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PMF Assessment Prep Guide: Top Tips from the Official Source

***2015-2016 applicants – we have an updated 2015-2016 guide you can download for free here**

As November 5 approaches (yes, there is something else happening other than the election that week), the opportunity for prospective Presidential Management Fellows (PMFs) to apply for one of government’s most prestigious programs looms large on the horizon.

Knowing that PMFs likely have a lot of questions about the process, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management released its new 2013 Assessment Preparation Guide (embedded here for your convenience).

While it’s only a 9-page document and should be a quick review, I wanted to pluck out a few of the practical tips that they share in it:


1) There are 7 competencies that they are looking for in an ideal candidate – keep these in mind with everything you do – from your resume to your responses on the questionnaire:

  • Adaptability
  • Personal Accountability
  • Motivation to Serve
  • Problem Solving
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Oral Communication
  • Written Communication

OPM offers more detail on each competency in the guide.

2. OnLine Assessment – Part 1: Situation Judgment Assessment

  • you will watch a series of videos that reflect situations found in a typical office environment that illustrate interpersonal scenarios PMFs could encounter on the job.
  • you will be asked to choose the most effective course of action and the least effective course of action out of four possible courses of action for that particular scenario.
  • Choose a particular course of action based on (a) experiences you may have had in your current or previous jobs, in school, or in social, athletic, or volunteer organizations, and (b) what you consider the best for a particular scenario AFTER watching the video and reading through the four courses of action.
  • Select the course of action you consider the best, not the course of action you think others might select, or the course of action you think is expected of you.

3. Online Assessment – Part 2: Questionnaire

  • The questionnaire is designed to assess the competencies required for success in professional, managerial, and leadership roles based upon extensive research exploring the skills required to be successful in today’s economy and business climate.
  • You will be presented with short behavioral statements that ask about your interests and work preferences and rate each behavioral statement on a five-point scale ranging from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree.
  • Read each statement carefully, decide which of the five possible responses most accurately describes you, and then click on that response.
  • Be careful about which end of the scale is Agree and which is Disagree!

4. Online Assessment – Part 3: Essay Questions

  • You will answer three essay questions about your accomplishments and experiences.
  • Keep your essays between 200 and 300 words or 2,000 to 3,000 characters each.
  • Don’t worry about how the questions are related to your potential as a PMF.
  • Do not get hung up on one or two questions – it is not the individual items that are important, it is the whole person represented by measured characteristics that the assessment evaluates.
  • Don’t worry about the characteristics the questions are measuring are measuring.
  • Don’t guess at a “right” answer; just be candid and honest in your responses to all assessment questions.
  • Try to finish in one sitting, if you can.
  • Check out their system requirements for your computer in advance – read them carefully and make sure you’re okay.


5. In-Person Assessment

  • This is an immersion experience that simulates a day in the life of a PMF.
  • You will participate in a series of 4 timed exercises structured around issues relevant to the Federal Government today: Group Exercise, Press Conference, Behavioral Interview, and a Writing Exercise.
  • A panel of trained Federal employees will evaluate the degree to which you demonstrate the PMF critical competencies assessed in each exercise.
  • It will last approximately five hours and is designed to be a challenging, highly engaging experience – two short breaks, and very little “downtime”.
  • Don’t forget your invitation email – that’s your ticket to get in.
  • Don’t be late: you will not be allowed to participate if you are!
  • Don’t forget a form ID like driver’s license or passport (C’mon, it’s the government. If you want that cool official ID one day, better start getttting used to it now 🙂
  • Don’t bring food, drinks, purses, briefcases, backpacks, notebooks, books, cell phones, or any other electronic devices into the classroom
  • Give it back: they want you to turn in assessment materials, including scratch paper, when you’re done.

Do you have any questions? Ask below.

Want more? – Check out our Guide to the 2013 PMF Application Process

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