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Module 5: Prepare for the Interview



In many cases there won’t actually be any interview at all – as long as you pass the online assessment and reach a certain score in the test, they might offer you the job straight away. Just be sure to pass the drug test, and come in with a good mood for the orientation.

Then again you may be invited to an interview by phone, email or phone and email. At this stage of the Postal Service’s recruitment process, it is critical to check your email often, be sure to look in the junk folder in case it landed there.

Now that you have been invited to the interview, lets look at how to prepare and what to expect. Being ready can relieve a lot of the anxiety you might feel. This section will help you show confidence during the interview.

STEP 1: About the Interview

You may be called to attend one or more interviews. The first interview may be a group interview with other candidates, followed by one or more individual interviews and the last interview may be a team interview where you are interviewed by the employees you hope to be your coworkers.

STEP 2: Group interviews

Invitation and Preparation

In response to an online application submission and successful test result, the supervisor in charge of hiring for a given region may send applicants an invitation to a group interview. You must respond to the invitation within a specified time frame. After you respond, you will be sent details on the location and schedule of the interview. A typical group interview lasts about two hours. You will need to bring a printout of your invite, a completed application form, a copy of your resume and a pen. Business attire is required.

Candidates generally start out in group interviews and move on to one-to-one interviews based on performance. USPS group interviews may last up to two hours.

STEP 3: Individual Interviews

Once the initial group portion of the interview is concluded, you may be contacted for a private interview with a supervisor. Or this may be the first step in the interview process The supervisor asks questions about your work ethics, skill set and how your existing skills relate to the position for which you are applying. The point is for the supervisor to assess if you are a reliable and capable worker. 

STEP 4: Interview Preparation

1. How to Dress

  • ♦ First of all, our confidence grows when we feel good in our attire. When we feel comfortable and attractive in our own eyes, and we aren’t thinking about unimportant details related to attire anymore. 
  • ♦ Keep it comfortable. Uncomfortable clothes (especially shoes), create annoyances we feel here and there. You can lose ten percent of your focus when you are fiddling with something. 
  • ♦ Do not buy new clothes or shoes just for your job interview. And if you do buy them, wear them at least a few times before, to ensure you are feeling comfortable in your new clothes.
  • ♦ The interviewer should notice that you appear neat, clean and professional. Keep it simple, a one colored shirt or skirt is fine in most cases. Stick to a pair of dress pants or simple knee length skirt with a crisp shirt or simple blouse. After the initial minute the interviewer should pay attention to what you say, not to what you wear.
  • ♦ Accessories should not be distracting, avoid long dangly earrings, jangly bracelets or necklaces you tend to fiddle with.
  • ♦ You should also think about weather. Wearing a beautiful white summer dress is not a good idea when the weather is rainy and sloppy. And better to be too cold than too hot, the last thing you want is to perspire heavily during your interview.
  • ♦ Try to keep an upright, confident posture and a confident gait when you walk in the room.

2. Know the Job Description

    •  ♦ Although each postal job is interlinked in some way, it’s important to become acquainted with your own job description. Don’t walk into an interview without knowing what your job will entail. 
    • ♦ There is a lot of information in the job description, have questions ready even if you assume you know the answer. It will make you seem knowledgeable and prepared.
    • ♦ Put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer, the boss, and think about what questions you would ask.
    • ♦ Your postal service job is just a big umbrella under which there are many different professions to pursue. Make sure you know what you’ve signed up for as your employers will test your postal knowledge.

STEP 5: Interview Questions

Most of the interview questions job hopefuls encounter during the United States Postal Service hiring process center on job duties and codes of conduct.

Sample postal interview questions:


Why do you want to work for USPS?

  • ♦ I understand how important the service is that the US Postal Service has done for the citizens throughout the history of the country. Mail always has to be delivered. It’s an important service.
  • ♦ USPS is here to stay, working for them equals job stability, and a prestige of working for a governmental agency. I’m looking for–job stability under with a successful public organization.


Why do you want to work as a carrier/agent/delivery driver?

♦ I believe my skills match with the job description. I can adapt to changing conditions, and will enjoy being outside most of the day and helping customers when they need it.


♦ I don’t do well in a static environment sitting at a desk all day. I love working outdoors, meeting people, doing something physical in order to stay healthy. Hence the job of a carrier is ideal choice for me.


♦ Try to talk with some enthusiasm about your future job. They shouldn’t get an impression that you’re in only for an easy buck.



What is your definition of a great customer service? How do you plan to deliver such?

♦ Try to adjust your answer to the job you are applying for. As an agent working at a post office, I would approach each customer with a smile and give them my undivided attention. I would process their request as quickly as possible. I know people do not like to wait for long and there is always another customer waiting at a post office, so I would want to take care of them as quickly and accurately as possible.


♦ As a mail carrier, or a delivery driver, I would be friendly and courteous in all my communication with the customers. Ensure the interviewers know that you would do your very best.


♦ If you can, think of a time you delivered good customer service and talk about what you did. Relating the question to something in your past that you actually did goes a long way.



How do you feel about working overtime, or on holiday?

