\ afm \ Adjudicator's Field Manual - Redacted Public Version \ Chapter 2 Customer Service. \ 2.6 Professional Service.
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2.6 Professional Service.
This section will first define professional service and then describe what this means in practice by explaining how to interact professionally with applicants.
What is Professionalism
Your behavior should demonstrate that you are representing the U.S. Government and the people of the United States. Your actions will affect the applicant's perceptions of the entire Nation and its Government.
What Does this Mean in Practice
Demonstrate in word and demeanor that conducting interviews is your first priority
The most important element of your job is to conduct eligibility interviews. Therefore, your attitude should reflect the importance of the applications at hand and that conducting interviews is your top priority. If you approach the interview in a bored, frenzied, or distracted manner, your attitude will be conveyed to the interviewee. Similarly, you should never treat the interview as an interruption or a distraction.
Separate the personal from the professional
When you interact with applicants, always remember that you are a professional. Therefore, you should not allow your own personal feelings, beliefs, or experiences to lessen or diminish your professional demeanor.
Maintain control of the interview
In order to ensure that you obtain all of the information you need in an efficient and timely manner, it is important to maintain control of the interview. This means that you should keep the interview focused on the task at hand: determining the applicant's eligibility for the benefit being sought. You can accomplish this by steering the conversation to topics that pertain to eligibility, making sure that your questions shape the interview, and being alert, firm, assertive and businesslike.
Stay under control
If you allow an applicant to upset you or allow prejudices to influence you, you will lose control of the interview. If an applicant says something that upsets you, don't take it personally, remain calm, and do not respond in a similar manner. If you lose your control, the interview can quickly degenerate, and you will have lost the opportunity to obtain the information you need to make a decision.
Your dress should be neat and businesslike and reflect the serious nature of the interview. Neat grooming and good personal hygiene sends a message to the applicant that you are competent and take the process seriously.
Maintain a professional work space
As much as possible, your works pace should convey the importance and seriousness of the proceedings. Maintaining a neat and well-organized work space conveys respect for the applicant and the interview process.
Keep your comments about the applicant focused on the applicant's eligibility for the benefit being sought
The entire purpose of your job is to determine the applicant's eligibility for benefits. You should not discuss with the applicant sensitive matters that do not pertain to the application at hand.
Provide efficient and effective service
As an adjudicator, you must simultaneously balance two important goals: efficiency and effectiveness. You should process applications as efficiently as possible. At the same time, you must conduct effective interviews that provide you with enough information to make correct decisions. From an efficiency perspective, you should speak with your supervisor and review your performance work plan to understand how many interviews per day you are expected to complete. The most important way you can ensure effect
iveness is by knowledgeably applying the laws, regulations, and policies that pertain to Adjudications while interacting with applicants courteously and professionally.
Provide ethical service
employee, you should display a level of judgment, integrity, and self-control that reflects positively upon you and the
. With this in mind, you should understand the standards of conduct and the code of ethics that govern
employees. [See also
] Your standards of conduct should always be consistent with these codes of ethics. It is also important to remember that our standards of conduct may not always be consistent with some of the applicant's cultural expectations. For example, some applicants may offer you gifts or gratuities because they believe it is culturally appropriate to provide such items to government officials, rather than because they are attempting to unfairly influence the outcome of the interview. Depending on the circumstances
, you should explain that such activity is not acceptable. However, it is not necessarily a reason to deny the application. You should, however, bring the situation to the attention of your supervisor, no matter what you believe is the motivation, and follow his or her directions. In most cases, you will need to document for yourself what transpired, and how you and the supervisor resolved the incident.
Don't make derogatory comments about any other person's race, religion, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation
. Such comments are never acceptable.
Don't drink, eat, smoke, chew gum, talk on the telephone, watch TV, or listen to the radio while conducting an interview
. All of these actions suggest that you are not taking the applicant or the application seriously.
Don't bully or belittle an applicant
. While you should always closely question an applicant about his/her application, you should not do so in a bullying or belittling manner.
Don't discipline applicant's children
. In general, it is not acceptable for young children not applying for benefits to accompany the applicant during the interview. (Your local office policy may provide for exceptions in certain circumstances in this regard). If extraordinary circumstances exist, and children do attend the interview and misbehave you should not discipline them. It
appropriate to ask the applicant to control his/her children.