A Performance Based Interview, Oh My!


It’s only fitting that I write about the next process after my previous blog. I hope you don’t mind. It just wouldn’t be right if I take an entirely different focus until I help you complete your journey. If one of your resolutions is to apply for a new position in 2015, perhaps you have read a New Year, New Resume. If not, simply click here and you will find a few tips to get you up to speed.

The competition for a coveted position is tough enough. If you have worked hard on your resume, you can’t rest just yet. There is still a ways to go. So, we are going to assume that you have a résumé that works for you, submitted, and now you have gotten a call.

The call

It is a performance based interview (PBI). According to this site, PBI is a systematic approach to job interviewing that is based on an analysis of job duties and skills. Most federal agencies practices PBI. It requires specific examples in your work environment.

By the time you have gotten the call, you should have traveled a bit farther. Therefore, if you are applying for positions or have applied for a position; you really have to get ready for the interview before the call. After heading PBI interview panels for the past decade, here are a few tips to prepare you for the call:

1. Research performance based questions
2. Practice the STAR model (What was the situation? What was the task, what did you do (action)? What were the results?) to answer commonly asked questions OR use this simple model: problem, action, results (PAR).
3. Click on typical questions and develop answers prior to the interview
4. Participate in a mock interview
5. May sound silly but instead of going into an interview unprepared, practice, practice, practice

The Interview
1. Get there on time & dress appropriately
2. Answer truthfully & make eye contact with every panel member
3. Use STAR or PAR to respond
4. Do not mention names, negative narratives about anyone, or disclose your personal information

You as the interviewer. Yes you!

Once you have completed the interview, please do not leave the room without turning the tables on the interviewers. Asking question about the position illustrates your genuine interest in the position. I can’t guarantee you will get the position, but here are few questions that I think may impress the interviewers. You can choose to decide which questions you will ask:

1. What are the performance measures attached to the position (Wikipedia defines performance measures as the process of collecting, analyzing or reporting information regarding the performance of an individual, group, organization… to see whether output are in line with what was intended or should have been achieved.)
2. What specific tasks the person hired needs to focus on within the first ninety days in the position?
3. What are some of the position challenges?
4. What are three things that are important to you as a manager/supervisor that I need to know?

After the Interview
I know the interview is over. You say to yourself…Whoa, I am glad that’s over! I am sorry, it’s not over! Can you take just a few more minutes? Assuming you were introduced to the interviewers, you know their names, right? Hurry! You have 24 hours to craft the “thank you” email. According to Business News Daily, only 20% of interviewees send a thank you email. You want to be in that 20%. Say something like this: Thank you for considering me for the Program Analyst position in Quality Management. As you requested, I’m attaching the information we discussed. Also, say what you wished you had said, reiterate the skills you bring to the position but make it brief. The hiring manager is busy. You do not want to annoy her with a manifesto.

Not Selected?
Sadly, PBI’s sometimes prove that the interviewee can smooth talk responses. The individual hired may not be a top performer but was successful at impressing the panel members or may have been prepared. Even if you weren’t selected doesn’t mean you weren’t a good candidate. I recommend sending a note tweaking it to fit your personality: I received notice that I was not selected for the position of Program Analyst. However, I appreciate the opportunity to interview for the position. Could you provide feedback that would enhance my opportunity in the event another position or similar position becomes available.

Maybe a pre-selection occurred. Yes, I said it! The P word! It’s a dirty word in government. Sometimes the government isn’t clean. The P word needs a blog entirely to itself!

June Bridges Cox is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Debra Marcelle-Coney

June, this is such a timely post on PBI. It seems the thousand part questions/scenarios are crafted to test your memory, integrity, personal accomplishments within the federal system and of course if you are a team player. However it does not seem to take into account the accumulation of all the myriad of experiences outside of the federal government once you become apart of the system. It is unfortunate, if one does not fit perfectly into the slot or peg; one may consider the investment into education, life experience, and innovation is not the VA Way. Perhaps, in another 5-years or maybe sooner, someone who is authorized; may consider there is Another Way. It is possible to have both ways to effectively impact our Veterans & their families.

Eva Fulton

thanks for a very timely blog! I missed my thank you email opportunity last week but I think with the rest I might have done pretty well on the interview after all. We shall see and I look forward to your next blog.


Thank you for sharing. The hyperlinks in the article are not working for me. Could you send me a direct link to the New Year, New Resume blog and the questions please. Many thanks.