Skip Navigation

Vacancy Questions Preview

Vacancy Questions Preview

Grade: 08
To be eligible for this position at this grade level, you must meet the basic requirements below.

To be minimally qualified at the GS-08 grade level, you must meet have one year or twelve (12) months of specialized experience equivalent to the next lower grade level (GS-07) in the Federal government. Specialized experience is experience that is related to the work of this position and has provided you with the competencies required for successful job performance. You may have gained this experience in a full-time secretary, management assistant, personnel assistant, legal assistant position, and other similar positions where you work in a complex organization with subordinate organizational entities, requiring the establishment and maintenance of extensive internal procedures and reporting systems. Your sample tasks may have included: screening calls and visitors to the office, referring to staff members and forwarding to the supervisor only those calls or visitors requiring that person's attention; scheduling appointments and making commitments for the supervisor to attend meetings, luncheons, etc., without prior approval; reading all incoming correspondence, determining proper action, at times preparing answers before referring to the supervisor; reviewing outgoing correspondence and reports prepared by professional employees in the organization, ensuring proper format, mathematical correctness, correct grammatical content, and ascertaining that all necessary coordination of facts has been completed and is in accordance with established policy; responsible for budget accounts allotted to the office; explaining non-technical policies and procedures promulgated by the office after obtaining clarification from source; making recommendations and decisions in establishing priorities among actions on administrative matters requested by various employees or organizations; taking and distributes minutes of meetings; instructing and assists other secretaries on procedural matters such as the correct procedures to follow in preparing correspondence; and preparing correspondence for the supervisor's signature

* 1.Which of the following is true about your experience?
  1. I have at least one (1) year of specialized experience
  2. I do not have the required experience.


Grade: 09
To be eligible for this position at this grade level, you must meet the basic requirements below.

To be minimally qualified at the GS-09 grade level, you must meet have one year or twelve (12) months of specialized experience equivalent to the next lower grade level (GS-08) in the Federal government. Specialized experience is experience that is related to the work of this position and has provided you with the competencies required for successful job performance. You may have gained this experience in a full-time secretary, management assistant, personnel assistant, legal assistant position, and other similar positions where you work in a large organization subdivided into several subordinate levels, where formal policies, procedures, and reporting requirements are necessary. Your work is completed under general supervision and your supervisor sets the overall objectives of the work, and from time-to-time, gives specific assignments with a brief explanation of the assignment's purpose. You set the deadlines for most of the work to be done. You perform the duties of the job independently, referring only the most complex problems to the supervisor. Many situations and conflicts arise which require you to determine the approach to resolve them. Your work is reviewed to ensure that the overall objectives of the position are met. Your sample tasks may include: receiving all visitors and telephone calls to the office, determining the nature of call or business of visitors; decided to whom visitors are referred; making appointments for the supervisor, establishing priorities, setting up, rescheduling, or refusing appointments, accepting or declining invitations to meetings, and arranging for representation by a subordinate official when that is desirable.

* 1.Which of the following is true about your experience?
  1. I have at least one (1) year of specialized experience
  2. I do not have the required experience.


Grade: All Grades
Thank you for your interest in applying for the position of Secretary. As you are working through this application, it may appear that we are asking the same question over again. We strive to make the application process easy for our candidates and each question is specifically geared to gain information about your education or experience. Please read each question carefully and answer appropriately.

Candidates must meet the typing proficiency and office automation skills, as well as the experience and/or education required for this position.

* 1.This position requires office automation skills. Indicate your skill in using office automation technology by selecting either 1 or 2 below.
  1. I have experience and/or training using an electronic typewriter, word processor, microcomputer, or computer terminal using a standard typewriter-style keyboard with additional function keys and skill in operating related equipment such as printers or modems. I have performed work using office automation systems, software, practices and procedures.
  2. I do not have the experience or training described.


* 2.This position requires a qualified typist with a minimum typing speed of 40 words per minute (based on a 5-minute sample with three or fewer errors). Indicate your level of proficiency by selecting either 1 or 2 below.
  1. Yes, I can accurately type at least 40 words per minute (based on a five minute sample with three or fewer errors).
  2. No, I cannot accurately type at least 40 words per minute (based on a five minute sample with three or fewer errors).


The next set of questions draw primarily on your experiences in working with and relating to others in a work setting. In each of the questions in this section, you are asked to indicate how you would be most likely to respond in a given situation. No special training or experience is required to answer these questions. Identify from the response options the one that best represents how you would handle the situation. Select the response that is closest to how you would be most likely to actually handle the situation, not the response that you think others might select or the response that you think is expected.

* 3.A new employee just reported to your unit within the last week. One of his duties is to access taxpayer records using one of the IRS computer systems. He has yet to receive his login ID and password. He asks you if he can use your logon ID and password so he can start his duties right away. What would you do?
  1. Give him your login ID and password knowing that he needs to get his work done.
  2. Tell him to ask another co-worker/mentor.
  3. Tell him to talk to his manager.
  4. Tell him that you cannot do that, but you will be happy to assist him in requesting his login ID and password.


