10 Civil Service Interview Questions and Sample Answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 27 July 2022 | Published 19 July 2021

Updated 27 July 2022

Published 19 July 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 you're called to a job interview for a role in the Civil Service, you need to be able to demonstrate to the interviewer that you possess all the right skills and values required for the job. The ideal person for a Civil Service position is committed to upholding the values and standards of the Civil Service. For this reason, the interviewer may ask you questions to gauge who you are as a person and test your character. In this article, you can find 10 common Civil Service interview questions and sample answers.

10 sample Civil Service interview questions and answers

Here are some sample Civil Service interview questions that interviewers are likely to ask, along with sample answers:

1. Why have you applied to this role?

This is a common question to be asked in a Civil Service job interview. Employers ask this to find out exactly why you want to work for them and what your intentions are for the role. Asking this question helps them determine if you are getting into a Civil Service career for the right reasons. Before your interview, make a list of your goals within your future career. Do some research to find out the goals of the department you've applied to within the Civil Service, and see how you can align your goals with theirs.

Sample answer: 'I applied to this role because I have always liked helping other people. Working in this role would enable me to help local people and point them in the right direction of the resources they require. I think my strong people skills, work ethic and ability to be sensitive and understanding make me a great fit for this position.'

Related: How To Answer the Question: "Why Do You Want To Work Here?"

2. What skills and experience can you bring to the role?

This is a typical ice breaker question the employer asks to see what value you can bring to the role with your skills and experience. Make sure you read the job description thoroughly, especially the part where the employer describes the ideal candidate. Align your own skills and experience with what the employer has written and provide examples to back up what you are saying.

Sample answer: 'I have strong customer service skills, thanks to my experience working in a call centre for two years. In this role, I received great feedback from customers and even won two awards for my customer service skills. I also have great administrative skills and am qualified to use a range of systems and software packages.'

Related: What Are Hard Skills and Soft Skills?

3. Can you work well under pressure and manage several tasks at once?

Since funding can be limited, people who work in Civil Service positions tend to juggle several tasks at once. Employers ask this question to gauge whether you can manage a high workload and stay focused under pressure. Try to think of examples of when you have worked well under pressure and demonstrate this to the interviewer.

Sample answer: 'Yes, I can work well under pressure and juggle several tasks at once. In my last job working in a call centre, there were many occasions when we were short-staffed and I took on the role of two or three people. When a colleague quit unexpectedly, I took on her workload as well as my own and managed to stay calm and focused whilst doing so.'

Related: The Art of Multitasking: Definition and Examples

4. Tell me about a time when you had to work with a challenging colleague.

This Civil Service interview question will probably come up if you have applied to an authority role in Civil Service. Employers want to find out whether or not you have the interpersonal skills required to resolve an issue with another colleague in a diplomatic and positive way.

Sample answer: 'In my first job as an office administrative assistant, a colleague consistently showed a negative attitude towards a project we worked on together. This brought the whole team down.

To solve the situation, I asked to speak to her privately to ask what was wrong while showing understanding and empathy. She opened up to me and explained that she could not handle the workload of the projects. I offered to take over her portion of the project if she wanted to work on something else. She said yes, and we did this for a while until she felt ready to return to the project team. Once she did, she was more positive and full of ideas.'

Related: Question: 'Tell Me About a Time You Had a Conflict at Work'

5. Tell me about a time when you demonstrated consideration towards equality in the workplace.

In a Civil Service job interview, this question has become more common. The interviewer wants you to demonstrate how you have taken disability, religion, race or sexuality into consideration within a professional setting.

Sample answer: 'When I worked in the call centre, my supervisor assigned me to the task of helping to recruit new employees. After conducting several interviews, I knew who the ideal candidate was for the job. However, she had a disability and used a wheelchair, and the only way to access the office was via some steps at the front of the building. I discussed this with my supervisor and he agreed to install a ramp beside the stairs. This ensured that the woman could access the workplace with ease and the employer became more inclusive in the process.'

Related: 9 Sample Diversity Interview Questions and Answers

6. Tell me about a time when you implemented a change.

Employers in Civil Service jobs ask this question to see if you have relevant experience for the role. It will also show them whether or not you are proactive and passionate about making a difference. Try to think of examples in which you have made a difference or changed something in a previous role and explain how this happened.

Sample answer: 'In my last role, I recognised that the computer software we used was old and dated, so much so that it was slowing everything down. I approached my manager and suggested a new software to use which would speed up the entire process. My suggestion was taken into consideration and the company switched to that software a week later.'

Related: 11 steps for implementing change (plus importance and tips)

7. Tell me about a time when you have successfully dealt with a conflict of priorities.

This Civil Service interview question may come up in a job interview for an office-based role. Employers ask this to see if you know how to prioritise tasks with confidence. You should demonstrate your way of thinking when you dealt with this issue and explain why you made the decision you did.

Sample answer: 'In a previous job, I was chosen as project lead for an important task. However, I was still responsible for overseeing and maintaining the work done on a previous project. It became difficult to successfully manage both at the same time. I contacted my supervisor for a meeting where we both agreed on a schedule for me to continue working on both projects. I ended up winning an award for my work.'

Related: What Are Conflict Resolution Skills?

8. Are you skilled at learning new things quickly?

Starting any new job requires you to learn about new systems, protocol and how things are done in general at the organisation. A job in the Civil Service is no different. You should be able to show the interviewer that you are a fast learner.

Sample answer: 'Yes, I'm a very fast learner. In my last job, I learned how to use the new software and systems fully within a matter of days. I tend to pick things up very quickly. If there is something I don't fully understand, I will always dedicate extra time to learning this.'

Related: How To Effectively Emphasise Being a Quick Learner at Work

9. What are your biggest weaknesses?

This Civil Service interview question tends to come up in lower band Civil Service jobs, but it can also come up in interviews for positions with high responsibility. List your weaknesses and decide on the ones that would have the least negative impact on the role as your answer to this question. Some character traits you might consider to be weaknesses could be considered as strengths to the employer.

Sample answer: 'One of my biggest weaknesses is that I'm a perfectionist. When completing a task, I can't rest until I feel like it's been done right and to the best of my ability. I tend to put my all into everything I do, which can sometimes be detrimental to completing the task on time. I overcome this by setting strict deadlines and knowing when good is good enough.'

Related: List of Weaknesses: 10 Things To Say in an Interview

10. Do you have any questions for me?

At the end of a Civil Service job interview, the interviewer will probably ask you if you have any questions for them. They use this question to see how interested you are in the role. Prepare at least two or three questions in your head, but make sure the topics haven't been covered already.

Sample answer: 'Yes, I have a couple of questions I'd like to ask. Firstly, is it likely that I will have the opportunity to progress within the organisation over time? Secondly, who do I report to?'

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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