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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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The Interview Process at FDA

Presentation by LaJuana Caldwell, FDA Acting Director, EEO at the HHS and FDA Virtual Hiring Event, Nov. 3, 2011

A variety of interview processes are used at FDA.  Interviews may be one on one with a hiring official or with a panel of hiring officials.  Different types of interviews can occur such as situational interviews where candidates are given scenarios and asked questions on how one might handle the matter in the scenario.  Interviewers are looking for information on the best possible action and expect a response based on similar scenarios from actual past work experience.  Other interviews may be highly technical in nature to assess your knowledge skills and abilities in a particular discipline.

Typically, FDA hiring officials will review a resume and consider the applicant information provided, the education, training, and work experience before the interview. Candidates should be prepared to discuss unusual gaps in employment; be able to elaborate on educational achievements and work experience. 

Once the interview is completed, the best qualified candidates are identified.  Selecting officials will then conduct reference checks with at least three prior employers and the current employer.  The reference checks are a way to clarify or validate information received by the applicant before making a selection. 

As candidates, you can ease the interview process by providing the hiring official with a complete resume with information that flows in a logical sequence and includes references and up to date contact information.  Write your resume in plain language and describe your work experience with sufficient detail to give the hiring official a comprehensive view of your skills and experience.

Keep in mind that the interviewer is attempting to assess how your skills will meet the needs of the organization and the position they are trying to fill. 

I recommend that you visit the organization’s website before you meet with the interviewer.  Be prepared by knowing the structure, the mission, and the leadership.  Try to find out as much as you can about the organization and be prepared to discuss what you can bring to enhance and support the mission.