The Top 10 Reasons You Were Not Picked for an Interview

Over and over I hear, “if I could only get an interview, I could get the job…” Yet, far too many times, you’re not called for an interview. What could have happened…you thought you were the perfect fit…and you may have even received an email saying that you were referred to the hiring manager.

Of course, truly knowing the precise reason for not getting interviewed for a specific position is difficult to figure out but here are some of the more common reasons why you were not called for an interview: [Read more…]

Validating Your Experience—Third Party Endorsements

We have talked about the importance of documenting your experience on your resume and through your cover letter. In addition to documenting your experience through achievements and metrics, another way to demonstrate your expertise and effectiveness is through third party endorsements. There are several ways to approach this:

  • Consider featuring a quotation from a recent performance evaluation or award recommendation on your resume. On a USAJOBS resume, you could call it a Supervisory Endorsement and put it in the Additional Information Section of USAJOBS. Be sure to identify where the quote came from (e.g., Recent Performance Evaluation) and identify the source, either by name or title. Here’s an example:

“Branch Chief Smith is keenly versed on all laws, regulations and policies relevant to the program. He is working diligently to transform the operational paradigm from solely security to a frontline/investigative methodology…and to retool training…He is an expert on the science that distinguishes DHS’s program from all others, particularly in the area of guarding against cross contamination.” 2016 Performance Review. [Read more…]

Special Interview Considerations: Phone and other Remote Interviews

While the traditional face-to-face interview is still the most common, many agencies and companies are conducting first interviews (or sometimes, the only interview) remotely, using the telephone, Skype, video-teleconferencing (VTC) or another medium. Preparation, including researching the organization, drafting your CCAR examples, composing questions to ask the employer, etc., are applicable to both in-person and remote interviews, however, remote interviews present some special challenges.

Telephone interviews are particularly challenging since you cannot see the people with whom you are interviewing. If contacted for a phone interview, I encourage you to ask if the interview can be conducted using Skype, FaceTime, VTC, or something similar where you can see the interviewers. While still not as personal as face-to-face interviews, being on camera can help everyone stay more focused on the interview itself. [Read more…]

They’ve Finished Asking Questions, Now What?

Earlier articles focused on the basics of interview preparation—how to calm your nerves, what to wear,  how to present yourself professionally, preparing CCAR stories, and planning transportation.  This article discusses what happens once the interview panel has stopped talking.

A good interview is not a one-way street. While interviewers are determining whether you are a good match for the job, you should use the interview as an opportunity to learn whether or not the job is a good fit for YOU. One way to do that is to be prepared with questions for the panel.

During most interviews, you will be given an opportunity to ask questions of the panel. Never say that you don’t have any questions! You should always have 3 to 5 well-prepared questions to ask. Your questions should not be about you (how much training will I get? Will I have the opportunity for promotion? Etc.); instead, they should show your interest in meeting the employer’s needs, not yours. [Read more…]

Don’t Wing it: Preparing for an In-person Federal Interview, Part 2

In part 1 of this article, we discussed the basics of interview preparation—how to calm your nerves, what to wear, presenting yourself as professional, and planning transportation. Now, let’s focus on the harder part of interview prep.

In the federal government, almost all job interviews are structured. Each interviewee is asked the same questions in the same order, and all questions are job related, consistent with the Uniform Guidelines for Employee Selection. While follow up questions may be asked for additional clarification, in most instances, questions are identical for each candidate and the candidate may feel that the interview is rigid and inflexible.

This consistency is critical from the federal government’s standpoint in order to minimize the opportunity and risk of legal challenges to the process. Notes are typically taken during the interview and interviews are evaluated often using predetermined measures. Although interviewing in the federal government can be quite structured, there are some steps you should take to prepare. [Read more…]

Don’t Wing it: Preparing for an In-person Federal Interview, Part 1

Most government managers rely heavily on interviews when assessing candidate suitability for an employment relationship. A recent Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) study showed that over two-thirds of federal managers reported they use the information gathered during an interview to a “great extent” when making employment selections.

Due to the heavy reliance on interviewing during the candidate assessment process, it is important to spend the time preparing to do it right. Interviewing is not the time to wing it! Most of the information in part 1 of this article is equally applicable to preparing for interviews in the private sector.

Many people are nervous about interviewing while others believe that “if I can just get an interview, I can get the job.” Whichever camp you’re in, the first thing to do, in preparing for an interview, is to think about the worst thing that could happen and then calm yourself and your fears. Whether your concerns are about whether you can answer the questions, that you might start laughing or coughing uncontrollably, or that the interviewer might be rude, identify your fear and plan to address it. Thinking about a potential response to each of your concerns will make you feel better.

[Read more…]

Tell me about Yourself—They Don’t Really Mean It

Most of us dread the standard “ice-breaker” question, Tell me about yourself. As someone who has interviewed applicants for more than 30 years, I have rarely heard this question answered well. More often than not, applicants launch into their biography — starting with where they were born! Trust me, I (and most interviewers) don’t care. In addition, this kind of biographical response can lead you to share information that I would rather not know: how many children you have, that you have a spouse (or don’t), etc. It is illegal for me to take these things into consideration and once you tell me, it’s hard for me to forget them. So please do not share this kind of information.

Instead, I want to know who you are and what you bring to the table, in the context of the job I’m interviewing you for. Look at that last phrase again: in the context of the job I’m interviewing you for. [Read more…]