QA assessments are performed for Divisions, Sections, and Centers (D/S/Cs) at Fermilab on a regular basis. The chances are good that someday you will be interviewed in one. The assessment team will interview you to understand how your work is currently being performed. The following FAQs and their answers tell you the most important things you will need to know if you find yourself participating in a QA assessment.
Why am I being interviewed?
You have been selected to be interviewed because you perform work that is applicable to the requirements the assessment team is examining. For example, if the assessment is examining procurement, and part of your job function is purchasing or procurement, you are a good candidate to be interviewed.
When will I know that I am being interviewed?
People are usually selected for interviews the week before the assessment starts. You should have at least one week notice before you will be interviewed. There are rare occurrences when the assessment team asks to talk to someone not on the interview list. In this case you may have less notice.
How should I prepare for an interview?
If you use a documented work instruction or procedure, you should know how to access the latest version of it and ensure that you are following it. If you produce any records, you should know where the official versions of them are stored. Otherwise, there is no need for you to prepare for an interview because the assessment team is simply looking to see how your work is currently being performed.
Where will the interview take place?
Most interviews will take place in your work area or office in order to make it easy for you to show the assessors what you do. Some interviews may take place in a meeting room.
Who will be in the interview?
Usually two assessment team members and the Quality Assurance Representative (QAR) from your D/S/C will be in the interview. Your direct supervisor is discouraged from being present during the interview to ensure that you are allowed to answer the questions (not your supervisor) and to make you feel comfortable describing what’s being done from your own perspective.
How long will the interview take?
Interviews are scheduled to last thirty minutes to an hour, depending on the subject matter and how deeply the assessment team needs to look at a particular area. Some interviews may be shorter or longer.
How should I behave during the interview?
First of all, relax. You are the expert in what you do and how you do it. Assessment team members are visitors. The purpose of the interview is to gather information about a process or system - it is not about finding fault with an individual; Therefore:
- Take time to think before answering the question
- If the question is unclear, ask for clarification.
- If you don’t know the answer, it is OK to say, “I don’t know” or “My supervisor can answer that.”
Why is Quality Assurance important at Fermilab?
The Fermilab QA Program improves our ability to consistently, dependably, and cost-effectively meet requirements. We use the program to maintain the readiness, reliability, and sustainability of our programs. A QA program is mandated by the Department of Energy (DOE.)
What is the purpose of a QA Assessment?
QA assessments identify areas in need of improvement and set priorities for improvement initiatives. They also identify commendable practices so they may be communicated to other areas of Fermilab where they may be used.
What happens during a QA assessment?
There are 3 main steps to a QA assessment – planning, data gathering, and reporting. The QA team and D/S/C management jointly plan the details and logistics of the assessment. The usual methods of data gathering are document and record review, interviews, and observation of work activities. At the closing meeting any issues found during the assessment are communicated and clarified. The report documents assessment results so the assessed organization may resolve any findings, consider recommendations, and disseminate commendable practices.
What happens with assessment results?
The assessment report is distributed to D/S/C management, the Office of Quality and Best Practices (OQBP) and any others management specifies. Results include:
- Findings, or nonconformance with requirements, for which formal Corrective Action Plans (CAPs) are required.
- Observations, or potential problems, which may benefit the assessed organization if fixed.
- Commendable practices that are reported to other organizations as appropriate.
Where can I get more information on assessments?
More assessment information may be obtained from your division or section QAR, QAE, or by reading the Fermilab Assessment Manual Chapter 4, Independent QA Assessments