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How to prepare for Federal interviews, according to GSA Applications

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“The U.S. Federal government is the largest purchaser of goods and services nationwide,” said a top executive at GSA Applications. If you’re a small business owner or an individual contractor, bidding on GSA (General Services Administration) contracts is an appealing and effective option to significantly increase your revenue.

The GSA application is effectively an unlimited Request for Proposal (RFP) posted as an opportunity on the Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) website. With a current listing of nearly 17,000 active federal opportunities, there is substantial reason to learn the GSA application process. It is a great resource to tap into as a reliable revenue source for you or your small business.

Each year the U.S. Federal government is required to allocate a percentage of its overall budget to GSAs. This translates into opportunities for the prepared bidder. IHS Global Insight estimated the 2013 value of federal purchases of goods and services would equal $1.20 trillion. Not surprisingly the competition for these potentially lucrative contracts can be significant.

The idea behind the GSA system is to reduce the redundancy and duplication that is widespread across government. Government duplication is creating inefficiencies and unnecessary spending. Agencies who access GSA services, instead of duplicating those contracts independently, particularly for office supplies and professional services, find themselves saving time and money.

There are two main avenues to secure work with the Federal government: as an employee applying for a Federal position or as a small business looking to secure a government contract to provide a service or product.

“Both options require a unique approach that varies from what you might be used to in the private sector,” said a marketing specialist from GSA Applications.

The same requirements and preparations needed when applying for work in the private sector also apply when trying to secure employment with the Federal government. Dress appropriately and take care with your overall appearance to help ensure a positive first impression. With that in mind, manage your time carefully so that you arrive early; punctuality is crucial. In addition to this traditional interview etiquette, your chances of securing a position within the Federal government will be greatly improved with additional preparation for the interview process.

Getting to the interview stage for federal government work, means you’ve been successful in tackling the first major hurdles. You generally won’t get called for an interview unless your resume was impressive. The resume must demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) as they apply to the position. You have also likely been required to complete a detailed questionnaire to answer additional questions to clarify your KSA in relation to the position. If you have impressed your potential employer you will be invited to a face-to-face interview.

Make sure you do your research; not only on the position, but also on the department or agency so that you come prepared with intelligent questions. This will demonstrate not only knowledge of the job requirements, but will also prove a broad understanding of how your position fits into the larger picture. Do a Google search to see if there’s anything newsworthy that would help establish your interest in the department’s or agency’s activities.

Before you arrive for the interview, try and gather as much information as you can about the interview process itself. Will the interview be one-on-one or a panel? By asking how long the interview is expected to take, this will help you manage your time when answering questions. While it’s important to provide well-rounded and carefully considered answers, you also want to make sure you are succinct and clear with your responses.

Finally, study the job description and the core competencies, and how your KSA meet or exceed their requirements. Be prepared to address each competency and be able to smoothly relate it to your education and experience. There is no such thing as too much practice when it comes to reciting a smooth and eloquent delivery of your qualifications.

When it comes to securing a contract as a small business owner, the advice above also applies. There is more formality when going through the RFP process. Instead of answering each requirement listed in a job description, your proposal must address each and every requirement listed in the RFP. Do research on the department or agency who has offered the RFP. Make sure that the business services or products you’re offering meet or exceed all the RFP requirements.

You must have a Data Universal Numbering System (D-U-N-S) identification number in order to do business with the federal government. You will need to obtain this number before submitting a proposal. The good news is that it is free and can be obtained online at this Dun & Bradstreet website.

Next you will want to determine your industry identification number so you can search for available work. These Federal Supply Codes and Product Service Codes (FSC/PSC) are found in the Department of Defense Logistics Agency and the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes are found on the U.S. Department of Commerce website.

It is imperative that your business protocols meet government standards, note the specialists at GSA Applications. These include: appropriate business insurance; high-speed Internet; and, a professional business plan clearly showing your ability to reliably perform work for the federal government. You will also need to prove that you have sufficient working capital available in order to efficiently complete any contracts that might be successfully secured. Scrupulous record keeping is essential should you find yourself being audited by the government. You will need to demonstrate the man hours and budget dedicated to a particular job.

The effort required to secure federal government work or contracts can seem daunting.

“You have the option to secure the services of a professional company specializing in helping small business navigate the oft-treacherous waters of filing for a government contract,” said the experts at GSA Applications.

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