Career Guides >> Browse Articles >> Advice and Options >> GovGuru


The GovGuru Answers Your Career Questions

The GovGuru Answers Your Career Questions

Chris McConnell | GovCentral

You can read GovGuru every Thursday on GovCentral. Send your government career questions to with the subject line “Ask GovGuru”.

I recently completed a positive interview with social security. I was excited by the great benefits, location, etc. When I was not selected and asked why I was told they picked off the grade 5 list, but I applied as a nine. Should I have applied at a lower salary grade to insure inclusion. What goes on between the interviewers and the personnel department? -bbk

Federal Agencies list many early career positions as a GS-5, GS-7, and a GS-9. As you know, these designations are based on education and work experience. The education can range from a four-year undergraduate degree to a two-year graduate degree. In addition, these positions also consider equivalent work experience.

Though I don’t know the particulars of your interview with the Social Security Administration, a lot of factors beyond basic qualifications go into a hiring decision. These can include education, previous experience with the agency as an intern, and compatibility with the larger team.

Since you were brought in for an interview, it seems that you were qualified for a GS-9 position. There is no reason to sell yourself short by applying for a lower-grade that you are over-qualified for. However, I would make sure that your education and experience is aligned with the job announcement. Having a strong KSA (Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities) can definitely improve your chances the next time around.

Here is some information on beefing up your KSA’s:

GovCentral’s Federal KSA Writing Guide

The Importance of KSA’s

Lastly, there is no harm in calling the HR department again and ask them if applying at a lower grade would have affected their hiring decision.

Good luck.

I have an accounting degree, but no accounting work experience. Will this hurt my chances?

Govcentral School Finder

Save time in your search for a degree program. Use Govcentral's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.