Post Interview Thoughts

Over the past few weeks I’ve been applying for civilian jobs outside of my field of work. I’m very conscious of which federal postings I can be competitive in and recently in my AO, there has been little to apply for. I do have two new postings that I will be applying to, both of which are overseas, so that could be a huge transition for me and my family should I make the cut for either position.

The recent position I’ve applied to was for a sales consultant with experience in the social work field. Right up my situation. It was actually difficult to write a cohesive resume for the first time in quite a while, almost 2 years since I’ve even attempted to navigate outside of the federal system. It was not easy to condense my work history from 13 well crafted pages to a single sheet of paper. As frustrated as I was, I was thankful that the HR people actually looked at my LinkedIn profile and was able to see more of the depth of my work history.

Major differences:

Obviously with no application status, I had no idea how I fared with just my resume. Although this was negated as I received an email requesting a phone interview the same day.

I had the ability to provide a targeted cover letter, which I kept brief, to the point, and showed my research into the company. On USAJOBS.gov, you have the option only if it’s in the additional documents section and for the most part a cover letter isn’t always an option. Although, this proved once again, that if given the option, you should build a targeted cover letter, especially if you create a “whole work history” resume like my own and the way I have described here in this website.

No known salary indications. I had to utilize GlassDoor to seek comparative positions, which also allowed me to see how long people are usually employed by this company and a few other interesting notes about the culture.

I was able to research the company fully and to understand their culture and their team dynamic. This is almost never subject matter you can find about possible positions within the federal government. There is no website that talks about the field you’re interested in and since they are departments of the federal government, theres no direct correlation to local community standing outside of a possible facebook site.

No known interview questions to work off of. That’s not to say you will always get the same ones, but OPM has those bases covered fairly well and you can tailor your answer approach very well.

Things that were the SAME.

Still had a phone interview and then I had a typical roundtable interview.

Questions were relevant to my experience but not typical OPM style.

I was dressed to the nines. Even though I knew that the company culture was relaxed, this position does entail me to meet with high ranking government officials, CEO’s, and other business folks where a suit and tye are the norm. I’m always one to believe at an interview I should be the best dressed person in the room. Suit and tye were pressed, shoes were shined, fresh haircut and shave. All of this was funny as it was  a Monday when my roundtable interview happened and the participants were in jeans and less conservative attire.

The Takeaway…

Always be prepared for the interview. Reference OPM’s questions, because at least it will help you go over your previous positions and will refresh you with all of the comparative information you need to pass on to the hiring managers. Your strengths, weaknesses, etc.

Always be dressed to the best of your ability and for the most part, unless you’re starting into positions that would never require a suit and tye, still come dressed professionally.

Know how to take your current work history and tailor it to the position you’re applying for. There is always room for growth and improvement, make it known that you see this position as a challenge, but not one you’ve not had experience with.

Always apply to positions you qualify for. Don’t apply to positions because you think you can do the job. If your work experience doesn’t match the requested areas, applying only clogs the pipeline and will make you frustrated.

Take the time to thank the people for the interview. I always feel silly doing this, but it’s just good judgement to be thoughtful enough of other peoples time.

Ask early for how long the interview has been scheduled for and do your best to cut it a few minutes short showing that you’ve recognized the interviewers time is important.

Always smile..hard to do on the phone, but it will show through the entire interview.

Have a great week!

Coach Fed

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