US Department of State
US Department of State Interview Questions & Reviews
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Intern Interview (Positive Experience; Average Interview)
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
Political Analyst Intern Interview (Neutral Experience)
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.
Mechanical Engineer Interview (Positive Experience)
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
IT Specialist Interview (Neutral Experience; Easy Interview)
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.
Foreign Service Officer Interview (Neutral Experience)
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!
IT Specialist Interview (Positive Experience; Difficult Interview)
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.
Contract Specialist Interview (Positive Experience; Average Interview)
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.
Foreign Affairs Officer Interview (Negative Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through other source and the process took 8 months - interviewed at US Department of State.
Interview Details – Interviewed through PMF program process. Interview was with three members of the hiring office and questions were a mix of testing technical knowledge and gauging my ability to fit in with the rest of the team. Questions were not particularly difficult, and it seemed like a premium was put on my fit with the "office culture".
Hiring was a PAIN. I was offered the job in June, and didn't start until the following February due to background investigation and a candidate with veteran's preference challenging my hiring. If you are trying to get hired for a job with a TS clearance, you may be waiting a long time. Process was also very opaque - they were really not able or willing to tell me anything other than "wait a bit longer, we will definitely bring you on, just be patient". To their credit, they did come through in the end.
Interview Question – Questions were all pretty expected - most had to do with my graduate research. Answer Question
Negotiation Details – Non-negotiable (defined by PMF program)
Intern Interview (Neutral Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through an employee referral and the process took 4 months - interviewed at US Department of State.
Interview Details – I initially filled out the online application. I was later contacted by a bureau coordinator and did a phone interview. She asked me about my strengths, weaknesses and why I wanted to work at State. Nothing out of the ordinary
Interview Question – Why are you the best candidate for this position? Answer Question
Student Assistant Interview (Positive Experience; Easy Interview)
I applied online and the process took 3 weeks - interviewed at US Department of State in April 2013.
Interview Details – Emailed resume, called in for interview, sent on fingerprinting and drug testing, interviewed and called back week later to see if I would like the job.
Interview Question – What do you expect of Management? Answer Question
Negotiation Details – Management asked if I would except the position at a certain amount of money with no benefits, there was no negotiation.
Interviews for Top Jobs at US Department of State
See What US Department of State Employees Are Saying
Pros: “Depends on where you're posted. My internship at a "cushy" posting had great work-life balance. It was also helpful to see what a FSO does day to day while also exploring a new country…” “Depends on where you're posted. My internship at a "cushy" posting had great work-life balance. It was also helpful to see what a FSO does day to day while also exploring a new country. Also great to have on your resume.” – Full Review