, the following tips are noteworthy.

The people interviewing you for a government or civil service job are NOT the same people who interviewed you for the oral interview.

Make extra copies of your job application to provide to the interview board. If you have writing samples or other examples of relevant experience this would be the time to present them. Be prepared to discuss specific experiences to demonstrate you are the best qualified candidate.

Send a thank you note to the interview committee within one week of the interview.