US Census Bureau Interview Questions

Updated May 3, 2015
158 Interview Reviews

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  1.  

    Survey Statistician Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Suitland, MD
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 6+ weeksinterviewed at US Census Bureau (Suitland, MD) in August 2012.

    Interview

    Applied online to pool in June. Called to schedule in person interview in August the following week. 5 person panel interview. All behavior questions. Apx. 1hr . Email response 2nd week of September.

  2.  

    Enumerator Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in New York, NY
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Easy Interview

    Application

    I applied in-person – interviewed at US Census Bureau (New York, NY).

    Interview

    Test site exam> 70% or higher is passing. But most people gets in with 90% or higher

    Interview Questions

    Negotiation

    No negotiation government limit

  3. Helpful (1)  

    Field Representative Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Boulder, CO
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Easy Interview

    Application

    I applied through a recruiter. The process took 4+ weeksinterviewed at US Census Bureau (Boulder, CO) in July 2012.

    Interview

    Talk to an HR representative who explains the position and asks about availability. Not many job-related questions. Then sets appointment date for a test that measures basic math, language comprehension, and map-reading. There were about 15 candidates at the test. After passing the test (same day), someone interviews you to see how well you can speak and follow directions. They also ask some personality-type questions.

    Interview Questions

    • Very organized group, make sure to have your paperwork in order prior to the test-taking appointment.   1 Answer

    Negotiation

    No negotiation since it's a government job.

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  5. Helpful (2)  

    Field Representative Interview

    Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    No Offer
    Neutral Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied through other source. The process took 1 dayinterviewed at US Census Bureau (New York, NY) in April 2012.

    Interview

    I worked on the 2010 decennial operation as an enumerator and enjoyed my experience. After the decennial operation was completed, I contacted Census to see if they had any other job openings, and was told that they were testing people for the position of Field Representative (this was in April 2012). Unfortunately, working on the decennial operation will not get you any special consideration or credit when applying for other Census jobs....the application process begins anew as if you'd never worked for them.

    The hiring processes for the Field Rep position begins with a basic skills test (28 questions with a 30 minute time limit). This test is very similar to the one that was given for the decennial operation. Unlike the decennial operation, the Field Rep test is not given a percent score, but is pass/fail.

    Next up is a mock interview. The applicant is provided a script to read from. This was easy so long as you followed all the instructions on the script. Some questions will instruct you to ask the respondent to spell their answer and the like. They want to see if you can pay attention to detail, and can follow instructions.

    After the mock interview, there is a short structured interview....5-10 minutes. The interviewer asked basic questions such as, "Tell me about a time that you needed to deal with a difficult person."

    You are also required to provide a resume. The skills test, mock interview, structured interview and resume are then all used to assign a score to the applicant.

    After completing all of the above, I heard nothing back from the Census. I had no idea if I was being considered for a job. After some months, I called to inquire about the status of my application, and was told that I was on their list of "qualified applicants" and that I would be called if they had any openings. I was also told that the applicant list was good for 2 years.

    Interview Questions

    • Tell me about a time that you needed to deal with a difficult person, and how you handled it.   Answer Question
  6. Helpful (5)  

    Mathematical Statistician Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Suitland, MD
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Easy Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 9+ monthsinterviewed at US Census Bureau (Suitland, MD) in March 2012.

    Interview

    As with any government position, it took an amazingly long amount of time between applying for the position and getting called in for an interview. They put me up in a hotel and paid for everything.

    On the day of the interview, my contact brought me upstairs and dropped me off with a higher-up for a quick interview. Then I interviewed with my contact and a supervisee. I did this process three more times in three branches (a total of five or six interviews for the day). I had started at 8:00AM and was out by 2:00PM.

    All of the interviewers asked very similar questions: coursework, ability to work in groups, statistical computing experience, major projects, and the like.

    Somewhere between four and five months later (remember: government) I heard back with a job offer. They paid for the entirety of my move and travel expenses. Other than the amount of time it took to make it through the entire process, it was fairly painless, and the people here are great. They are knowledgeable, helpful, and fun.

    Interview Questions

  7. Helpful (2)  

    Mathematical Statistician Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Suitland, MD
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Easy Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 1 dayinterviewed at US Census Bureau (Suitland, MD) in July 2011.

    Interview

    This interview was for a GS-1529 (Mathematical Statistician) position at Grade 9, Step 1. I submitted a formatted federal resume on USAJobs.gov in response to a listing, and was contacted by e-mail a few weeks later.

    My interview day consisted of three one on one interviews with branch chiefs (managers of approximately 5 to 15 people) among three different divisions of the Bureau, though I later learned that anywhere between three and six interviews is considered normal. Any of your interviewing managers may offer you a position with their branch, but you are most likely to receive an offer from the manager who initiated your interview process (normally the one who first contacts you to setup the interview). All of my interviews were casual, with no questions to evaluate my qualifications and only very friendly questions about my interests and plans. My advice for the interview would be to relax and demonstrate that you are easy to get along and work with.

