How to Prepare Before the Performance Based Interview
Interviews are opportunities to learn and to share information. Performance-Based interviews are not difficult, but unless you are prepared, they can prove to be quite unsettling. In helping you get ready, here are a few tips to follow.
- Learn about the Department of Veterans Affairs and its mission, vision, and organizational structure. A good place to start is the VA web site. As you read about VA’s mission and strategic plan, think about how you could contribute. Also, learn about the administration or office within VA where you will be working. Make a note of any questions that you may want to ask during the interview. Don’t neglect to learn about our client, the veteran. The veteran is the focus of everything that we do at VA.
- Analyze the job and the type of position for which you are applying. Learn as much as you can about the position. If possible, review the Qualification Standards Handbook and obtain a copy of the actual position description. Contact other professionals currently working in the field within the organization or another agency. Conduct Internet and newspaper searches to aid in your research. Read current periodicals and trade journals to learn about current trends in the field. Be able to articulate why you are interested in the field and your long-term goals.
- Review the duties listed in the vacancy announcement and review your work history and how it relates to the position for which you are applying. Analyze the match between your skills and the job. Specific qualifications for the position are outlined in the Rating Factors of the vacancy announcement. Determine which of your skills best suits the requirements of the position.
- Identify examples from past experiences that demonstrate those skills. Be able to "tell a story" of how you used those skills. Use examples from past work experiences, internships, classes, activities, team involvement and community services.
- Try to provide recent examples, as the interviewer may want to ask you about specific details. It's much easier to provide details for a recent experience.
- Be prepared to give an example of a time when you experienced a contrary outcome. Explain a situation that did not turn out as you planned. Highlight what you learned from the situation and things you might have done differently.
- Identify a few (2-3) of your best qualities and decide how you will convey these during the interview. Be sure to have examples (tell a story) that demonstrate these attributes.
- Prepare two or three thoughtful job-related questions for the interviewer.
- Practice your interviewing skills well before you are called for an interview. Try watching yourself in a mirror and/or use a tape recorder. An excellent way to develop you interviewing skills is to conduct a "mock interview" with a family member, friend, and/or co-worker.
- Look professional. Professional appearance is an important part of the interviewing process. Conservative attire creates a positive first impression.
- Think positive. Feeling positive projects confidence and enthusiasm.
- Be sure you have the correct time and clear directions to the interview. Obtain the interviewer’s name and title and a phone number in case of emergency.
- Arrive early. Allow plenty of time for traveling, parking, and going through security. For most government buildings, you will have to show identification with a picture and your belongings will be scanned. Arrive no more than 10 minutes early to interviewer’s office.
- Be certain to bring several copies of your résumé, a notepad, and something to write with to all interviews. You may also want to bring some supporting materials with you, such as copies of printed articles, a portfolio that demonstrates your work, or a list of references.
- If you must carry a cell phone, be sure that it is off prior to going into the interview.