* 4.You are entering time into the time and attendance database when an employee asks you to include two hours of overtime for the previous night and indicates that they will get their timesheet signed by their supervisor at a later time. You would:
  1. Record the two hours overtime and have the employee initial her timesheet. Tell the employee to provide a time stamp which indicates the hours worked.
  2. Tell the employee that she needs to discuss the issue with her supervisor to have the timesheet adjusted accordingly.
  3. Tell the employee that until it is documented, you are unable to enter the overtime.
  4. Take the information from the employee and discuss it with either your supervisor or her supervisor.


* 5.One of your primary responsibilities as a secretary is to ensure that time worked by employees is input by close of business every other Friday. If you fail to complete this task accurately and timely some of your employees will not get paid correctly. You have 15 employees in your group and one of the employees is chronically late in getting his timecard to you each pay period. What would you do?
  1. Input the employee's time with what you believe to be correct without his timecard and make corrections later when he submits his timecard to you.
  2. Inform the employee that next time he is late; you will not input his time.
  3. Explain the situation to your supervisor and ask her to speak to the employee.
  4. Speak with the employee and explain to him why he needs to get their timecard to you in a timely manner.


* 6.You will be responsible for answering the phone for your work unit, taking messages, routing calls to the appropriate staff and determining the nature of the call. There are three phone calls at the same time for your supervisor, who has explicitly state that he is not to be interrupted. One caller is the Director (your supervisor's boss), one caller is your supervisor's spouse and one call is the auto mechanic. What would you do?
  1. Ask all three callers to call back because your supervisor is currently busy.
  2. Explain that your supervisor is currently busy and take message from the three callers.
  3. Ask each caller for the nature of the call. If none of the calls are an emergency, resolve what you can and inform them that you will have your supervisor return each call when he is available.
  4. Interrupt your boss with the Director's call.


* 7.You were sent to pick up an important package from another office by your supervisor. Upon arriving at the designated office, you are told that the package is not ready to be picked up. What would you do?
  1. Find out when the package will be ready for pick up and return at that time.
  2. Return to your office and inform your supervisor that the package was not ready.
  3. Ask to speak to the manager of the designated office where you are picking up the package.
  4. Call back to your office and talk with your supervisor about the situation.


* 8.You have prepared a presentation for secretaries explaining office procedures. An hour before the presentation you learn that in addition to the secretaries there will also be office clerks and supervisors attending. What will you do?
  1. Give the same presentation as you originally planned without acknowledging the change.
  2. Go to your supervisor and tell her that you would like to postpone the presentation in order to be more prepared.
  3. Use the time before your presentation to do some fast editing so the presentation will be beneficial to everyone in attendance.
  4. Explain to the audience that you weren't aware of the change in the audience. Apologize then give the presentation as prepared.


* 9.You received a request from a Congressional aide asking for a meeting with your supervisor. His calendar is full and the request for a meeting is unable to be accommodated. What would you do?
  1. Explain that the calendar is booked and that they will have to call back when she has another date.
  2. Explain that the calendar is booked and ask if someone else other than your supervisor would be able to attend the meeting.
  3. Refer the aide to your supervisor.
  4. Ask your supervisor if he would like to make time on the calendar for the meeting.


* 10.An employee needs to get his parking pass renewed. The passes have arrived in your office but your office does not renew parking passes. What would you do?
  1. Refer the employee to parking pass renewal handbook.
  2. Tell the employee parking pass renewal is not a function that your office performs and refer them to the personnel office.
  3. Locate the parking pass renewal contact person and refer the employee to that person.
  4. Tell the employee that all administrative questions should be directed to an immediate supervisor.


* 11.It is almost time for you to leave for the day when an upset taxpayer enters the office. The taxpayer asks for someone who is not in the office. What would you do?
  1. Tell the taxpayer to come back tomorrow.
  2. Take a message and tell the taxpayer to call tomorrow. Apologize to the taxpayer.
  3. Look for someone else in the office to help the taxpayer.
  4. Ask the taxpayer if there might be something you can do. Listen carefully, to find out the problem and if possible provide the answer.


* 12.You are responsible for written correspondence in response to a taxpayer inquiry. You notice an error in the completed product that is ready to be sent out to the taxpayer. What would you do?
  1. Contact the party or parties involved in the creation of said correspondence to clarify the situation.
  2. Let the correspondence go forward without comment or correction.
  3. Contact your manager for directions.
  4. Take it upon yourself to make the necessary corrections.


* 13.It's Thursday afternoon and you are entering time and attendance data for your unit. It must be completed by Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. and submitted to your supervisor for approval. There is one employee who says he's too busy to give you his timesheet. What do you do?
  1. You tell him if you don't receive his timesheet by the end of the day, he won't get paid.
  2. You enter in his time from last week and you give him until 8:00 a.m. Friday morning to receive his timesheet.
  3. You tell him that you must have it by COB today or you will refer the situation to his manager.
  4. You tell him that you will make an exception and he can give it to you by 9:00 a.m. the next day.