    Regarding the office & culture, my impression is that they parallel closely the interview process. There are a great many people, but the atmosphere is casual (jeans and polos were common at one end of the spectrum, though suit & tie was also a well represented set).

    I received an offer from my initiating manager after about two weeks (quite fast for the federal government, really).

    Interview Questions

    • Where do you plan to be in five years?   1 Answer

    Negotiation

    The offer included a 20% signing bonus with a one year contract. I attempted to negotiate a higher starting step (i.e. pay level) with the HR rep who delivered the offer, but didn't make any headway against the "This is the official pay rate for someone with your qualifications" response. I've since learned that up to a 25% signing bonus can be offered, so I'd encourage you to try that if your base salary negotiation goes the way mine did.

  8.  

    Statistician Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    No Offer
    Neutral Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 1 dayinterviewed at US Census Bureau (Washington, DC) in June 2011.

    Interview

    They asked 10 questions, fairly standard. They wanted to know about experience with large data sets, which I didn't have.

    Interview Questions

  9. Helpful (3)  

    Field Representative Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Dallas, TX
    No Offer
    Neutral Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied through other source. The process took 1 dayinterviewed at US Census Bureau (Dallas, TX) in May 2011.

    Interview

    If you are interested in this kind of work, there is a number to call. You call and tell them you are interested.
    The next time they have a testing and interview session, they will call you to come in.

    I had my testing and interview session yesterday. It's important to get there early. Get there before the designated time. You want to be first in line to sign in. Interviews are done in the order that people sign in. If you sign in early, you should be able to complete the process in half a day.

    The first task is the skills test. You must pass the skills test. The test is pretty easy, in my opinion. Basic math, vocabulary, and map reading. It's pass/fail and they don't tell you your score. High scores don't seem to help. The only thing that matters is that you pass. The interview is the important thing.

    On to the interview. There are two parts to the interview, a simulation of the job tasks, followed by a structured behavioral interview.

    The simulated job task involves reading a series of survey questions, the same kind of questions you would read when visiting a residence to gather information. If you can read aloud, you should do well on this part of the interview.

    The second part of the interview was some fairly standard interview questions. I hated it, but I am terrible in job interviews. If you do fairly well in most interviews, you should do alright.

    Interview Questions

    • Have you ever had a job in which you had to deal with the public?   1 Answer
    • Tell me about a time when you persuaded someone to do something that they inititally did not want to do.   1 Answer
    • We all face rejection at times. Tell me about a time you experienced rejection and how you dealt with it.   1 Answer
    • Tell me about a time you had to deal with a very hostile person.   1 Answer
    • Tell me about a time that you failed to perform well on an important task and how you dealt with it.   1 Answer
  10. Helpful (2)  

    Field Representative Interview

    Anonymous Employee in Los Angeles, CA
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Easy Interview

    Application

    I applied through other source. The process took 1 dayinterviewed at US Census Bureau (Los Angeles, CA) in May 2011.

    Interview

    The interview consists of three phases:

    1. Aptitude test. Multiple choice, 28 questions dealing with math and clerical skills. The Census Bureau has a practice test that you can download to prep for the real thing. Pretty easy.

    2. Mock Interview: You make believe you are a census field representative, asking some typical questions and writing down the answers. I believe that this is just to see if you are capable of reading aloud in a coherent, intelligible manner.

    3. Structured interview. The actual job interview. After the interviewer reads your resume and application, he gives you a score based on the bureau's requirements for the job. He then asks you a series of scripted questions.

    I worked as a Census Enumerator during the 2000 and 2010 decennial census's, so I felt I understood the skill set they were looking for. Census workers get a lot of push back from uncooperative respondents, and the job requires a strong ego, persistence, persuasiveness and closing ability. If you've ever been successful in sales you should be able to handle it. However, many cannot and the Census Bureau has a high turnover of their field personnel.

    Overall I thought I did well. Unfortunately for me and other job seekers, the Census Bureau's budget was recently slashed by 25%, and Congress is likely to cut it more before the year is out. That's likely to put a big dent in their hiring plans.

    Interview Questions

    • "Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a hostile person, and how did you handle it?"   1 Answer
    • "Tell me about a time when you tried to do something and failed. How did you react to it?"   1 Answer
  11.  

    Crew Leader Assistant Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Charleston, SC
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Easy Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 2+ monthsinterviewed at US Census Bureau (Charleston, SC) in February 2011.

    Interview

    I applied for the job as an enumerator online through a job site, though I don't remember which one. About a month later I got a call to come and take a test, and was given a choice of dates, times and locations. I took the test that was super simple math and reading questions. They were for me anyways. I didn't hear back for another three weeks and had pretty much wrote the job off. Then they called and said that I had made a perfect score and wanted to know if I would be interested in being a crew leader assistant. The only thing that they asked was my availability and if I had dependable transportation.

    Negotiation

    There was not much negotiation. For the area I lived in I was happy with the pay rate and glad that they included generous compensation for mileage.

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