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In addition to other hiring processes (that is, transfer and reinstatements), state employers use eligibility lists that are created by the examination process to make appointments. In order to be eligible for appointment to a state civil service classification, you must first take an examination to obtain list eligibility. Examination bulletins provide important information regarding the exam that you'll need to review carefully. If you meet the requirements on an examination bulletin, you may apply to take the exam. Examination staff will review your application and make a final determination regarding your admission into the examination. Be careful, however--meeting the entrance requirements does not ensure you a place on the eligible list. Following is some basic information that will help you to be more competitive in state civil service examinations.

 
   

Examination Bulletins
When the Board is conducting testing for a classification, the Board's Examination Section and/or SPB publishes an examination bulletin. The Examination Section distributes copies of each bulletin to all sections and district offices for posting and records the examination on the Exam Hotline at 916-322-9703 or 916-323-5180. You can obtain a copy of an exam bulletin from the Board's Personnel Office, at SPB offices, and online at eBOE or http://exams.spb.ca.gov/capprd.htm. (Exam bulletins are listed on SPB's website at the request of individual state departments.)

Bulletin Information
Typically, exam bulletins are available from two to three weeks prior to the examination's final filing date. A state exam bulletin provides the following information:

Information about the position--job title, description of the position, duties, salary, and job qualifications.

Details about the examination--final filing date for applications, date by which MQs must be met, the kind of examination you'll be required to take, date of a written examination, or anticipated month(s) when interviews may be held, and, if applicable, anticipated list establishment date.

Scope of the examination--specific knowledge and abilities covered in each part of the exam.

Kinds of Examinations
Written and interview exams are probably the most common kinds of examinations, but there are also several other types of examinations and examination elements. Listed below are typical ways an examination may be administered.

Education and Experience
Examiners evaluate competitors on information submitted in the standard application, STD 678. In some cases supplemental information is required.

Supplemental Questionnaire
Competitors are required to complete a supplemental application in addition to the regular standard state application. In order to remain in the examination, the supplemental application requires competitors to provide their accomplishments in critical skill areas for the class being tested.

Scannable Application Questionnaire
Competitors mark their responses to questions on a form with specifically defined choices regarding their education, life and work experience, knowledge, and ability. This form combines standard application information with the actual exam questions.

Qualification Appraisal Panel Interview
The qualification appraisal panel (QAP) interview is commonly called an oral examination or oral interview. There are two types of QAP interviews-patterned and structured. In both types, examiners ask the competitor a series of questions developed from the "Scope" portion of the examination bulletin. Both patterned and structured questions and expected responses are based on the factors considered of prime importance to the classification, which are listed under the "Scope of the Interview" on the examination bulletin.

Patterned interviews--Competitors appear before a panel of two or more evaluators who ask predetermined questions, evaluate competitors' responses, and assign ratings based on previously defined rating criteria.

Structured interviews--Prior to appearing before the interview panel, competitors are given a specified amount of time to prepare responses to predetermined questions or problems. Competitors' responses are generally discussed with the panel during the interview.

Promotional Readiness Examination Report/Statement of Qualifications
Competitors must complete a self-evaluation form giving specific examples of experiences and achievements that relate to factors of the promotional class. Supervisors and/or second-level reviewers may be required to add comments or rate competitors' demonstrated ability to perform at the level being tested.

Multiple Choice Written Test
Competitors take a written exam that tests for specific, well-defined, and job-related knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Writing Proficiency Test
Examiners give competitors a topic and ask them to prepare a written narrative response. This type of test is used to evaluate competitors' ability to express themselves in writing and in organizing and integrating their ideas.