* 14.You are assigned to an office where there are ten groups and six of them have been assigned secretaries. That leaves four groups without secretaries. You notice that the clerical tasks in the four other groups are not getting done or are being completed by the supervisors of the groups. What would you do?
  1. Nothing, because it is none of your business and you have enough work to do.
  2. Tell your supervisor that you have a friend they can hire.
  3. Meet with the other secretaries in the office and suggest sharing the workload.
  4. Tell your supervisor that you would be willing to take over some of the tasks in the other groups.


* 15.A confidential letter is received in the office on Friday at 11:30 a.m. for your supervisor. The envelope indicates that an immediate response is required by close of business that day. Your supervisor left the office at 11:00 a.m. and will not return until the following Tuesday. What would you do?
  1. Put the envelope in your supervisor's in-basket with an expedite note attached to it for Tuesday.
  2. Open the envelope to ascertain if it is something that you can respond to for your supervisor.
  3. Call the sender to let her know that your supervisor has left for the day and will not return until Tuesday.
  4. Give the envelope to the person who has been authorized to act on behalf of your supervisor.


* 16.You have established a suspense file for an action document for your supervisor. The response is due by close of business tomorrow. As you are leaving for your scheduled lunch break, you conduct a follow-up check with your supervisor regarding the response status, and he/she has no recollection of the document in question. What would you do?
  1. Remind the supervisor of the document in question by giving him the document title and the date and time you gave it to him.
  2. Pull your copy and give it to the supervisor so he can respond in a timely fashion.
  3. Pull your copy and make yourself available to assist in the research necessary for the supervisor to respond timely.
  4. Inform your supervisor that after you return from your scheduled lunch break, you will assist him to find the original document so he can respond by the deadline.


* 17.You are responsible for a weekly report on the productivity of the group. The agents in the group are to provide you with the technical contents for the report; you compile the data and produce the final report. This week two of the agents fail to provide you with the required data. What would you do?
  1. Confront the agents whose data is missing demanding the information then update the manager on what has occurred.
  2. Contact the manager and inform him/her of the situation.
  3. Create the weekly report without all the data.
  4. Do nothing and wait for next week's data.


* 18.Your supervisor is on vacation. A clerk from another section comes in and requests a personnel file on another employee from your supervisor's file cabinet. What will you do?
  1. Locate the file and give it to the clerk.
  2. Explain that you cannot give out any personnel files until your supervisor returns.
  3. Call your supervisor's boss to ask permission to relinquish the file.
  4. Instruct the clerk to have her supervisor prepare a formal request for the file.


* 19.One of the duties is to open incoming mail, review the contents and give to the addressee. When reviewing the contents you realize there are several requests for information that you can handle. What would you do?
  1. Give the mail to the addressees.
  2. Prepare responses to the request and send them out.
  3. Give the mail to the addressee with notes attached stating your ability to assist with the request.
  4. After researching the request you prepare a response. When you have completed the response ask your supervisor to review your response.


* 20.Which software applications do you have experience with?
  1. Excel
  2. Word
  3. PowerPoint
  4. Access
  5. None of the above


* 21.Select the description below that best describes your experience.
  1. I can open and edit and save a Word document.
  2. I can create, edit, and print standardized products.
  3. I can do 1 and 2 above, plus insert columns and tables into the document.
  4. None of the above.


* 22.Select the description below that best describes your experience.
  1. I can open and edit Excel spreadsheets.
  2. I can create, edit, and print Excel spreadsheets.
  3. I can do 1 and 2 above, plus insert borders, shading, and formulas into the spreadsheet.
  4. None of the above.


* 23.You have been asked to do a review of the written correspondence procedures and make any needed updates to the procedures. What would you do?
  1. Find any previous correspondence procedures and submit them as your work.
  2. Make all changes by yourself and send them out to the staff.
  3. Pull together a team of other secretaries to review and come up with appropriate changes.
  4. Request input on proposed changes from managerial staff.


* 24.You are given responsibility for tracking the travel budget. The current process is being done manually on paper. You know it would be easier to maintain if it was automated but you do not have computer training. What would you do?
  1. Explain to your manager that you cannot perform this duty without computer training.
  2. Continue to track the travel budget manually.
  3. Teach yourself how to use the computer and present the new product to your supervisor.
  4. Prepare the travel budget manually and request computer training.


* 25.You are responsible for training new secretaries. You have recently attended training on a new procedure that you are required to share with these secretaries. The training was informative but there are slides and a video that does not include realistic examples. You are concerned that the training will not be effective and could be very confusing for a new secretary. What would you do?
  1. Conduct the training as directed showing the slides and video you were given.
  2. Speak with the instructors to see if there is any other training material.
  3. Revise the training material so that it will be useful to the new secretaries.


* 26.Please select the answer that best describes your reading skills.
  1. Reads, understands and follows written instructions to complete work assignments.
  2. Reads technical information and determines how to apply its concept to the job.
  3. Reads technical information (for example, manuals, books or reports) and interprets the information for others.






This is a Federal job application system. Providing false information, creating fake IDs, or failing to answer all questions truthfully and completely may be grounds for not hiring, for disbarment from Federal employment, or for dismissal after the applicant begins work. Falsifying a Federal job application, attempting to violate the privacy of others, or attempting to compromise the operation of this system may be punishable by fine or imprisonment (US Code, Title 18, section 1001).