Human Resources Office
Prepare for an Oral Interview
  1. Obtain a copy of the examination announcement and the classification specification (available from the California Department of Human Resources web site). Study both the examination announcement and the specification and be prepared in the interview to:

    1. Explain the duties, functions, and responsibilities of the position/classification.
    2. Match education and work experience to the examination for the classification and the knowledge and abilities listed in the “scope” for the oral examination.
    3. Provide examples of personal or special characteristics, such as, willingness to accept increased responsibility and ability to work under pressure.
    4. Discuss education, work record, self-development, job knowledge, training, interpersonal skills, adaptability, and/or supervisory experience (if applicable).

  2. Research the classification, office, and/or department. Read laws, policies, reports, pamphlets, news accounts, budget and manuals.
  3. Review all the job descriptions for this class throughout the Department.
  4. Break down the duties listed on the job description into smaller tasks and try to match your experience, knowledge, and training to these tasks.
  5. Write out answers to the most obvious questions that could be asked by interviewer as the result of breaking down the tasks in step #4. (Please see sample questions provided below)
  6. Participate in practice interview sessions, with co-workers, family members, friends, supervisors, and/or managers.
  7. Practice asking and answering questions with a recorder.
  8. Get plenty of rest the night before the interview.
  9. Dress appropriately for the interview. Check your local library for books on how to dress for success.
  10. Arrive at the interview at least five minutes early to avoid the risk of being late.

If you prepare for your interview according to these suggestions, you will greatly increase your chance of making a good impression.


During the interview presentation

  • exhibit confidence and enthusiasm
  • control nervousness
  • be aware of body language and speech
  • sit comfortably in the chair and avoid fidgeting
  • face each panelist as he/she asks a question
  • look at all panel members when responding to questions 
  • use the pronoun "I" rather than "we" when telling the panelists about your work experience 
  • avoid negative terms such as "only" or "just" as they may have a minimizing effect on stated skills, education, and experience
  • speak loud enough so that the panel members can hear
  • support statements with examples
  • offer examples without being asked
Panel Evaluation

The panel will assess the candidate's presentation on the following:

  • ability to analyze situations and take an effective course of action
  • responses to the structured questions
  • ability to understand the questions being asked
  • ability to communicate
  • ability to answer questions directly
  • breadth and depth of the information provided concerning the candidates skills, education and work experience
  • knowledge of the classification
  • display of genuine interest and enthusiasm for working in the classification
  • attitude and aptitude for accepting increased responsibilities
  • ability to relate experience to the promotional level
  • flexibility and adaptability of responses

The following are sample questions that may be asked in an oral interview. If you are prepared to answer these questions clearly and completely you will feel confident about your presentation.

  1. Please explain your experience, education, and training that has prepared you for this classification.
  2. Describe the steps you would take to prioritize your work?
  3. Describe how you would a handle an irate customer.
  1. Describe the steps necessary to conduct a survey?
  2. What basic steps would you follow to solve a problem?
  3. Describe the steps necessary to complete an issue paper.
  4. Define the term "completed staff work".
  5. What steps would you take to prepare an oral presentation to management?
  1. What would you do with an employee who is habitually tardy?
  2. What steps would you take to train an employee?
  3. How would you present a policy that you did not agree with to your subordinates?
  4. As a supervisor, what can you do to provide a work environment free from sexual harassment?
  5. Describe a supervisor’s role in the collective bargaining process.
  1. As a manager, what is your responsibility in achieving the Department’s equal employment opportunity goals?