Limited Examination and Appointment Program
LEAP examinations and placement are limited to a specific series of identified job classifications specified under the general title Limited Examination and Appointment Program Candidate. The LEAP selection process consists of a two-part examination-a readiness evaluation interview and an on-the-job evaluation. No written test is required. For more information regarding the LEAP, contact SPB, your local Department of Rehabilitation, or the Board's LEAP Coordinator in the EEO Office. The following are the Board of Equalization's LEAP Identified Classes (including comparable classifications for certification lists):
Account Clerk II
Accounting Technician
Accountant Trainee
Assistant Information Systems Analyst
Business Taxes Representative
Computer Operator
Graduate Legal Assistant
Information Systems Technician
Key Data Operator
Mailing Machines Operator I
Office Assistant (Typing) Ranges A & B
Office Assistant (General) Ranges A & B
Office Technician (Typing)
Office Technician (General)
Programmer I
Research Analyst I (various specialties)
Staff Services Analyst
Tax Auditor, Board of Equalization (comparable class for Auditor I)
Tax Counsel (comparable class for Staff Counsel)
Tax Technician (comparable class for Program Technician)
Word Processing Technician

State Application
If you're interested in taking a particular examination, review the entire bulletin carefully to determine specific filing requirements and application forms needed. The bulletin will indicate where and how to file for a particular examination such as "file-in-person," specific locations only, mailing to a certain location, or other special filing requirements.

For each exam you're interested in, you must fill out an original state application, STD 678. This form is available at Board headquarters in the downstairs Reception Office or the Personnel Transaction Section. Or you can get it through SPB or EDD offices. Finally, you may access the application online at www.spb.ca.gov or through eBOE. Be sure to submit your application to the appropriate testing office before the final filing date indicated on the examination bulletin. Applications for examination are only accepted during the filing period for that particular examination (that is, between the bulletin release date and the final filing date, or filed in person during specified hours).

To mail an application, use the U.S. Postal Service, and be sure the envelope is postmarked no later than the final filing date, or hand-deliver your application to ensure timely delivery. Applications sent by inter-office mail and received after the final filing date will not be accepted. Remember that your application is the first impression you make. Take extra time to review your application to ensure that it is neat and legible, has complete information, and contains no grammar or spelling errors. When participating in an examination, it is important to have a package that describes your experience and reflects your strengths and abilities. When applying for an examination you must always complete and submit a standard state application, but instead of completing the "Employment History" section, you may choose to attach your resume.

Note: If you substitute a resume for the Employment History Section, you must include all required information--dates of employment, hours worked per week, salary, and so forth. Of course, your application/resume should always be either typed or neatly printed and free of grammar or spelling errors.

Special Testing Arrangements
If you need an accessible test location, an interpreter, or other special testing arrangements because of a disabling condition or your religious beliefs, be sure to mark the appropriate box in Part 2 of the application. You will be contacted and necessary arrangements will be made.

Notification
When the examining department receives your application (and resume if you choose to include it), you will be notified whether you qualify to take the exam. Your application will be reviewed to determine whether you meet the minimum qualifications (MQs) through experience and/or education required for admittance to the examination. If the review of your application indicates that you do not meet the MQs on the examination announcement, you will receive a letter stating the reasons why you have not qualified to participate. You will also be provided an opportunity to submit additional information to support your qualifications. However, you must do so within the time limit indicated in the letter.

Taking the Exam
If you meet the MQs, you will be notified about the next phase of the examination process. Here are some general tips that may assist you when it's time to take the exam:

Review the examination bulletin and research information referenced, especially these sections: "The Position," "Examination Information--Scope: Knowledge, Skills and Ability," and "Personal Characteristics."

Review the classification specifications and other applicable materials.

Know what departments use the position you're testing for, and talk to several people already in the position to find out what it entails.

Review and be prepared to discuss the details of your application.

Prepare to discuss your present and past experience and how it relates to and qualifies you for the classification you're testing for.

Written Examinations
Employers may choose to give written exams for classifications that will define specific job-related knowledge, skills, and abilities. Here are some tips for taking written exams:

Read and follow all instructions. Don't make the mistake of assuming that you know what the instructions are saying before careful review.

Time yourself. During the test, see how many minutes you have for each part of the test, and count the number of questions. This will tell you how long you have for each question. Check yourself after every few questions.

Don't look back. Once you have answered a question don't change your answer. It has been proven that your first impression is generally your best impression.

Multiple choice questions. Read both the question and all the choices before you answer the question. Often these types of questions will have two or three obviously wrong answers, so eliminate them first and concentrate on the remaining possible answers.

True or false questions. Always answer these questions, even if you must guess.

Paragraph interpretation questions. Read each question thoroughly and make sure you know what is being asked. Sometimes it helps to read the answer choices first and then read the paragraph.

