Department of Energy
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Department of Energy Project Officer Interview Questions & Reviews

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Project Officer
Golden, CO

I applied online and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at Department of Energy in August 2009.

Interview Details – My experience was atypical as I was hired to work on Recovery Act projects. The Department had to staff up dramatically and quickly, and as a result the bar was set pretty low. I submitted my application through, and about 3 weeks later was contacted for an interview. I interviewed with two people, who asked me pretty basic questions. In general when interviewing in my office they'll give you a print out of the questions they want you to answer, and you can take a minute to think about them. They have to ask everyone the same 5 or so questions. They're pretty generic; how do you work with a difficult colleague, how do you manage people, that kind of thing. The interview lasted less than an hour. I got a call a week later with an offer.

Again, though, this experience was atypical as this was a direct hire opportunity. I have since applied for several other positions within this office, so I'll describe the typical process. You have to apply through USAJobs. Chances are you won't hear anything until at least a month after the job closes. If you're selected for an interview it still goes pretty much as described above. However, typical selection is much different. With my initial interview the bar was very low, they had to hire 50 or so people in a few months, so a lot of people got in. Usually they're just hiring one person, so while there is a pool of 10 or 20 or more qualified applicants, the decision is entirely based upon the feelings of the selection official. The result is that they hire their friends from within the office, so it's pretty much impossible to be hired unless you're friends with the hiring official. The typical hiring process takes around 3 months, sometimes longer.

Negotiation Details – I didn't try to negotiate, and I should have. You can't negotiate the grade you come in at, but you may be able to negotiate the step, or at the very least a recruitment bonus or student loan repayment. Give it a try anyway.

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