US Department of State
3.8 of 5 279 reviews
www.careers.state.gov Washington, DC 5000+ Employees

US Department of State Interview Questions & Reviews

Updated Apr 13, 2014
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Getting the Interview 

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2%

Interview Experience 

79%
14%
6%

Interview Difficulty 

60 candidate interviews
Relevance Date Difficulty
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Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Intern Interview

Anonymous Employee

I applied online and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at US Department of State in April 2014.

Interview Details As everyone says, the online application is a little tedious, but not as bad as some of the other government agencies. However, make sure that when you do it, you set aside time and energy to make the online application as efficient/effective as possible. I was told that my "Statement of Purpose" answer was the reason I was selected for an interview. I used an introduction explaining (in a concise way) my desire to give back to my country and then gave 3 bullet points on my most marketable skills for the State Department. I then added a conclusion and finished by saying that I looked forward to being giving the opportunity to prove my worth.

I was contacted about 4 weeks after the job posting closed and asked to do a phone interview a few days later. The interview itself was only 15 minutes and very simple in structure. The interviewer spent the first 5 minutes telling me about the office and what I could possibly be doing. Next, she asked me to talk about myself. It's best to talk about your strengths and why you are interested in that exact office. Also, it doesn't hurt to reinforce that your aim is to work for government/give back to your country. The last 5 minutes was an open Q&A. I made sure to ask one or two questions directly related to what the interviewer explained in the first 5 minutes. The interview finished and she explained that I would be sent an email in about 3 days regarding the position. 3 days later I was offered the position by email. There was no face-to-face contact through this process.

Interview Question – Nothing difficult, but rehearse what you want to convey. Time is limited. Try to avoid any negative language/vocabulary.   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – N/A. The position is unpaid.

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Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Consular Adjudicator Interview

Anonymous Employee
Washington, DC (US)

I applied online and the process took 11 months - interviewed at US Department of State in June 2012.

Interview Details I found a position on USAJOBS.gov. I applied, passed an initial stage, and then passed an initial language stage. Afterwards, I was told to prepare the e-QIP security clearance application and flew to Washington DC for an interview. The entire process took 6 months.

The interview actually takes up about an entire day. The morning section consisted of tests, then a formal interview. Once I got the results, I came in for the afternoon for the language test. After I passed that section, I had to complete the rest of the security protocols.

Interview Question – Most questions revolve around the skillset that the position required. There were no out-of-the-blue questions.   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – There was no negotiation phase as I was only offered a conditional offer. A complete offer was only after a successful security clearance and suitability phase which I did not pass.

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Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Intern Interview

Anonymous Employee

I applied online and the process took 4 weeks - interviewed at US Department of State.

Interview Details I applied online in the autumn for a summer internship. The online application is extensive and time-consuming. A few weeks later I got an e-mail requesting a phone interview with the specific office that was interested in my application. It was a little bit difficult to schedule the interview, as I was in California and the Embassy was in Europe, so it was a little tough to find a time that fell within normal business hours in Europe and waking hours in California.

When the actual interview came, the discussion focused primarily on my previous experience. I felt that confident answers and speaking well were two things that helped during my interview. My interviewer also liked to see writing experience, particularly with deadlines and concise style. Customer service and the ability to work well with others and as a team also seemed to be pluses. Leadership, communication, and social skills were points of emphasis.

I didn't face too many tough questions-- mostly about why I wanted the position, why I chose my field of study, why I requested the particular office and position I selected, what my strengths are, etc. I was also asked things like if I would be comfortable finding my own housing in a foreign country if necessary and other such things related to accepting an overseas internship.

Soon after, my interviewer requested another phone call. I was prepared for another round of interviews, but after a few short questions they offered me the position. I accepted and it was one of the most enriching and rewarding experiences of my life.

Interview Question – There were a lot of questions on self-evaluation-- How would you rate your language skills? How would you describe your communication style? How do you envision this internship contributing to your long-term goals?   Answer Question

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Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Very Easy Interview

Econ Analyst Interview

Anonymous Employee
Tel Aviv-Yafo (Israel)

I applied online and the process took 2 months - interviewed at US Department of State in April 2012.

Interview Details I had to fill out a long government form. I also had to take a writing test. Once the form is filled out you are in a pool and can be called for future positions.

Negotiation Details – N/A

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Accepted Offer

Neutral Experience

Political Analyst Intern Interview

Anonymous Employee

I applied online and the process took 3 months - interviewed at US Department of State.

Interview Details You apply by submitting the application on the USAJOBS website. Be sure to include some of your personal interests in your cover letter because they can be the deciding factor in the selection process. My boss picked me instead of the other candidates because we both liked to watch movies, so he knew we would get along well.

During the interview there will be the standard questions (Tell me about yourself, tell me about a time when you had to overcome adversity, tell me about a time when you had to do a research project).

Interview Question – What are your biggest strengths   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – It is an unpaid internship, so it was pretty quick.

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Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Mechanical Engineer Interview

Anonymous Employee
Arlington, VA (US)

I applied online and the process took 9 months - interviewed at US Department of State.

Interview Details Via networking, I was told of an announcement on the Department of State's website for a mechanical engineering position. I followed up and submitted all the paper forms via fax to the HR office. About two months later, I was called by the HR person asking for verification that I was a veteran (I am a Vietnam veteran with honorable discharge). That was sent in and then I had to complete a length security questionnaire. Once that was sent in, then it was another two months waiting for a decision. I was told it was a lower salary that I was making, and I had to justify the salary for this position, based on years of experience in this industry. Finally, I got a written offer from the HR office and I accepted.

Interview Question – I was told by my first supervisor that I was on a one-year probation, and that during that time I could be fired for anything that he felt was justified.   Answer Question

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Accepted Offer

Neutral Experience

Easy Interview

IT Specialist Interview

Anonymous Employee

I applied through a staffing agency and the process took 2 months - interviewed at US Department of State in August 2013.

Interview Details There are a ton of ways to enter in to Department of State.

Negotiation Details – It was Federal interview process with a guaranteed placement.

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Accepted Offer

Neutral Experience

Foreign Service Officer Interview

Foreign Service Officer

Interviewed at US Department of State

Interview Details I was selected as a Pickering Fellow and was not required to take the exams until after I entered the service. It took me three tries to pass the FSOA. Don't go in thinking it will not be a challenge. Eat a healthy breakfast and get a good nights rest. Probably the most challenging day in your profession.

Interview Question – Unfortunately, I signed a non-disclosure agreement and agreed not to disclose.   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – No negotiation, they calculate your experience by what you put on your resume. Be exact and include volunteer experience!

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Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

IT Specialist Interview

IT Specialist
Washington, DC (US)

I applied online and the process took 6 months - interviewed at US Department of State in September 2011.

Interview Details Visit USAGov site to determine if there are any openings. If so, the job seeker will need to submit an online application. If the application is approved, the job seeker will be invited for a comprehensive test/interview. If all goes well, a security background investigation and medical physical will also be required before any formal job offer is made

Interview Question – The questions range from: history, politics, current events, to situational scenarios where the applicant is given the opportunity to explain how they reacted to certain events. Scenarios may be driven by the specialty desired or general experience.   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – Very automated (with set parameters) and based on one's experience level.

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Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Contract Specialist Interview

Contract Specialist
Washington, DC (US)

I applied online - interviewed at US Department of State in March 2012.

Interview Details Apply through USA Jobs. Phone Interview and possible face-to-face interview.

Interview Question – Subject specific.   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – It depends on your education and experience. Salary is not negotiated. There is a GS pay scale that employees fall into.

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