Oral (Interview) Examinations
A qualification appraisal or promotional readiness interview (frequently referred to as the QAP) is a competitive examination intended to assess your knowledge, skills, and abilities for the classification you're being tested for. An interview panel evaluates how well your experience, education, and personal qualifications have prepared you to perform the duties of the classification. The panel conducting your interview will likely be composed of two or three members (experts in the technical area), plus a chairperson. The panel will conduct the interview according to SPB instructions and standards.

The content of the interview will include questions derived from the knowledge and ability section in the classification specification and examination bulletin. In the interview, the chairperson will introduce the other panel members and give you a chance to get settled. The panel members realize that appearing for an interview doesn't happen every day and that it is quite natural for you to feel a bit apprehensive. Here are some tips to prepare for an exam interview:

Take the time to read all the interview instructions you receive.

Be good to yourself the day of the interview. If you feel good, you will portray a positive image.

Dress appropriately.

You're competing, so don't be passive! When asked a question, respond directly. Avoid one-word responses like "yes" and "no." The exam interview questions are meant to give you an opportunity to present meaningful information. By the same token, avoid making speeches.

Never complain about such things as "the system" or "management" or "my lousy supervisor." This is not the time to voice complaints.

Answer questions in terms of what is good for the organization, not only what is good for you.

Don't talk too long. If the panel has heard enough, they will change the subject. If you're unsure, ask the panel whether you should continue with the subject matter.

Be positive about yourself! Don't apologize. If you are negative about yourself, the panel may also doubt you.

Be enthusiastic about your past jobs and the things that you would like to do in the future.

If there is a break between the panel's questions-relax. It's their job to keep the interview moving smoothly. (Use the time to collect your thoughts.)

At the end of the interview, the panel will ask if you have anything you'd like to add. You should be prepared to add something positive, present any additional information you believe is important, or to reiterate something that you would like to emphasize.

Always end the interview on a strong positive note. Thank the members for their time and attention.

List Eligibility
Four to six weeks after all phases of the examination process are completed, the score of each competitor is computed, a list of eligible candidates is established, and competitors are notified of their final scores. Successful candidates are divided into ranks by score. Scores are determined by how well candidates demonstrated proficiency in the weighted portion(s) of the exam.
The exam results will list the names of all successful competitors arranged in order of the score achieved by rank.

Certification Lists
Once the eligible list has been established, the hiring district or unit may request a "certification" of this list to use in the hiring process. The certification list will contain the names of the individuals who indicated interest in that location, tenure (permanent or limited term), and time base (full-time, part-time, or intermittent). Eligible candidates will appear on the list in rank order. This ranking may be impacted by state restriction of appointment (SROA) lists or reemployment lists that may take precedence. Based on state law and the classification, some certification lists are rule of three ranks, while others are rule of three names.
Rule of Three Ranks
Individuals with identical scores will be listed in the same rank. While there may be more than three ranks listed, only individuals in the top three interested ranks are considered reachable, thus making all of those individuals eligible for employment. As appointments are made and the ranks are cleared, the next lowest rank becomes reachable. Once you are in the top three ranks, you are reachable and eligible to apply for job vacancies, or you may be contacted for an interview for a specific job.
Rule of Three Names
When individuals receive the same score in an examination, the order in which their names appear on the list is determined randomly (selected by the computer), with only one name per rank. Only the first three interested individuals on the list are reachable and eligible for employment.

Once you are on an eligibility list, you may begin to receive contact letters as openings become available. Contact letters are sent to those who are reachable and ready for a job. If the eligibility list has more candidates than needed for the interview, a random computer selection program is used to choose the candidates that will receive a job inquiry. As a result, not all candidates in a reachable rank will receive a contact letter for every vacancy.

You can look for Board vacancies yourself on eBOE or by reviewing the weekly position vacancy announcements distributed throughout the agency. You can also check the vacant positions (VPOS) database on SPB's website, www.spb.ca.gov.

If you fail to reply to one job inquiry (contact letter), your name is placed "Inactive" for that list so it's important to respond to all inquiries. If you respond, declining three inquiries, your name is removed from the list.

Note: Job inquiries for promotional positions may be handled differently. If you receive a contact letter from a promotional list, be sure to check with the Board's Personnel Office before you fail to respond to or decline the inquiry.

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