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Frequently Asked Questions Assessment Policy

Are agencies allowed to ask applicants to write short, essay style responses when they first apply?

The "Presidential Memorandum on Hiring Reform" ( eliminated the requirement for applicants to submit essay-style demonstrations of their qualifications as part of the initial application process. 

Applicant response formats that have been offered as possible alternatives to lengthy, written demonstrations of competencies or knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) include the following:

  • Brief list of verifying sources (e.g., when and where the applicant gained minimum qualifications)
  • Fill-in-the-blank responses, typically a single word or number
  • Multiple choice responses or self-report ratings (e.g., as used on occupational questionnaires)


Another option is to use a multi-step, hurdled approach such that the written narratives are introduced after the initial application is submitted but before the formation of the Certificate of Eligibles.

For more information, please contact


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