Career Pathways


The interview is your opportunity to share how your skills and experiences have prepared you to be successful in this role. Interviews take practice. If you’ve never interviewed before, explore the interviewing page to learn the basics of a successful interview.

Much like the private sector, government interviews come in all different shapes and sizes – one-on-one, phone, skype, group, project-based, etc. Depending on the size of the organization, you can expect one to two interviews before receiving a job offer. However, the hiring timeline for any government position (especially federal vacancies) can be longer than what you’re used to when interviewing in other industries. For example, most federal organizations strive to fill their open positions in 80 days or less. After you apply and the position closes, the agency should make a decision in 6 to 8 weeks. Complete the next steps after applying to help your chances of gaining an interview.

At the interview

Nearly all interviews contain two parts, common questions about your experience and situation-based questions to gauge your fit for the position. Afterward, you’ll be given the opportunity to ask questions of the interviewer.

While you cannot control the interview format or timeline, you can be prepared to speak about your relevant skills and experiences. Take some time to reflect on what you’ve done and how you can fill this organization’s need. Below are some sample interview questions that you might encounter during the job search:

  • In what other government agencies are you interested? In what ways do you prefer this one over the others?
  • Assume that you had limited resources. Describe how you would do more with less.
  • Describe a project where you used quantitative skills and data analysis to determine and recommend policy options, either in a workplace or school setting.
  • Describe in detail a project that you designed, implemented, evaluated and completed. How did you define and measure the success of this project?
  • Pick a state. Tell me the 5 most important policy problems in that state. Now pick one of the issues – what is the nature of the problem? What could be done about it? What information would you need to gather?
  • Tell me about a time you worked with a large data set. What was the project? What were the challenges?
  • What do you consider the most important issue in your policy area of interest and what approach would you take to begin the process of determining a policy direction or solution for the problem?


You’ll feel more comfortable during your interview with a little practice first. InterviewStream is web-based video interface that allows you to respond to a series pre-recorded interview questions from your computer. Afterward, you will be able to review your recording to see how you did.

To access InterviewStream, log in to your HireVCURams account and click the InterviewStream button.

Practice interviews

Got an interview coming up? Practice with one of our career advisers. Schedule a one-hour practice interview and we will show you how to answer likely interview questions and offer tips to help you make an excellent impression.

To schedule a practice interview, call 804-828-1645 or log in to HireVCURams. Be sure to bring your resume and a copy of the job description with you to your interview.