Are You Qualified for the Job? The Quickest Way to Get the Answer

One of my favorite USAJOBS “tricks of the trade”—and a much over-looked resource by most federal jobseekers—is reading the questionnaire of a vacancy announcement.

Novice jobseekers often try to analyze the job announcement narrative to figure out whether or not they qualify for the job. Actually, the answer is quite clear if you click on the magic link buried deep into the announcement that says “View Occupational Questionnaire” or “View Assessment Questions.”

It’s like getting lost in the woods and suddenly finding the map that will get you back out.

The questionnaire is a clear guide of exactly what the Human Resources (HR) Specialist needs to find in a candidate. It’s numbered like a well-organized checklist. Many questions are simply yes / no or A/B/C/D/E for quick review and evaluation.

There are generally two types of questions in the questionnaires: questions about the basic qualifications of the job, and questions regarding the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the applicant.

Meeting the Basic Requirements

The first cut is obviously whether or not you meet the basic requirements. These questions are usually quite straightforward:

  1. A requirement for this position is that you must have education and experience in environmental engineering and/or geology in order to provide expertise in soil and groundwater contamination evaluation

Yes – I have environmental engineering and/or geology experience

No – I do not have experience in environmental engineering or geology.

Determining How Qualified You Are

Next, the HR Specialist must sort out whether you are Best Qualified, Well Qualified, or simply Qualified by evaluating your level of the knowledge, skills, and abilities relating to the job.

Here is where things get a little trickier, because the questions will usually involve a self-rating scale similar to this example:

For each of the following tasks, choose the statement from below that best describes your experience as listed below.

A- I know little or nothing about this.

B- I have had study or training in this.

C- I have used my knowledge or ability, but I have been closely supervised.

D- I have used my knowledge or ability on my own, under normal supervision.

E- I am consulted by other journeypersons in difficult situations, or I am called on to do unusually difficult jobs.

  1. Thorough knowledge of visual arts, videographic, and photographic methods and?techniques and the subject matter supported or depicted to plan visual products and services that interpret subject matter content.
  2. Knowledge of the subject matter program area to develop original designs, concepts, or visual styles for publications, exhibits, or presentation material that present to the public the ideas of image desired, evoke certain viewer responses, or reduce the cost of production, installation, or maintenance of the visual product.
  3. Ability to plan and carry out visual arts projects, resolving most conflicts that?arise, integrating and coordinating the work of others, and interpreting policies.
  4. Ability to develop specific ideas on the appearance and contents of the product (e.g., specific photos, videos, illustrations, typography, color scheme, or number of views to be illustrated).

In order to apply for a job successfully, you must hit the mark of BEST QUALIFIED. How do you hit that mark? You need to score the highest rating (E in the example above) for at least 85-90% of the questions in this section! If you read the announcement and decide that you cannot achieve that score, then move on to another job announcement for which you are better qualified.

If you are trying to get into a government position for the first time, or change fields within the federal government, look for those job announcements that are more “generalist” and not requiring specific skills and knowledge beyond your experience and education.

A Few More Words to the Wise About Questionnaires

Don’t deflate your questionnaire answers! Give yourself all the credit that you can. Read how

Finally, make sure your resume supports your questionnaire answers. The HR Specialist will cross check your resume to see if you answered the questionnaire accurately and correctly. Use the keywords from the questionnaire in your outline format federal resume. Read more about the outline format

So, the common sense tip for your federal job search is: Check the questionnaire to help you decide whether or not to apply.



paulina_b&w_200x133Paulina Chen has a passion for taking the complex and making it simple for people to understand. Paulina has been a graphic designer, developmental editor, and webmaster for The Resume Place for over 10 years. Since receiving her Certified Federal Job Search Trainer certification, she has been eager to show federal applicants that writing your best possible federal resume is within your reach. If you need more writing help with your federal resume, contact us for an absolutely free project review. If you need expert advice or training, Kathryn Troutman the “Federal Resume Guru” is your best bet on the planet.

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Federal Jobs by College Major

See the USAJOBS Federal Employment Information Fact Sheet containing a table that groups Federal jobs that are often filled by college graduates with appropriate academic majors.