US Postal Service delivers mail on holidays, with Thanksgiving and Christmas the only exception.

♦ I don’t not mind working on the weekends sometimes–as long as shifts are balanced, and you do not work all weekends. I know it would be expected of me on some occasion, the mail must get out.


♦ I know there are some times during the year that are busier than others. Christmas especially must be really busy, and I would expect to work longer, and I’m ready to do that. Everyone will be putting in extra work at that time.


♦ Be sure the interviewer knows that you understand the job requirements.



Can you tell us something more about your driving experience?

You will get this question when applying for a job of delivery driver, or other position with USPS that requires driving a vehicle.

♦ I’ve had my driver’s license for x amount of years, and I’ve seen some crazy driving. That has just made me drive with more awareness.


♦ I have strong navigation skills and experience driving in both busy city centers and urban areas, and I should not find it hard to reach any place with your delivery van.


♦ If you had an ac`2cident before you should not try to hide it. Admit making a mistake, and tell them how the experience actually taught you an important lesson, and made you a better driver.


♦ The most important thing is to show confidence in your driving abilities.



What is your availability? What hours can you work?

You should already know the hours they expect you to work and should not have gotten this far without already thinking this through.

♦ I’m fully committed to working . . . I’ve let my family know that my hours will be erratic and that it will give me time with them, when other people are working, but that nights, weekends and holidays will be different. They are as committed as I am to make this work.


♦ I know that part time work is not always the same hours but I can be flexible.


♦ Telling them that you can work only when you aren’t studying, dating your boyfriend, or taking your child to a dance class won’t make much impression on the interviewers… They should feel that this job has a high priority on your list, and that you are ready to sacrifice something for your new employment.

It’s freezing outside and the wind is blowing hard. How do you feel about starting your shift and delivering hundreds of parcels?

♦ The mail has to be delivered regardless of the weather, and so I’ll put on some extra clothes, and head out into the freezing day.


♦ I understand there are good and bad things about any job. I prefer to work in good weather conditions–just like everyone else, but I won’t stay home just because it is very cold or very hot.


♦ If you like the variability of weather, and see it as a challenge, don’t hesitate to convince them of that.



What will you do if a customer complains about your service?

♦ I will listen carefully to each word of your customer. I’m not perfect, and if I made a mistake, I want to make it right.


♦ I will listen carefully to their complaint, and try to understand what went wrong. Maybe I made a mistake, or maybe they misunderstood something, or maybe they are miserable from life and want to vent their anger on me. Whatever the case, I you will try my best to remain courteous. I won’t take their feedback personally. After all they are complaining about the service they got, and not about me. I’ll try to help them out as best I can, but if I can’t, I’ll simply move on and try my best with another customer.


♦ Be sure the interviewer knows you will deliver the best of yourself, and that you won’t escalate a situation.



This is a repetitive and sometimes also a hard job. What will motivate you to keep going?

♦ I know that there are many quality checks in place. I know that we want to deliver the mail correctly the first time, and to do that for the volume we process. But I want to earn a decent living for my family and this kind of work suits me.


♦ I enjoy this kind of a job (delivery, carrier, agent, analyst) so much, and don’t mind repetition. I like a daily routine, and hope to leave the office each day knowing I did a good day’s work.

General questions – The following list outlines generalized questions an interviewer might ask to learn more about who you are and how you would handle the job:

♦ Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

♦ Why are you interested in working for the USPS?

♦ What challenges do you anticipate in a job like this?

♦ Are you willing to work overtime? Can you work nights and weekends as well?

♦ Do you work well under pressure?

♦ What do you consider to be your greatest strength?

♦ What is your greatest weakness? What are you doing to overcome it?

♦ How much experience do you have in customer service?

♦ Can you explain a time when you dealt with an unhappy customer?

♦ How have you proven yourself to be reliable in your previous jobs?

♦ Discuss a time when you worked with a team to overcome a challenge at work.

♦ What was your greatest achievement in your previous job?

♦ How would a former manager describe you?

♦ Why did you leave your last job?

♦ How has your prior experience prepared you for this role?

♦ Why would you say it’s important to provide excellent customer service as a postal worker?

♦ Can you work well knowing your performance is heavily based on the work of others?

♦ How do you plan, prioritize and organize your work?

♦ How would you react if you encountered an unruly dog?

♦ How would you respond to a manager asking you to do something you thought was unsafe?

STEP 6: Reduce Your Anxiety

Be prepared, those boy scouts knew what they were talking about. This way, you won’t feel as if the interviewer has caught you off-guard. Preparing beforehand will not only help you relax mentally, but will also help you give proactive responses.

♦ Read the job posting again. If you don’t do anything else do this.

♦ Think about what questions you would ask, and be ready with the answers.

♦ It’s normal to feel nervous. Hiring managers expect it.

♦ Standing or sitting straight with your shoulders back and your head held up, nonverbally reflects your confidence. It doesn’t matter how tall you are, when your posture is straight and aligned, instead of shoulders slumped and head down, you will appear in control and confident. And it will help you feel in control and confident.

♦ If you need to gather your thoughts take a moment to reflect take a deep breath before you answer, take time to think about your answer.

