Click here to skip navigation
An official website of the United States Government.
Skip Navigation

In This Section

Our Director Director's Blog

Hiring is one of a manager’s most important responsibilities. Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to hire many people – at the junior, mid-career, and senior levels – and over time, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to find and hire top talent.

The human resources team is a crucial partner and advisor for assisting with the technical aspects of hiring and to help make sure the process moves along smoothly. But every team is different, even within the same business, organization, or agency. And managers are best equipped to know what kind of distinctive skills and talents they need on their team.

If managers work hand-in-hand with the HR team to identify the strategies that will help them identify and interview the best possible candidates, they can help achieve “hiring excellence.” Encouraging managers to be fully engaged rather than relying solely on HR to drive the process is key to OPM’s work to improving hiring throughout the Federal government.

When I get to the interview stage, I take applicants out of their rehearsed comfort zones to get a real feel for who they are and how they would work with me on a daily basis. We all have our tried and true interview techniques and stories – our biggest weaknesses, what we bring to the office – and these are helpful. But more important for me is to find out who the applicant is. What is the individual’s passion, and how does that help us achieve our mission? Are they constantly curious and ready to learn? How do they navigate real-time problem-solving? Are they able to think outside the box? These qualities are important to me.

One of my favorite interview questions to ask is, “What is the most important thing that you accomplished last week?” This question is valuable because it solicits both a tangible and unrehearsed answer, as well as a genuine insight into what the person values about their work. I also like to hear how the candidate did the work and who he or she brought in to help, because this says a lot about whether or not the candidate is a team player.

Especially when hiring junior folks, I always look for how well the person took advantage of the opportunities available to them, no matter what the setting, whether the applicant came from the Ivy League or a community college, a small startup or one of the Fortune 500. I value that above most other qualities because it shows resourcefulness, willingness to grow, curiosity to learn, and a commitment to working hard in order to succeed.

These qualities are important to me when I hire. And I encourage every manager throughout government to take some time to think about what they want in their next employee, both in technical skill and personality. Managers are the key to building hiring excellence across government. 

Picture of several Federal Employees interviewing each other during a workshop.


    0 thumbs up Share
Control Panel

Unexpected Error

There was an unexpected error when performing your action.

Your error has been logged and the appropriate people notified. You may close this message and try your command again, perhaps after refreshing the page. If you continue to experience issues, please notify the site administrator.

Working...