Special Agent Selection Process: Core Competencies

Applicants for special agent positions at the FBI are evaluated independently using a set of core competencies that are necessary to be successful. This video defines the core competencies and provides tips on how to best incorporate them into an application.

Video Transcript

Human Resources Division Representative: Core competencies are key skills that have been identified as needed to be a successful special agent. For the special agent position, they include leadership, collaboration, organizing and planning, problem-solving/judgment, flexibility/adaptability, initiative and communication. The competencies serve as indicators that demonstrate that you have the skills to do the job. You should demonstrate all of the core competencies throughout the special agent selection process. For example, in the core competency of communication, your application should convey that you can express thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively both orally and in writing. Or in the example of initiative, you should demonstrate how you proactively and creatively respond to problems and tasks.

Another example is organizing and planning. In this area you should be demonstrating how you can establish priorities, timetables and goals. In addition, you should reflect on how you can effectively plan follow-up activities necessary to accomplish goals. The competencies represent a broad skill set required of a successful FBI special agent.

Special Agent: Special agents of the FBI are called upon to demonstrate the core competencies on a daily basis. Special agents lead criminal and national security investigations, collaborate with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, conduct interviews and document their findings with strong oral and written communication skills. Special agents plan and organize federal search and arrest. They proactively identify problems and create solutions. Special agents serve as first responders in often dynamic and changing environments and are often called upon to use sound judgment in life-and-death situations. As an applicant for the special agent position, you must demonstrate examples on your application that you meet these requirements.

Situational samples that you provide in your application will be evaluated and determined whether you progress in the hiring process. It is important that you spend time writing these examples in detail and thoroughly. A good situation example will be a paragraph of approximately six to eight sentences. It would be a good idea to have the definitions available so that you can compare your example with the behaviors requested in the definition to the competency. In the first one or two sentences, clearly establish a situation that you are in a very specific event or circumstance that you plan to address, followed by four to six sentences of action items that you can specifically take credit for to resolve the situation. And then finally conclude with a positive result showing how you addressed the situation that you are writing about. It is very important that you address your situation clearly, concisely and in detail so that our evaluators understand the situation that you are presenting and can give you proper credit.

A well written situational example will be detailed and clearly addressed the competency. For example, for a police officer who is going to address the competency of organizing and planning, the police officer might state "as a police officer I was tasked to execute a search warrant on subject's residence." That is the situation clearly stated in one sentence, followed by action items: "I obtained a search warrant and reviewed the search warrant for legal authority. I then prepared an Operations Plan, selecting search team members and delegating assignments. I then ensured that all the proper supplies and equipment were collected to execute the search. At the search scene, I would manage the scene and monitor the employees to ensure that all items collected were in compliance with a search warrant and properly packaged and handled. I would delegate and assign a representative to transport the evidence to a secure police facility and finally I would provide an inventory of all of the information collected to the prosecutor and the judge. In conclusion, I would state "the search warrant was executed successfully and without any complications and that no one was injured during the execution of the search and the property was obtained in furtherance prosecution of the subject."

Human Resources Division Representative: To sum things up, remember to address all seven core competencies during the special agent selection process. Make sure you are not being too vague with your responses to the core competency questions. Remember in your detailed descriptions to provide the situation, action, and result. Your responses are evaluated and determined how you will be ranked.

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