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Federal Programs Coordinator Interview Questions

by Sara Mahuron

A federal programs coordinator provides leadership for federally funded programs at an institution or organization. Major federal agencies employing coordinators include the departments of agriculture, commerce, defense, education, energy, environmental protection agency, homeland security, state transportation and veterans affairs. The coordinator develops, designs, implements and evaluates programs to ensure compliance and effectiveness -- helping to make the programs successful. Before you go into a job interview, be sure that know all you can about the department you are applying to work at.

Professional Qualifications

The job description should give all the clues you need about the qualifications this job will require. It is likely you met these requirements to qualify for the interview, but the employer may want to confirm this or ask you to elaborate about your qualifications during the interview. Previous experience working in a related federal program, preferably in a management role, plus a bachelor's or master's degree generally is required. Some programs may have veterans preference or seek candidates whose background is similar to the program's target population.

Past Experience

Working in a leadership role to coordinate federal programs requires some prior knowledge of federal programs. These programs generally are laden with guidelines and regulations that must be adhered to. The interviewer wants to know that you are familiar with the rigidness of federal funding and that you understand the special attention required. Expect questions about your experience writing grants, coordinating other federal programs, dealing with budget cuts, monitoring performance and communicating with administrators. Be familiar with the government's areas of focus, which include data-driven results, using measurable goals, accurate financial reporting, saving money, hiring the best talent, operating efficiently, reducing the carbon footprint and improving customer service. Answer questions with these issues in mind.

Personality Fitness

Each organization or institution has its own culture and goals. The people you will be working with, or supervising, are unique even if the program is nationwide. It is important to the interviewer that you fit in with its culture and support the goals of the program. Educate yourself about the program, its activities, its challenges and recent legislation that might affect it. Because the coordinator may operate the program in a self-directed manner, the employer needs to know you will work well with the existing team and support existing goals. Expect questions about why you are interested in the position and how you might handle certain scenarios.

Expectations

The employer has expectations of this position and the person filling it. These may include high integrity, ethics, responsibility, accountability, compliance and writing skill. As coordinator, you take on a great responsibility and are accountable to your staff, your supervisors, the government and the public. You must be professional. Expect questions that hone in on these expectations. Provide strong answers with examples of how you have demonstrated favorable qualities or strengths in the past. It is up to you to convince the employer that you meet -- even exceed -- these expectations.

About the Author

Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.

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