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#1 Posted : Friday, February 25, 2022 7:11:43 PM(UTC)

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Long Post: I had 2 phone phone interviews with different agencies within a day of each other. I'm having some thoughts about both and want to see what others think.

Interview 1 was with the VA for a Non-Supervisory GS-12, IT Specialist, (I'm a GS-9 now, but have time as a GS-11 & did submit my GS-11 SF-50 when I applied). Other than minor & typical interview jitters/nervousness, I thought it went pretty good. They sent me a Teams invite with the number to call in & I could see the names of the panel members. Before beginning with the questions, they gave me some background information as to what the job entails and were pretty detailed & descriptive; they mentioned I could work out of multiple bldgs. (which seems pretty typical for VA). I stumbled a little on a question or 2, but was able to at least give an answer. My overall sense was that they seemed very friendly and genuinely care about their employees.

When I asked 2 of my follow-up questions, "What are their expectations of me as a new VA employee in the first 90 days?" They took it a step further and essentially said my first 6 months to a year would be more of a orientation and getting comfortable & learning the job. My other question was "Why is the job vacant?" They said the last person they hired left after only 5 months to another state to be closer with family -- this to me sounds like a red flag. While the reason could very well be legit, in my mind could it also be that the supervisors are difficult people to deal with? Bad work environment? Or am I just overthinking it?!

Interview 2 was DoD with the Navy, GS-11, IT Specialist (I've been DoD with the Air Force for nearly 10 years now, no military background). Right off the bat, they dove in asking questions (gave me absolutely no background information about the job). They seemed to go pretty tough on me with a variety of questions, from technical, situation/behavior, and even what appeared to be supervisory questions (USAJobs posting had NO mention of Supervisory duties). Other than a few back & forth email exchanges setting up the interview with the initial POC, I could not get the rest of the panel members names (it was a very quick/fast talking intro of who was in the room). I did catch that all panel members were military (all my past interviews have been civilian members). Was this maybe a military style interview for a civilian position?
I also caught what could be a MAJOR RED FLAG for me: One of their questions to me was "What would I do if came into a job where there was NO TURNOVER?" They said last guy in the job just retired after a 35+ year career. Soo I'm thinking in all those years, nothing is written down, no processes, or could it be the panel members are just clueless of what the job actually is? Is that my cue to RUN AWAY if I were to get an offer?! I ran into this very situation at a previous GS-11 I had (last guy retired after 25 years & literally NOTHING written down, no processes, & leadership was clueless).

I asked the same follow-up questions as with Interview 1: Their expectations of a new employee were pretty basic (who's who & what they do, who to talk to if I were to have a question, and learning Navy jargon. They did acknowledge it's gonna take some time to adjust from my AF jargon to Navy jargon). Again, job's vacant because last guy just retired after 35+ year career.

Some final info: At the time of this post, I have not received an offer for either job. Both jobs are in New England (I live in MA), and both are literally a 2 hour drive from my current duty station. Anyone have any additional thoughts? Or if someone has experience with either agency?
#2 Posted : Sunday, February 27, 2022 4:32:00 AM(UTC)

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If both are the same, go with the one with the 12. As an 11 you'll be looking for the 12.
#3 Posted : Sunday, February 27, 2022 6:02:29 AM(UTC)

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Trust your instincts. 35 year long employment? That's the entire history of government IT - chances are good you'll have at least a couple of 286s running DOS 5 - if you're lucky! Take the 12.
#4 Posted : Monday, February 28, 2022 9:26:04 AM(UTC)

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My 2 cents, for what it's worth.

Job 1, I really wouldn't call the previous employee leaving at 5 months a red flag unless there were other flags in the interview or the turn over in the whole section is high. Seems like a no brainer for a 12.

Job 2, The previous guy was there 35+ years! That could speak of a good place to be around, and while there might not be any plans/process/whatever to make the job easier there might actually be; if there is not it's just opportunity to shine.

In the end it's your decision, just go into it with eyes open. I just got a promotion, knowing EXACTLY why the last two--the only 2--engineers left (had a long conversation with one of them), interview was the strangest and threw up a million red flags, then being told exactly what the supervisor is like by someone who used to work for them, but taking it anyway (I can do anything for a year right?). Guess what, that person is not my supervisor and leaves in a couple months; and I love my new sup and coworkers. I can see myself here for years (barring another bad sup coming in 3yrs). One plus to having military supervisors, they rotate out.

Edited by user Monday, February 28, 2022 9:26:46 AM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

#5 Posted : Monday, February 28, 2022 5:23:34 PM(UTC)

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It depends on where these jobs are located.

Someone who was there for 35 yrs felt settled in and just did the job. He might have gotten a house early in his career and was able to buy it off his salary but now, thst salary doesn’t cover the ability to buy a house.

Especially us smaller areas, fed jobs are coveted for pay and benefits. Once somebody is in they might do just enough to get by and not looking to advance.

The person after 5 months likely had other personal issues come up that would cause a need to move back to home. In VA, since many facilities are in smaller towns there can be a cult mentality of insiders vs outsiders. If you aren’t liked or viewed differently you aren’t happy.

In small city fed jobs there tends to be career ceilings because once somebody is in that job they likely stay there till they retire.

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