♦ Maintain a professional and cooperative attitude.

♦ Remember the interviewer wants to hire you, they want you to be the right person, so they can stop this process. They are on your side.

♦ You are in good company, everyone else is at least as nervous as you are, but you are prepared. This gives you the edge.

♦ Do not put too much pressure on yourself. You are human just like the interviewer and the other applicants.

♦ There are often more applicants than there are jobs, so do your best and be proud whether you get the job or not.

STEP 7: Pre-Hire List

The pre-hired status means you are being considered for the job. Your application has passed, and you have been qualified for the further procedures needed to hire you as a permanent employee.

Being on the USPS Pre-hire List is the first step towards your employment at the postal service. It means that you are almost qualified for the job and are just waiting for certain conditions to be met.

♦ If you scored sufficiently high, there is a chance that you might make it up to the prime people being considered for hire. If there is limited space for hiring and your score is in the lower spectrum, then there is a chance that you might have to wait to be hired.

♦ Be patient, don’t quit your existing job just yet. It can take 3-6 months to move the candidates from USPS Pre-hire List to the hired stage.

♦ Unless there is any discrepancy in the background checkor fail the drug test, everything is fine, and it’s just a matter of time before you are hired. The background check can take a while as there is much to go through, and a lot of candidates to check.

♦ Once the procedure initiates, you might be called in to have a pre-employment orientation. The pre-employed candidates are given an on site tour and showed crucial points necessary for their employment. Through this process, the candidates better understand the screening process, job responsibilities, training requirements, terms of employment, job expectations, and USPS values.

♦ The supervisor checks the skills and abilities of the pre-hired candidates based on how they perform during their pre-employment orientation. They can check your ability to adapt to changing situations, determine how dependable you are, and understand how well you can work with the team. If you can prove to be a valuable employee at this stage, then USPS will be likely to hire you permanently.

♦ At the end of the pre-employment orientation, the hiring officials hand over a report based on the candidates’ conscientiousness, adaptability, cooperation, communication, customer service, and other required skills for the job. If a candidate can score well on this report, they will be hired while the journey of the poor performers will terminate at the pre-employment stage.

♦ The successful completion of the pre-screening episode with USPS ensures that you have cleared your background check procedure.

♦The pre-hiring phase is crucial in determining whether a candidate will be hired or not, here are a few important guidelines that will help you secure a position:

  •            ⇒Follow all the rules and regulations.
  •            ⇒Have a high percentage of attendance.
  •            ⇒Efficiently perform all the essential duties and job responsibilities.
  •            ⇒Take accountability for your mistakes and learn from them instead of blaming others or the situation. No one expects you to do everything right the first time.
  •            ⇒Display punctuality, work ethics, and disciplined behavior.
  •            ⇒Co-operate with your co-workers.
  •            ⇒Be flexible and willing.
  •            ⇒Effectively handle the stress, frustration, and setbacks that come with learning a new job.
  •            ⇒Be ready to take up any new challenge or assignment and grab any learning opportunity or responsibility that comes your way.
  •           ⇒Be positive.
  •           ⇒Be sure you understand the instructions, it helps to repeat them back to be sure you understand. Questions are expected.
  •           ⇒Communicate with your co-workers, employers, and customers.
  •           ⇒Help your co-workers and customers when the need arises.
  •           ⇒Show that you add value to the organization.

♦ Orientation opportunities are provided only to those candidates who are seriously being considered right for the job. The company wants to confirm their decision by testing your practical skills and abilities when thrust into the job.

♦ Orientation serves two purposes. First, it allows you to familiarize yourself with the job, its responsibilities, and its liabilities. Second, it allows the company to determine whether you have the potential to become a valuable employee.

STEP 8: Notification

It’s not always possible for USPS to personally notify the long list of applicants whether or not they got the job. But they do release a list of pre-hired candidates. If the candidate’s name doesn’t appear on the pre-hire list, it’s assumed that the application has been rejected.

If your name appeared on the pre-hire list before being rejected, then USPS might send you an email notification or written notice to inform you. But it might take them a while to send that notification.

How Do you check your USPS application status?

    •               ♦ Visit the USPS official website.
    •               ♦ Log into your USPS account by entering the required credentials.
    •               ♦ Click on the Job Opportunities tab.
    •               ♦ Click on the My Application link.
    •               ♦ Check the status of the job application form for which you recently applied.
    •               ♦ USPS generally displays the following Application Status:
    •                    →Received: The USPS has received the application.
    •                    →In Progress: The application is being processed by HR.
    •                    →Offer: The USPS has decided to extend the offer of employment to the applicant.
    •                    →Hired: You have passed all the stages of the hiring procedure and have been hired by the company.
    •                    →Closed: The application is no longer being considered, either because the candidate has already been hired or because the  application has been rejected.



 STEP 9: Final Thoughts:

Securing a job at the USPS can be a complex, lengthy, and time-consuming process. It’s designed to hire the best. It is completely worth the wait.

Don’t become impatient even if the journey took longer than expected.

Stay positive, and your patience and perseverance will definitely yield the desired results.

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