Interview: Tips & Advice


"Be aware of the challenges that local government faces and prepare well at the final stage, by researching each individual council careful. Specific knowledge about the authority you are interviewing is essential for success. Be enthusiastic and passionate about the job too, but try not to look artificial."
Graduate, London
"It is absolutely essential to: research thoroughly what local government is, what the difference between local authorities is (i.e. district and county councils), and what the challenges facing local government are. Also research the specific councils you end up having interviews at: having sat on the interview panel for new graduates, those who had obviously researched local issues, strategies and programmes stood head and shoulders above the rest."
Graduate, Gloucester
"Be yourself and be confident! Focus on the organisation's values and how they align with your individual goals."
Graduate, London
"Research the city when you are called for an interview, and understand the corporate aims and what it is trying to achieve."
"It's a long process, and very competitive, but that makes it better when you get through at the end. Applications in my year involved an application form, online tests, an assessment centre and then interviews at the individual placements. Do your research, both general awareness of the public sector for the assessment centre and then specific background knowledge for the interviews. Practise for both!"
Graduate, London
"Positions are advertised online, some are open to everyone, some are only for externals. The application form is generic to the level of the position that you are applying for and not the role itself. Successful candidates are then asked to interview. Candidates should seek a conversation with the person advertising the job: having a five or ten minute chat will allow you to understand the job requirements far better than reading the job spec."
Entry level, Chichester
"Do your research when you are applying: issues affecting local government, structures, political influence of different areas and decision making processes."
Graduate, Dacorum


"Research the issues currently facing local government at a national level and think carefully about the reasons why you want to pursue a career in local government."
Graduate, Ipswich
"My advice is that candidates should learn about local government, and be interested in the changes that are taking place and on the horizon. Additionally, gain some experience or work in a political environment so that you're aware of the challenges this poses, and to be able to discuss how you would deal with this."
Graduate, Halifax
"Know your motivation for applying to local government. Understand the differences between different types of council and the different services they provide (e.g. there is little point going to a lower-tier district/borough if you want to get into Adult Social Care)."
Graduate, Dorking, Surrey
"Thoroughly research the public sector, local government and how it works, the services it provides and the challenges it faces."
Graduate, Nottingham
"Develop an understanding of the Borough and its needs/demographics. Be passionate about helping the local residents. Have an understanding of how Local Government works and the wider political context. Plus, be very familiar with the person specification for the role as this will normally form the basis of the interview."
Entry level, London
"Read up on the history and context of local government so you can fully understand how local services have evolved to the scale they have today and gain an understanding of how they will need to change in the future."
Graduate, Leeds
"Make sure you are aware of the challenges facing local government as a concept, as well as the local issues for the councils you interview at. Be able to articulate your motivation for joining the public sector in challenging times."
Finance, Graduate, Selby
"Read up on all the literature available on the website; think about challenges to the organisation and the nature of their work and why this might be difficult in the current climate."
Graduate, Surrey
"In the final stage of the application process, it is important to be able to show not only your interest in being on the NGDP and working in local government, but also your interest in working at that particular council. I think it's also good to show an enthusiasm for working in different areas of local government, rather than only working in a particular service such as adult social care."
Graduate, London
Our 'Inside Buzz' reviews are the comments and views of recent graduate recruits, giving you a view of what it may be like to work for an organisation. Copyright of all TARGETjobs Inside Buzz material lies solely with GTI Media.