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How To Ace A State of California Job Interview


So, you've found your perfect State of California job. You meet the minimum qualifications, you've submitted a great application and you've been invited for an interview. Now what? The interview is the final step in the hiring process, and the last hurdle to landing a great job. Taking some time prepare can go a long way in improving your odds of getting the job.

  1. All jobs you apply for should have a duty statement attached to the job posting. If there isn't one, you can request it from the department advertising the job. Read the duty statement and identify how you've completed these tasks in the past. The questions in the interview will be directly related to the type of work described in the duty statement. Remember to think broadly about when you've done the type of work listed. It can be from school and volunteer work as well as regular employment.

  2. Provide a resume to each of the panel members. The people conducting the interview will likely be your supervisors if you're selected for the job. You can submit a resume when you first apply for a job, but the Human Resources analyst evaluating your application packet might not even look at it. If they do, they're likely not in a position to make any hiring decisions. You want your resume in the hands of the people doing the interview and that have a direct impact on whether or not you're selected. Give panel members a resume in the interview and it will have much more of an impact.

    For a more detailed description of what a great State of California resume should look like, check out our post on How To Write a Great State Resume.

  3. Dress nicely. Although the State's hiring process is designed to be neutral and merit-based, it's impossible to remove biases completely from the process. First impressions count, so look sharp. You feel more confident when you look good too, and confidence is important for interviews.

  4. Smile, make eye contact and be friendly. The people on the interview panel will most likely be your supervisors or co-workers if you're selected. The content of the interview and your ability to perform the job are important, but panel members are looking for somebody they can see themselves working closely with five days a week. Pay attention to presenting yourself as someone that is easy to get along with. You want to present your accomplishments and ability well but remember that they wouldn't have invited you for an interview if they didn't already know you were qualified.

  5. Be prepared with answers to some of the more general interview questions, like: "What would your last supervisor say about you," "Name one of your strengths and one of your weaknesses," "Tell us about yourself." Questions like these come up in interviews and State employers often like to pepper them in with the more technical, job-related questions. Have positive answers ready to go.

  6. It's OK to take a pause and think before answering. When you're on the spot the silence may seem awkward, but it's not. Interviewers know it is a high-pressure situation and appreciate people that have the composure to gather their thoughts and provide clear, on-topic answers.

  7. Have questions you want to ask, and a closing statement written down before the interview. In uncomfortable situations like job interviews, people tend to forget the things they want to say. It's usually OK to take a notebook or a portfolio with notes written down into a job interview.

  8. Have a start date in mind. If the interview panel asks when you'd be available to start if you're selected, make sure you have a firm date in mind. They don't want to hear you say that you don't know.

  9. Have a closing statement ready for the end of the interview. This is a good opportunity to tell the panel why their department is special and why you want to work there. You don't have to gush, but interviewers like to hear that there is a special reason for why you want this job. If you tell them that this is just one of 10 interviews you've had this week, it makes them fear that you're always chasing another opportunity. Tell them the reason you're going after this particular position. It'll make you seem grounded and the kind of person that is going to stick around for the long-haul.

  10. Think of interviews as an opportunity to grow and improve. When you're actively looking for a job with the State of California, you might have to go on 15 interviews before you get a job offer. This is normal. Don't be discouraged by rejection letters. Think of interviews as a chance to perfect your skills. Interviewing is a universally hated practice, but you have an opportunity to get better and more confident with each one. Stay positive, think of each unsuccessful interview as a chance to hone your ability. It'll work out eventually.

Thanks for reading!


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