Have you been invited to interview for a Senior Executive Service (SES) interview? First, congratulations!! This is a critical step in joining an elite corps of about 8,000 senior executives across government.
This is not the opportunity to wing it! You’ll want to make a good impression. Here are some tips to help:
• Don’t assume that the job is yours—even if you currently work in the organization. And don’t assume that panel members will have read through your entire application. There are no guarantees and going in cocky is not a good look.
• Prepare; read the job posting carefully and look at the technical qualifications (TQ) for the position (also known as Mandatory Technical Qualifications or Professional Technical Qualifications). Review your application package.
• Understand CCAR (challenge-context-action-result). Even if the posting was resume only (with no Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) or Technical Qualifications required), the interview panel will expect you to respond to questions using CCAR examples. You will likely be scored on how well you use CCAR in your answers.
• Recognize the ECQs that are likely embedded within the questions. Before answering, think: what ECQ (or TQ) does the question come from? What are the key words from that ECQ or TQ? How can you incorporate those words in your answer? All questions in a SES interview should be around the ECQs and TQs.
• What numbers can you use to give your answers context? It’s not enough to say you supervised a staff or managed a budget. How many people? What was the dollar amount? Unless you share these details with the interview panel, they won’t know. Even, if you are interviewing in your own organization, don’t assume that panel members will remember your example or know what you’re talking about.
• Listen to the entire question; often questions are multipart; if you don’t answer all parts of the question, your score may be negatively affected. It is OK to take notes while the question is being asked or request for the question to be repeated.
• Be prepared with questions of your own for the panel. The questions should reflect your understanding of organization and position—and show that you’re interested in, and ready to, take an executive role.
• Don’t forget to say thank you, both at the end of the interview and more formally through a thank you note (email is acceptable).
While none of the above will guarantee that you will get the job, all of the tips will help you show your value and preparation—and that’s a great start to that next step in your career!