A subject matter expert, or SME, is a "person with bona fide expert knowledge about what it takes to do a particular job. First-level supervisors are normally good SMEs. Superior incumbents in the same or very similar positions and other individuals can also be used as SMEs if they have current and thorough knowledge of the job's requirements" (Delegated Examining Operations Handbook, http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/hiring-authorities/competitive-hiring/deo_handbook.pdf).
Other possible SMEs can include former supervisors or incumbents with recent experience; as long as they have bona fide expert knowledge about a particular job, they can serve as an SME. If – and when – possible, reach out to as many resources as you can to increase the number of SMEs. A larger number of SMEs not only ensures you are capturing all of the key requirements of the job, but it also provides multiple points-of-view regarding the criticality of the tasks and competencies.
For more information regarding job analysis, please visit OPM’s Assessment and Selection site, http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/assessment-and-selection/, or contact us at Assessment_Information@opm.gov.
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