IBC Careers FAQs

Perhaps you have applied for numerous federal positions, or maybe the idea of a career with IBC and the federal government is a new one. Either way, the language and steps in applying for a federal job can be confusing. This FAQ section is intended to help you navigate the application and hiring process.

Hiring Process

How does the hiring process work? What can I expect from the hiring process?

Once the vacancy announcement (that's government lingo for "job posting") closes, we review applications (resumes, assessment questionnaire responses and other supporting documents) to determine if applicants meet the identified requirements. If you are found to be among the best qualified applicants, we will refer you to the hiring official for further consideration. The hiring official may contact you directly for an interview. 

You will receive notice of the status of your application via email. You must provide an email address with your online application. Notice of the status via email will generally occur within two to four weeks of the closing date of the announcement.  You can also check the status of your application in your USAJOBS account. 

Is a background investigation required? If so, what does it entail?

Yes, a background investigation is required for all IBC positions. The background investigation helps determine the applicant's honesty, trustworthiness, reliability, character and conduct. During the background investigation, we verify employment history, education and residence, and conduct interviews with knowledgeable sources such as friends, neighbors, supervisors and co-workers. We conduct a personal interview with each applicant to review the security forms completed and discuss the required topics necessary to help the Interior Business Center adjudicate the applicant's fitness for federal employment.

Applying for IBC Jobs

How do I find job openings?

The IBC Opportunities page on the IBC website is the first place you will want to look. It provides links to customized job searches on USAJOBS, the official job site of the United States federal government. You can also search for our vacancy announcements, and those of other federal agencies, directly at www.usajobs.gov. The Interior Business Center uses USAJOBS for posting and filling our vacancies.

All IBC jobs are grouped under our parent organization, The Department of the Interior, Office of the Secretary. When you look at the positions, be sure to look for the ones that say ”Interior Business Center” in the Jobs Summary section on the first page.

How do I know if I'm qualified for the job?

Every vacancy announcement has a section titled "Requirements." In addition to reading the entire announcement, you will want to review this area to determine whether you meet the qualifications for the position.

How do I apply? (Using the automated recruitment and application system)

In order to apply for a job, you must create a login.gov account in order to login to USAJOBS. Do this by clicking on "Sign In" directly from the USAJOBS home page. You will then need to either create a resume through the USAJOBS resume builder or upload an existing resume to your USAJOBS profile.

IBC uses an automated recruitment and application system that is integrated with USAJOBS, so your application and any required documentation will be submitted online. We will keep you up to date on the status of your application through email and your USAJOBS account.

It is critical that you note what documents are required for consideration (see the “Required Documents” and “How to Apply” sections of the vacancy announcement). Make sure you carefully review the instructions and always double check to make sure your application package is complete.

During the application process, you will complete an online Assessment Questionnaire. This MUST be completed online. This questionnaire will ask you some initial questions to determine if you have worked for the federal government before, if you have veteran's preference, other general questions, and questions that speak to the specific requirements for the position.

Once you complete the assessment, you will be able to add additional supporting documents for the vacancy announcement. You can upload these documents directly to the specific vacancy announcement and also save them in your USAJOBS profile.

Once you have finished adding supporting documents, you must click "Submit Application." If you do not complete this step, your application package will not be complete and will not be submitted for consideration.

Remember, each IBC vacancy announcement contains specific information on how to apply. Please be careful to follow these instructions closely. If you do not, your application may be considered incomplete and you will lose consideration for that job opportunity.

If you apply to any of our jobs, we recommend you print a copy of the vacancy announcement, or at least the specifics of the announcement including the vacancy announcement number, as the announcement will not be accessible electronically after the closing date. You can also save a copy of the announcement as an HTML webpage by going to File > Save As > select Web Page Complete > and click Save. If you have any questions about the application process, please contact the point of contact listed on the vacancy announcement.

How can I be sure you received my application package?

You can check your USAJOBS account for verification that your documents were uploaded and received appropriately.

