Working for municipality is a popular job choice all over the world. You do not have to be afraid of  losing your job, just because your employer struggles with money, or because one of the managers does not like you and decides to terminate your contract.

What’s more, there are rarely any deadlines to meet in the municipality. And even if there are some, meeting them isn’t pivotal, and you will enjoy relatively low stress levels in your job. Clerical work is rarely stressful, to say the least.

On the flip side, you will typically compete with many applicants for the position-which makes your situation more difficult in the interviews. Preparing for the questions you may face, you improve your chances of standing out and succeeding. Let’s have a look at them, one by one.

 

Why do you want to work as a city clerk?

Your real reasons are obvious for everyone (safe job, low stress levels, decent salary), but you should at least try to convince the hiring committee of something else, some noble reasons.

Say that you excel in administrative work. You can typewrite quickly, are skilled with popular office software, can prioritize your work, and have outstanding listening skills.

What’s more, you care for the future of the city. At the end of the day you are also a citizen, and you know that the work they do on the municipal level impacts everyone who lives in the city. You want to contribute to good work, which eventually means contributing to a better life of all citizens. Hence you see some meaningful purpose in the job, and won’t go to work only to earn money.

 

Can you tell us something more about your previous working experience?

Explain how what you did before relates to the municipal clerk job. Any office or administrative work is relevant. You can name some duties or responsibilities you had in your past job, and explain how they prepared you for the things you’ll do for the municipality.

And if you are just starting out–experience is not necessarily required for this position, ensure them that you know what they expect from a good clerk, and feel ready to deliver. You can say that you did a lot of clerical work at school–while preparing for lessons and exams, and do not see a reason why would you not do well in the job.

What do you do to eliminate the mistakes in your work?

It is pivotal to keep accurate records about the citizens, and events that happen in the city. You cannot just write what you want, or feel like writing in the records. Though it would be fun to do so :).

You can start by saying that you try your best to stay focused. Avoiding looking at your smart phone, or getting distracted in any other way, you give your full attention to a task at hand. It’s hard to make a mistake with such an attitude.

What’s more, you double check all important records, and if you aren’t sure about something you hear or write down during the meeting, you have a courage to intervene and ask the person to repeat it–even if it is the city governor. Feel free to suggest any other ways of minimizing the number of mistakes you make in work.

 

What do you consider your biggest weakness when we talk about clerical work?

You have a few options for a good answer. One is referring to lack of experience. While you believe to have the skills and the right personality for the job, you know it will take some time until you master all your duties.

Second one is saying that you do not believe to have any major weakness as a clerk. You have other weaknesses–cannot manage a team, for example, or poor sales skills, and that’s one of the reason why you opted for a clerical career, and not some other, better paid options. Because you have what it takes to be an excellent clerk, but perhaps not an excellent manager.

Another option is saying that you do not know, and have to wait a few weeks to tell. Just like everyone else, you are sure you’ll struggle with some tasks in the beginning-or at least won’t be as fast as you’d like to. But you are ready to dig deep and work on your skills, and eventually improve in everything you do.

 

This job is quite monotonous. How do you plan to stay motivated?

Again you have several ways of convincing the interviewers that you won’t just hang around and yawn in work after a few weeks, once the initial enthusiasm falters, and you find the job repetitive.

First one is referring to your preference to routine and monotonous jobs. You aren’t the most creative mind in town, and prefer to have your daily routine. It’s fine for you to take care of the same tasks every time. It’s easier on the mind, and once you leave your comfortable chair in work, you can forget everything immediately, and focus on your family, or on the life outside of work.

Second option is saying that you do not consider the job repetitive. Sure, you will do the same things, but you will deal with different people and documents. And since you like to talk to people and are interested in their life and will lead conversations in work (of course when your duties allow you to), you should always find something interesting in your daily hustle.

 

With whom will you share sensitive information about the citizens, or anything else from the documents you work with?

In reality you may talk about such stuff with your wife (or husband)–it’s too interesting to not mention it over a dinner, or a couple of beers, and why would you not confide in someone you trust?

When interviewing for the job, however, and with all data protection regulations we have in place in third decade of 21st century almost all over the globe, ensure the interviewers that you can keep your mouth shut, and plan to do so.

Certainly if a law enforcement officers knocks on your door, or someone from FBI, you will share the information with them–about everyone. Other than that, however, what is said and written in your office stays in your office. That’s the attitude they seek in a good job applicant for a city clerk position.

 

Other questions you may face in your municipal clerk interview

  • What do you want to accomplish while working on this clerical position? What goals will you set for yourself in work?
  • How do you imagine a typical day in this job?
  • Tell us about a time when you felt overwhelmed with work.
  • How would you describe your communication skills?
  • Can you share an example where you effectively prepared ordinances for record or distribution purposes?
  • Describe a situation when you had a conflict with a colleague, or with a client.
  • Give an example of a situation when you used logic to solve some problem you encountered in work.
  • How would you describe an ideal colleague? And what about the worst possible colleague?
  • When you had to wok on multiple projects (tasks) simultaneously, how did you prioritize?
  • After everything we said in this interview, do you want to add something, or do you have any questions?

Special tip: Not sure how to answer the behavioral questions, “tell us about a time when…”, “describe a situation…”, etc? Have a look at our Interview Success Package, where you’ll find up to 10 brilliant answers to more than 100 interview questions, including 30+ behavioral questions–basically everything a hiring manager can throw at you in an interview for a Municipal Clerk job…

 

Final thoughts

Interview for a job of a city clerk belongs to interviews with average difficulty. They won’t ask you extremely difficulty questions, and you typically won’t have to complete a personality test, IQ test, or anything similar. At least in 95% of interviews you won’t do that.

What’s more, the questions are quite predictable–just like in any other clerical interview, and you can prepare your answers in advance.

On the flip side, you will typically compete with several other people for the job, and nepotism is a common problem in municipalities. At times they have their winner already, before the start of the interviews. But they will still invite you and other applicants, to satisfy the public, and ensure everyone that the selection process was transparent and fair…

Having said that, you should focus on things you can control. Nepotism does not belong to this group. Prepare for the questions, do some research about your future place of work, and show some enthusiasm in an interview. That’s perhaps the most you can do to succeed. Whether it will be enough at the end, or the winner is known already to the decision makers, is hard to say from your position outside of the municipality…

 

Mal also interest you:

  • Most common interview questions – Tell me about yourself, what motivates you in work, where do you see yourself in five years from now, and other tricky questions. Learn how to answer the questions that you can face in any job interview.
  • Data entry clerk interview questions – Another routine clerical job, and you may get some of the questions interviewing at the municipality. Check them out to avoid negative surprises.
  • How to overcome interview nerves – Feeling beyond nervous? It is time to get rid of stress and show your very best on the big day.
Matthew Chulaw
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