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Working For The U.S. Civil Service  
User currently offlineLouis From Canada, joined Oct 2005, 0 posts, RR: 0
Posted (15 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 1437 times:

I was wondering if there is anyone out there who has worked or is working for the U.S. civil service at any (municipal, state or federal) level. I have an interview on Tuesday with a department within a municipal government and I’d like to know the questions they ask when interviewing, the things they look for when hiring someone, etc. I had an interview with the U.S. Department of Education back in August, but unfortunately I didn’t land that job. How is working for a municipal government different than working for the federal government? Would the interview processes be any different? What about on what they look for? To tell you the truth, I don’t think I have a chance in hell with this job, but I’m going to give it my best shot. I really want this job.

As well, if any of you have worked or are working in the civil service, I’d like to know if they’re good to work for and how it’s different from working in the private sector.

Thanks in advance,


2 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineSEVEN_FIFTY7 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 957 posts, RR: 4
Reply 1, posted (15 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 1427 times:

Louis, it's all about testing, testing, testing, aka "open competitive exams." I don't know about any other municipality or state, but I once went for a Department of Labor (New York State) position. This was a phase I open competitive exam with about 1,500 other applicants. I believe even though it was posted as "open competitive," you still had to have had a bachelors degree by the date of the exam, and be able to prove it. I passed, then went on to phase II. Here, you had to score a certain percentage to be passed on to phase III. Although many weeks later I found out I made a "good" score of 88.9%, that still wasn't good enough, apparently. Some parts of the test were personality-oriented, some parts communication-oriented, some "general-knowledge", and some quantitative. The exam contains some traditional multiple choice questions as well as some bizarre "follow the directions then answer" intructional inventories. It didn't really seem that hard to me, yet I still didn't pass on.

I found later that some of the most innocuous and seemingly-obvious questions are the ones that they want you to answer a certain way. The most "obvious" answers aren't necessarily what the testers have in mind, depending on the particular position you're going for.

I did, however, work in quasi-governmental research institutes, which are probably easier to get into since they are not as competitive and they focus mainly on interviewing rather than on lengthy testing (although some tesing IS involved, it's not to the extent as regular civil service positions.) Also such institutes, "authorities," or "commissions" might even pay you much better albeit with less benefits.

I know for the U.S. Govt, there's also a very lengthy application process, as well as testing for certain "GS" levels for certain "appointments". (At least this is how it used to be. It could've changed by now.)

I encourage you to check the library for reference books that detail ways of securing government jobs. They have loads of info. Also check the net if you haven't done so already.

PS., I'll also add you to my respected users list as soon as I find out how to do so.

User currently offlineLouis From Canada, joined Oct 2005, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (15 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 1419 times:

Thank you very much for the detailed response. It answers many of my questions. Actually, it’s funny that you mention that federal government positions require some form of testing. When I had my interviews with the Dept. of Education, I never took any tests or such. There wasn’t even any hint of taking any sort of exam. So perhaps it has changed since then. In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that my GPA wasn’t as high as their ultra-high requirements (and yes, they were that high!), I’d probably be back in D.C. now.

The position I am interviewing for is with the City of New York with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). I have rummaged thoroughly through their website and all they say is to send your resume and cover letter. The person I’ve been corresponding with at the OMB has not mentioned or hinted about the need to take any sort of exam – he just mentioned the need to schedule interviews (or in my case, telephone interviews). So maybe it has changed at the municipal level as well. At least I hope so. I don’t live in New York and can’t afford to fly down there just to take a series of tests or have a series of interviews that don’t necessarily guarantee you anything. Been there, done that and failed miserably.

As for doing research on these agencies, it will be difficult from my position. I don’t live in the U.S. right now and information about the U.S. civil service is scant at best. And of course, you know how meagerly informative each agency’s website is regarding employment. Even so, still no mention of exams; at least in the positions I’ve been applying for. They do mention exams regarding other positions. I’ll still try my best.


P.S. Thanks for adding me on! Here’s how you do it: log in to your profile; after that, scroll down and you will see an option where you can fill in names of users that you respect or whatever (right about the passwords); then update your profile and voila! BTW, looks like you’re the first to add me on anyone’s respected list!

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