You should also verify that your Application Package Status states "Received." This means that you have completed all of the necessary steps and submitted your application for the vacancy announcement.

How can I check the status of my application and the status of the position being filled?

The quickest way to monitor the status of your application and any jobs you have applied for is to use your USAJOBS account.

You will receive notice on the status of your application via email. This notice generally occurs within two to four weeks of the closing date of the announcement.

If I submit multiple resumes or supporting documentation, will you use the last one submitted?

You can submit multiple resumes and supporting documents, but only the most recent resumes or documents submitted will be used.

Why are you so detailed about the qualifications required?

If you take a look at our vacancies, you can see that we offer a variety of career opportunities in many occupations. These occupations vary as to the type of specific education and experience required. Applicants who do not meet these qualifications requirements will not receive further consideration for the vacancy. We know that our applicants work hard in completing their applications for our vacancies. We want you to clearly understand what is required for each position so that you are only spending your time applying to those positions for which you are qualified.

Why are there sometimes two vacancy announcements for the same position? And what is the difference between Delegated Examining and Merit Promotion?

There are many different ways to fill vacancies. IBC generally uses the following two types of competitive methods:

  • Delegated Examining: This kind of announcement is open to any U.S. citizen who wishes to apply. Typically, candidates who are entering federal service for the first time from the private sector will need to apply for delegated examining positions. This is also referred to as "public."
  • Merit Promotion: This kind of announcement requires applicants to have attained civil service status. This generally means that you currently work for, or previously worked for, the federal government (with a few exceptions). This is also referred to as "status."

There are also special noncompetitive appointing authorities for veterans, disabled applicants and former members of the Peace Corps. You can find more information on these and other hiring authorities by visiting the USAJOBS Federal Application Process page.  

I currently have civil service status. Should I apply under both the Merit Promotion and Delegated Examining vacancy announcements?

This is entirely your decision. Many people opt to apply to both, since you will be considered for the same position twice. Note: we do require the submission of two application packages to be considered under both methods. Be sure to read the vacancy announcements carefully and submit all required information.

What is an "Area of Consideration?"

The Area of Consideration is listed on the vacancy announcement and it is the source from which we will consider candidates. If you are outside of this area of consideration, you will not be considered. For instance, if the announcement states that the position is open to Department of the Interior Status Candidates, you will not receive consideration if you do not currently work for the Department of the Interior and have status. The good news though is that the Interior Business Center often recruits using an Area of Consideration of "all U.S. citizens. "That means we're looking for you! If you have any question as to whether you are within the area of consideration after reviewing the vacancy announcement, contact the point of contact listed on the announcement.

What is selective placement factor?

A selective placement factor is a special qualification that is in addition to the minimum requirements for a position. Applicants who do not meet this special requirement are ineligible for further consideration.

Federal Terms and Lingo Within the Vacancy Announcement

Whether you've applied to federal jobs before or are brand new to the process, you will undoubtedly come across many terms, lingo and acronyms that are unfamiliar. We've listed some of the most common questions to help you navigate the federal hiring process.

I see a large salary range for the position to which I'm applying. How do I know how much the job will pay?

As a federal agency, IBC falls under the federal pay system. For white-collar employees, pay is set under the "General Schedule." The General Schedule has a basic rate and a locality adjustment, depending on the location of the position. The General Schedule comprises 15 grades that are annotated by "GS" (grades GS-1 through GS-15) with ten steps within each grade. Our vacancy announcements include pay ranges from step 1 to step 10 for each grade advertised. So, as an example, an Information Technology Specialist (occupational series 2210) at the 13 grade level will be shown as GS-2210-13, and the salary shown will indicate a range from step 1 to step 10.

Some announcements will show more than one GS level. This indicates that the position may be filled at any of the grade ranges indicated. For example, an announcement that shows GS-2210-13/14 means the job can be filled at either the GS-13 or GS-14 level. What grade level a person will come in at will depend on many factors (e.g., past work experience, education).

Blue-collar employees are covered by the Federal Wage System. There are a number of local wage areas covered by the FWS. FWS employees are paid by the hour.

