“Ice breakers” or “Ungraded Questions” are questions that are asked, most commonly at the beginning – of a Civil Service interview. They serve as an informal way to ease candidates into the interview environment, allowing them to relax and express themselves more freely. These questions are not typically assessed for correctness but are used to gauge a candidate’s personality, communication skills, and how they might fit within a team or organization.
Ice Breaker Example Questions
- Tell us a bit about yourself.
- What inspired you to apply for a role in the civil service?
- Can you share an achievement you’re particularly proud of?
- What is something you are looking forward to?
- What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
- What’s an interesting book you’ve read recently, and what did you learn from it?
- If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
- What was your favourite previous job?
- See more Civil Service interview questions…
Advice on Answering Ice Breakers
Though ice breaker questions in the civil service are not formally assessed, *they play a crucial role in setting the stage for your later responses*.
*they play a crucial role in setting the stage for your later responses*
This sentence is key so it’s worth taking a second to drill down deeper into what we mean. Ice breaker questions in the civil service interview might seem casual, but they’re actually your first chance to make a lasting impression. They set the stage for everything that follows, especially in terms of showing your enthusiasm and motivation. Think of it this way: how you respond to these opening questions gives the interviewers a glimpse of your energy and interest in the role. This early impression acts as a yardstick for them to measure your later responses against.
For example, if you start off by passionately discussing a project you’re proud of or explaining why you’re excited about working in the civil service, you’ve already set a high bar for enthusiasm. Then, when it’s time for the more critical, scored questions, the interviewers will have that initial burst of your energy in mind. They’ll be looking to see if that enthusiasm carries through, affecting how they perceive and score your answers. Essentially, maintaining a consistent, genuine level of interest and motivation from start to finish can significantly influence your overall evaluation. So, dive into those ice breaker questions with the same vigor and preparation as you would for the rest of the interview.
Here’s how you should approach ice breaker questions:
- Maintain Enthusiasm: Show your excitement about the role and the opportunity to work in the civil service. Enthusiasm can be infectious and sets a positive tone.
- Be Genuine: Authenticity goes a long way. Share true stories and opinions. It helps the interviewers get to know the real you.
- Stay Professional: While it’s important to be yourself, remember the context. Keep your answers professional and relevant to the role and the organization.
- Reflect on Your Experiences: Before the interview, think about your experiences and how they align with the role you’re applying for. This preparation will help you answer more fluidly.
- Show Your Personality: These questions are an opportunity to showcase your personality. Let your unique self shine through.
- Balance Brevity with Detail: While it’s important to keep your answers concise, don’t shy away from giving enough detail to paint a vivid picture.
- Practice Active Listening: Listen carefully to the question asked. Tailoring your answer to the question rather than giving a pre-prepared speech shows that you’re engaged and attentive.
Example Answers to Ice Breaker Questions
Below are short example answers to give you an idea of how you might respond to ice breaker questions in a civil service interview. Remember, these are just brief versions to inspire your own, more detailed responses.
Tell us a bit about yourself. “I’m a dedicated public policy graduate with a deep-seated passion for community service and social justice. Over the past few years, I’ve been actively involved in volunteering with various non-governmental organizations, focusing my efforts on environmental sustainability and improving educational access in underprivileged areas. My experiences have not only honed my project management skills but also deepened my commitment to public service.”
What inspired you to apply for a role in the civil service? “My inspiration to apply for a civil service role stems from a genuine desire to contribute to meaningful change and positively impact people’s lives at a systemic level. I’ve always admired the civil service’s pivotal role in developing and implementing policies that directly address the needs and challenges of our society. The opportunity to be part of this transformative process is what drives me.”
Can you share an achievement you’re particularly proud of? “One achievement that stands out for me was leading a community initiative to develop a comprehensive recycling program in our neighborhood. This project, which involved coordinating with local authorities and various community groups, resulted in a significant reduction in waste by 30% within the first year of implementation. It was a testament to what we can achieve through collective effort and innovative thinking.”
What is something you are looking forward to? “I am particularly looking forward to the opportunity to work on projects that directly improve public services and infrastructure. The prospect of being part of a team that makes accessible, efficient, and sustainable public services a reality for all citizens is incredibly motivating. Seeing the positive impact of my work on the community and contributing to a legacy of improvement is what I’m most excited about.”
What do you enjoy doing in your free time? “In my free time, I find great joy in hiking and exploring the natural beauty of national parks. It’s an activity that allows me to disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with nature. This balance is crucial for my mental well-being and helps me maintain a fresh perspective and high energy levels, both of which are essential for my professional life.”
What’s an interesting book you’ve read recently, and what did you learn from it? “A book that profoundly impacted me recently is ‘Sapiens’ by Yuval Noah Harari. It offered a fascinating exploration of the history of humankind, from the Stone Age to the modern era. What struck me most was the discussion on the importance of sustainable living and how our actions today shape the future of our planet. It reinforced my commitment to contributing to sustainable policies and practices.”
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why? “If I could choose any superpower, it would be the ability to master effective communication across any barrier, whether linguistic, cultural, or ideological. I believe that many of the world’s conflicts stem from misunderstandings. Being able to ensure clear, empathetic, and effective communication could significantly reduce conflicts and foster a more harmonious world.”
What was your favourite previous job? “My favorite job to date was working as a community coordinator for a local charity. This role allowed me to engage directly with various community groups, organizing events and initiatives that addressed local needs. The job was incredibly rewarding, offering me the chance to see the tangible impact of our collective efforts on improving community well-being. It affirmed my desire to pursue a career where I can make a difference in people’s lives.”
Other Question Types
In addition to ice breaker questions, civil service interviews often explore behavioural and strength-based questions. Behavioural questions aim to understand how you’ve handled specific situations in the past, giving insight into your problem-solving, teamwork, and leadership skills. These questions typically start with prompts like “Describe a time when…” or “Give an example of how you…”. On the other hand, strength-based questions focus on identifying your inherent strengths and how these can contribute to your role. They might ask “What are your greatest professional strengths?” or “What activities energize you?”. Both types are designed to assess your suitability for the role beyond technical skills, looking at how you interact with others, tackle challenges, and leverage your strengths to achieve success.