Frequently Asked Questions About Federal
The following questions and answers are
most commonly associated with the federal
jobs application process.
Do I Need?
NIFA strives to hire the best qualified
people for its positions. The Federal Office
of Personnel Management (OPM) establishes
basic qualifications for every occupation
in the Federal Government.
NIFA vacancy announcements:
- Describe the minimum qualifications
required for each position.
- Detail any other qualifications, called
selective factors, that candidates must
also have to be considered eligible for
You shouldn't apply for a position if
you don't meet both the required minimum
qualifications and any selective factors
described in the vacancy announcement.
If you do meet both the minimum qualifications
and selective factors, you may use your
experience and education to write the required
response to the KSAs (knowledge, skills,
and abilities), which are listed in the
Your experience and education help make
you “basically qualified” for
some positions and “highly qualified” for
others. As long as you meet the minimum
qualifications and the selective factors,
the closer your experience and education
match the position's requirements the better
your chance to be rated “highly qualified.”
What Are KSAs?
Knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs)
are the requirements needed to perform
a job and are demonstrated through qualifying
experience, education, or training.
Each vacancy announcement will list the
KSAs required in terms of “specialized
experience” or “selective factor” requirements.
In determining if you qualify for a position,
reviewers will evaluate your education
and experience against the KSAs for each
position. Because each position is different,
the requirements for each will be different.
When you apply for federal positions,
it is important for you to show that you
meet the “specialized experience” and “selective
factor” requirements for the position
in your application package. You can do
this by either including the information
in your basic application or by addressing
these requirements separately from your
If you choose to address your KSAs separately,
you should keep your responses brief and
to the point. You need to relate your responses
to the requirements of the job for which
you are applying and should give examples
that clearly demonstrate how your knowledge,
skills, and abilities meet the requirements
of the position. If you choose to rely
on your basic application rather than write
separate responses to the KSAs, you should
be sure your basic application covers all
the KSAs so that the reviewers don't have
to read between the lines to connect your
basic application to the KSAs. As an applicant,
you are responsible for showing how your
education and experience meet the requirements
How Do I Prepare
for an Interview?
During an interview, you should strive
to put your best foot forward. To do this,
you must know your own capabilities and
limitations, understand the job for which
you are interviewing, know what you can
contribute to the organization and the
position, and present yourself and your
capabilities positively. Interviews are
stressful for most people. You can avoid
some of the stress by preparing beforehand.
Applicants interviewed for NIFA positions,
in some cases, may be required to conduct
a seminar as part of the interview process.
The following tips might be useful to
you in preparing for interviews:
- Know the Organization.
Research the organization beforehand.
Visit the organization's Web site and
read up on the agency's mission and about
the specific part of the organization
where the position is located. Talk to
others who work in the organization.
- Be Enthusiastic. Show
that you're truly interested in the job
you applied for and in the organization.
Speak clearly and smile.
- Be Yourself. Don't
put on an act for the interviewer. Being
yourself may help you relax during the
interview and eliminate unnecessary stress.
- Be Prepared. Review
your resumé or job application.
Review the announcement for the job.
If you have time, you might want to request
a copy of the position description for
the job so you can get a better understanding
of the position you applied for.
- Be Honest. Openly
discuss with the interviewer your work
skills, strengths, and experience, including
reference to any volunteer work you perform.
If you do not have experience directly
related to a particular task that's part
of the job, say so. Explain your willingness
to learn new skills. Don't exaggerate
your experience; simply present yourself
in a positive manner.
- Look Your Best. You
will never get a second chance to make
a good first impression. Dress for your
interview in clothing appropriate to
a typical office environment.
If you don't get the first job, keep trying.
Each interview should be viewed as a learning
experience and will be helpful as you try
to land the right job.
Do I Use?
To apply for federal positions, you can
submit a completed resumé, curriculum
vitae, or an Application for Federal Employment
- Optional Form (OF) 612, along with other
documents requested in each vacancy announcement.
You can download the OF-612, as well as
other employment forms used in the application