Friday, October 1, 2010

2011 PMF Program Application: Open Thread

The PMF Program Office is now accepting applications for the 2011 Presidential Management Fellows Program.

The application and its instructions are here:

If you have applied, are applying, or are planning to apply, and you want to discuss the process or ask questions, consider this an open thread.


  1. I completed and submitted my application October 1st and got nominated by my school on October 6th. My only concern now is the assessment, how can I readily prepare for it? I've done the practice assessments on the PMF website, but I can't gurantee if the options I'd select if thats what they're looking for. Oh so subjective.

  2. I'll run an open thread for assessment preparation once the application period closes, but past experience and some research turned up only a small bit of information. I will gather all of this up again in one post.

    My experience was that there is no meaningful way to prepare for the test beyond familiarizing yourself with the contents of the practice assessment on the PMF web site. The actual assessment is a lot like that, just more questions.

  3. I am finalizing my resume to submit for the 2011 PMF application. So far, there is no KSA section (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities) for the PMF application, unlike in other applications for federal jobs. Maybe this section only becomes available once I submit the resume?

    I have struggled with using keywords in order to give my resume the best chance of being looked at closely by an actual person. Various sites detailing the USAJobs application process recommend studying vacancy announcements closely to pick up the employing agency's priorities. However, with PMF there are multiple potential employers and no particular vacancy announcement.

    I tried searching USAJobs for my "ideal" federal positions and the keywords they use. Do you have any tips for using keywords in PMF resumes?

  4. @Ewan - The approach you've taken so far is the best advice I could give. Find federal jobs that interest you and figure out what they are looking for. One thing you should keep in mind, however, is that while any number of agencies simply use the PMF program as another direct hire method, a good number of them actually understand the value that PMFs have to offer and act accordingly. So what you'll find in these agencies is that what they hire you to do may be similar to other jobs they have listed, but they could be vastly different as well. What this means for your resume writing is that it's not that easy. In absolute terms, you should focus on tailoring your resume to expose anything that matches up with the ECQs rather than meeting one particular job series (unless you have expertise in a field).

  5. Apologies in advance for the length of this comment. I've listed my top questions up-front in case someone can provide a quick answer and doesn't want to read through the details.

    1) Are there additional preparation materials and example questions than those available in the PMF Online Assessment Preparation Guide?

    2) How useful are non-PMF materials, such as LSAT books or the DHS Thinking Manual? It seems like the content of the assessment may have changed (see below), potentially rendering these sources less useful or irrelevant.

    There must be thousands of others in a similar situation right now. We've submitted our PMF applications and been nominated by our institutions. Now we wonder: what comes next?

    I've looked in several places for information on the PMF assessments: the official PMF preparation guide (, blogs, as well as my school’s office of career services. Still I have the feeling my understanding of the process remains fuzzy.

    There seem to be 2 rounds of assessment: an online exam sometime prior to January, and an in-person exam in January, for those selected. The contents of the exams, however, may be different from last year's. The info I find on last year's exam refers to the in-person portion. In previous years, was there an on online exam prior to the in-person exams?

    Here are the differences compared to previous years that I've noted:
    1) The ‘Critical Thinking’ section in previous exams has been replaced by a ‘Situational Judgment’ section.

    2) Past exam takers talked a lot about the logic questions in the exam, which asked you to make inferences based on statements such as "most cats are black." This section seems no longer to exist. Maybe it will be present on the 2011 in-person exams?

    3) Previously, the writing section was a series of writing samples, followed by multiple choice questions about best word choice and grammar. In 2011, it looks like the writing section will be open writing. The example question deals with the advantages and disadvantages of working in public service.

    4) Perhaps most importantly, past exam-takers emphasized that the PMF Assessment Preparation Guide was the best resource for studying. I get the impression it contained many example questions. In contrast, the 2011 online guide provides only a couple examples for each test section.

    Can anyone shed light on these differences? (and whether they really exist?) I’m hoping to find as much revision material I can without wasting time on areas that are no longer relevant to the assessment. Thanks in advance for any info you can offer!

  6. I have seen questions like this before on federal interviews. There is no "right" answer, but there sure is a wrong one. Since retesting the LSAT would cause a lot of people to fail, you are best to think like a manager and try to answer the question as if you were talking about what you should do, and perhaps not what you've done before. Don't emphasize your mistakes by picking that answer. This assessment really determines if they want to work with you, like if you complain a lot or are lazy. As for the writing sample, you need to outline stuff first. They want to see that you can present an opinion as if you actually graduated from school. There is no prep for these assessments because they really want to decide whether they want to work with you, if there was a "right" answer people would just give it, and they would end up working with book worms with no social skills.

    Good luck

  7. It sounds like it will be pretty similar to a section on the Foreign Service exam, so it might help to do some prep with online materials for that.

    I wonder what statistics they'll use to score this-- it seems pretty obvious not to pick the "I would complain" option, but I can't imagine they'd want everyone clicking the "I lead EVERY project" button. I managed to pass the FS exam by being pretty truthful and not self-aggrandizing too much.. so hopefully the same will work for this.

    Great site by the way, thanks!

  8. @jess: I'm glad you like it. I'm not sure how the assessment will be scored, but honesty is probably the best approach.

  9. What do you guys think the implications if you don't finish the writing 150 word minimum

  10. I'm not sure. I would guess elimination since not completing a section means you didn't finish the test and therefore it cannot be graded. That stinks.

  11. I have a question. For the question, where you are asked if you report a colleague lack of doing this in time or whatever, what is the best answer that is preferred. You report to the supervisor. You just talk to the colleague and have him/her shape up. This is a question that many have told me to expect. But, I do no know what is the correct response. Please advise. Thanks!