Senior Executive Service and Senior Level positions are covered by their respective pay systems.

You can find specific salary information for grades and locations on the Office of Personnel Management website.

I see an announcement saying the job has a full-performance level of the next grade. What does this mean?

For example, an announcement that shows GS-510-11 and says the job has a full performance level to the GS-12 means the job will be filled at the GS-11 level and there is promotion potential to the GS-12. Promotion potential means that you may be promoted to the next grade level without further competition (applying for the job) as long as you meet all of the qualification requirements for the next grade level.

What do the references to competitive and excepted service mean?

It’s likely you have not encountered these terms in previous job searches if you have not applied for federal jobs. Competitive service jobs are subject to civil service laws that have been passed by Congress. These laws ensure that applicants and employees receive fair and equal treatment in the hiring process. They give Interior Business Center hiring managers broad authority to review applicants from a number of recruitment sources before determining the best qualified candidates based on job related criteria.

The excepted service is excepted from these competitive service requirements. They are not subject to the same appointment, pay and position classification rules. Most are still subject to preference for qualified veterans.

What does "career" and "career-conditional" mean?

Career and career-conditional are types of appointments that are obtained through the competitive examining process. They convey status within the federal government. The Interior Business Center hires most employees as career or career-conditional appointments. Other types of appointments the Interior Business Center tends to make are "temporary" and "term."

I see references to "reinstatement." What does this mean?

Reinstatement allows a former federal employee to reenter the federal workforce without competing with the public in a competitive vacancy announcement. You may apply for any position that is open to all sources, but you may also apply for jobs only open to status candidates.

To be eligible for reinstatement, you must have held a career or career-conditional appointment as a federal employee at some time in the past. There is no time limit on reinstatement eligibility for those who have veterans preference or those who have acquired career tenure by completing three years of creditable service.

If you held a career-conditional appointment, you can receive reinstatement consideration up to three years after your date of separation from federal service. Once that eligibility period expires, you must compete with the public for a federal job.

Please note that reinstatement eligibility does not guarantee a job offer.

What does the probationary period entail?

The one-year probationary period occurs during an employee's first year of employment under most career or career-conditional appointments. This probationary period is used to monitor an employee's job performance and personal conduct on the job.

What does three-year career tenure mean?

Career tenure is automatically obtained once you complete three years of creditable service as a career-conditional appointment, career appointment, reinstatement eligible or transfer eligible. It must include service under an appointment based on or leading to competitive status and the three-year period must begin and end as a permanent, non-temporary employee in the competitive service. Once career tenure has been earned, it's yours for life.

What is veterans preference?

Veterans preference grants preference in the hiring process to certain veterans who apply under delegated examining (open to the public). It recognizes the economic loss suffered by citizens who have served our country in uniform in times of strife, restores veterans to a favorable competitive position for government employment, and acknowledges the larger obligation owed to disabled veterans. Historically, Congress has reserved preference for those who were either disabled, who served in combat areas, or who served during certain periods of time. Therefore, not all military veterans may be eligible for preference in the hiring process. See www.fedshirevets.gov for additional information.

What is the requirement regarding the Selective Service?

All male applicants born after 12/31/1959 are eligible for appointment only after registering with the Selective Service System. Visit the Selective Service System website for further information about registering.

What is CTAP and ICTAP?

Career Transition Assistance Plan (CTAP) provides priority consideration to individuals who have been, or are likely to be, separated by reduction-in-force, also known in the private sector as a layoff.

The Interagency Career Transition Assistance Plan (ICTAP) provides priority consideration of displaced employees or former employees of other federal agencies. Applicants must be determined to be well qualified for the specific vacancy in order to receive special selection priority.

Where can I find more information?

We have tried to address many of the questions and topics our applicants are likely to encounter. For additional information on terms not listed here, please visit the full glossary of federal terms on the USAJOBS website.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions and Information Fact Sheets are available at OPM's USAJOBS website at www.usajobs.gov/Help/.

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