The USAJOBS Self-Assessment Questionnaire

Like other large employers, the federal government has a completely automated job application system. USAJOBS screens candidates for keyword matches and minimum qualifications. If you don’t make it through the first computer filter, a set of human eyes will likely never even have a chance to evaluate your candidacy.  

More and more companies are using self-assessment reports to help screen applicants. This is where you are asked a series of questions about your knowledge, skills, and abilities in relation to a specific position.  It is a good idea to scan the questionnaire first before tailoring your resume and cover letter for the job. The survey often gives you an in-depth look at the skills and qualifications they are seeking which ultimately helps give you guidance on how to tailor your documents.

Many applicants are screened out because they are too modest in how they are reporting their qualifications. This is understandable because employers often use very serious and slightly threatening language stating that if an applicant overstates their abilities, they could later be fired. It goes without saying that you should never lie within a job application; however, you do need to project confidence in how you are presenting yourself to employers.

Too often, candidates are using an incorrect barometer for comparison. When they ask if you could be considered a “expert” on a subject matter, compare yourself to the average person – not your PI or another renowned expert in your field. Conversely if you find it would be a stretch to rate yourself highly for a variety of different questions (not just one or two), then perhaps this is not the best ft for you. The self-assessment questionnaire is a critical and integral part of the automated application system. If you can’t rate yourself highly enough, you won’t be passed on to the next round.

When reviewing the questionnaires give yourself the most credit you can when answering and hopefully that will lead to your resume being referred.

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