Hannah Lynes

Interview questions for policy roles

Woman at job interview

Are you applying for a policy-related job? Feeling anxious about whether you’ll have the right answers to the interview questions? Worried your mind will go blank at a crucial moment?

In my pre-motherhood years, I attended lots of interviews for policy roles. I always worried that I wouldn’t be able to think of the right example at the right moment and so I got into the habit, after each interview, of writing down all the questions I was asked so that I could use them to prepare for future interviews.

I recently had reason to dig out my list of questions and I realised that I’ve been sitting on a really valuable resource that could be useful for lots of other people. So I’ve decided to share my list of questions here so that you can benefit from it too. I think if you can answer all these questions then you’ve got a good chance of landing that dream policy job!

  1. Why do you want to work at…?
  2. Why this job?
  3. What relevant experience/skills would you bring to this job?
  4. What skills would you need to develop further to do this job?
  5. Why do you want to leave your current job?
  6. What is good and bad about your current job?
  7. Where do you want to be in 5 yrs time?
  8. Tell us three examples of how you have incorporated equal opportunities into policy development
  9. Tell us about key policy issues affecting … at the moment
  10. What are the key challenges in relation to … at the moment
  11. Tell us about the direction … (subject area/industry e.g. healthcare regulation) is moving in at the moment
  12. What’s the most difficult management situation that you’ve dealt with?
  13. Tell us about a time where you have influenced government policy
  14. Tell us about your experience of influencing policy
  15. What is policy work?
  16. When have you been involved in developing a new policy?
  17. Tell us about the importance of networks to policy-making and how you would develop networks
  18. Tell us about a time when you’ve managed a team to deliver a piece of work.
  19. What’s the hardest advice you’ve given a senior colleague?
  20. When have you worked in a team to solve a problem?
  21. When have you been in a complex meeting where your contribution made a significant difference?
  22. When have you taken a decision without perfect information?
  23. When have you challenged a process?
  24. When have you analysed complex information?
  25. When have you overcome opposition within the team?
  26. How would you go about building relationships with internal and external stakeholders?
  27. What is (organisation you’re applying to)’s role in this field?
  28. Who are our main partners in this work?
  29. How do you manage time and balance competing priorities?
  30. Are you good at saying no?
  31. What’s your management style?
  32. Give us an example of when you’ve dealt with a difficult person or difficult people
  33. Do you have any questions for us? (can be v important – don’t forget)

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