How to Make Yourself More Successful on a Selection Committee
When a company seeks resumes for a position, it might establish a selection committee to vet those resumes and select the best for the position. The goal of this committee is to reduce the risk that any single person will possess a personal bias toward or completely against any one applicant, and to present the resumes to many potential applicants. Unfortunately, often times the selection process for a federal job can be a little murky-even when the job is government-applications. Sometimes the information provided by the committee will be riddled with errors or mischaracterization.
A typical example may be that the selection committee member interviewing a candidate has an aversion to hearing a female’s voice, despite her having the most excellent resume. Another example is that the selection committee member interviewing a candidate was impressed with a candidate’s professional connection to his or her previous employer. In this case, the fact that the connection was made by a female applicant was irrelevant; however, the fact that the connection occurred (i.e., the applicant worked in the same office as the former employee) was significant to the selection committee member interviewing the candidate. These are situations in which the selection process has a subjective element-a quality common to all humans, not only to government employees but to professionals in every area of life.
Although the Selection Committee will attempt to weed out biases inherent in the interview process, there will always be instances when the Selection Committee will make a mistake-focusing on one or two candidates over another that merits at least a phone call back to the candidate for further interviews. This does not necessarily follow that a perfect stranger, who is hired for the job of interviewing, will automatically become a great fit for the job. The Selection Committee is human; they make mistakes. Just like you, they are fallible. The question here is how do you know the Selection Committee did an effective job, and how can you use that experience to your advantage when interviewing yourself?
You cannot take the Selection Committee’s mistakes and run them over in your interview. The entire point of hiring someone to interview you for a government position is so that you can be completely honest in expressing your qualifications and interests, something that cannot be done during a phone interview. There are many different ways to ensure that you interview effectively-phone interviews, online training, background checks, etc. However, if you want to know how a Selection Committee conducted an interview, you need to understand how they conducted their interviews in the first place. So what indicators are typically used to determine whether or not the Selection Committee member interviewing you is doing an effective job?
It is common for selection committee members to ask open-ended questions that do not have a particular answer built into them-unless, of course, that person happens to be the woman interviewing you. Questions such as “Where did you learn about your interest,” “What type of additional education do you think you will need,” and “If you were a college student, what would you have achieved,” along with similar questions, will give you the opportunity to highlight your strong points, and work to soften your negative points. The more you can show your strengths and minimize your negative traits, the more likely you will make a good impression on the Selection Committee.
Answering these questions during your interview is a way to demonstrate that you have thought about the role you are applying for, and that you understand the organization’s needs and goals. This is important because it gives the Selection Committee members a sense of confidence that you really know what you are talking about and that you are aware of what is happening in the organization. It also demonstrates that you have a clear idea of how you plan to succeed as a candidate and are focused on fulfilling the role. A Selection Committee member who appears to be unsure and ill prepared will not be successful, no matter how well qualified he or she may be.