Below are some information taken from another USPTO patent examiner hiring forum.
December 12, 2011
I'll like to share some information from the job fair that took place on December 9th and 10th.
1. There a much greater need for the following tech centers : 1600- Biotechnology and Organic Chemistry (chemistry and pharmacology majors), and 2800-Semiconductors, Electrical and Optical Systems and Components (electrical engineering). Secondary areas of need are: 2100 - Computer Architecture, Software, and Information Security, 1700 - Chemical and Materials Engineering, and 3700 - Mechanical Engineering, Manufacturing, Products.
2. Because of factors such as the economy and job market, hiring is heavily based on EXPERIENCE! SPE's and management are looking for BUZZ WORDS in your resume, interview responses, and the pre-interview questionnaire/interest documents given to you on the day of the interview. A point system is in place that documents your clarity of speech, presentation skills and etc.
3. Overall, SPE's and management are looking for applicants that are greatly diversified in their experience(s). For example, a person with a chemistry background who also have experience in molecular biology, immunology, microbiology, engineering and etc. is more likely to get an offer than someone with only chemistry-related experience. They are also looking for people who have written and/or presented scientific information in the form of journals, articles, manuscripts, and so forth.
4. Hiring comes down to the following: 1) total points generated during the interview, 2)recommendation from the interviewer/hiring coordinator to be considered for further review (you will have an idea if you will be recommended after the the interview) and 3) areas of interest in an art unit that's hiring.
5. Start dates: January 17th and January 30th, 2012: Applicants, engineering majors, who interviewed prior to December 9th & 10th (e.g. September, October, and November).
6. Start date: mid February 2012: Applicants who interviewed during the December 9th and 10th Job Fair. In fact, there were so many people at the job fair. These applicants should hear something within a month. So have your documents ready, transcripts and etc.
7. Start date: late March and so forth: Applicants who did not attend the job fair but applied via USAJOBS for the online submission dates of November 28-December 12, 2011. A major disadvantage to this is that applicants who attended the job fair have already interviewed prior to the USA jobs deadline. Moreover, these applicants did not have to wait for Human Resources to deemed them qualified for the position(s) which can take months. If highly recommended, an applicant's material with be sent directly to HR for a job offer and start date. The way the economy is, there's no guarantee that there will be PTA's after February 2012 or March 2012. USPTO is known for taking job offers back as a result of funding. In this case, the early bird gets the worm!
My 2 cents!
December 13, 2011
Although I signed up for the Chemistry Interview Session at the fair, I interviewed with the official Hiring Coordinator for the Electrical Engineering Unit. He along with an EE Primary Examiner informed me that there's a GREAT need for: 1. 1600 - Biotechnology and Organic Chemistry, 2). 2400 - Computer Networks, Multiplex Communication, Video Distribution, and Security and 3). 2800 - Semiconductors, Electrical and Optical Systems and Components. Also, a hiring announcement was made in 1600 - Biotechnology and Organic Chemistry stating the need of examiners. Remember, the last time 1600 hired examiners was for the December 2010 PTA right before the hiring freeze. In fact, I was able to get all the necessary information I needed for a possible USPTO position from a current examiner from Tech Center 1600.
Overall, the EE hiring coordinator that I interviewed with stated that I was a great fit and highly qualified for the GS9 examiner position. Based on his recommendation, my application will be forwarded to the hiring coordinator for 1600. He further stated that since my experience was very diverse in the biomedical sciences, the hiring coordinator for 1600 shouldn't have any problem placing me in an art unit, and I should possibly receive an offer from HR within a month for the February 2012 PTA. I will believe his statements when the offer is in writing. So, this is the info I got from the fair. I know some applicants stated that their interviewer didn't inform them of anything.
December 20, 2011
A current examiner informed me that there's an ABUNDANCE of applicants who applied for the electrical engineering (EE) GS 7/9 positions. Some applicants who interviewed for EE GS 7/9 during the December 2011 job fair stated that technical questions (about 6) were asked in addition to the standard hiring questions (a way for management to distinguish between applicants). So weird! Although I applied and interviewed for Chemistry GS 7/9, my interviewer was the hiring coordinator for EE and he stated that there's an increase number of EE applicants, and more applicants were needed in other engineering sectors. Also, the guy who sat at my waiting table at the job fair was a primary examiner for EE. He mentioned this issue as well. So maybe that's why a lot of EE folks are being rejected. TOO MANY APPLICANTS!!