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Frequently Asked Questions Assessment Policy

  • No, you do not need to conduct a job analysis each time you fill a position.  However, if the position is unlike any other position in your agency or if the nature of the position is such that its requirements are likely to change with relative frequency (e.g., information technology positions), you may want to review the position at least annually to ensure that your selection tools are still valid.  After performing the review, you can determine whether a new or updated job analysis is needed.

    For more information regarding job analysis, please visit OPM’s Assessment and Selection website, http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/assessment-and-selection/, or contact us at Assessment_Information@opm.gov.
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  • The greater the hiring manager's involvement and contribution to the selection process, the more likely it is that the Human Resources Specialist will be aware of the key job requirements and be able to properly screen the candidates.

    Also, the more involved hiring managers (and supervisors) are in the recruiting and assessment processes, the more likely they are to receive high-quality candidates. Their input ensures the correct (and critical) tasks and competencies are being included in the job analysis and assessment measures, which, in turn, ensures those are the critical competencies addressed by the candidates.

    Hiring managers should also be aware of the May 11,2010, Presidential Memorandum entitled "Improving the Federal Recruitment and Hiring Process." Section 1 of that Memorandum (Directions to Agencies) requires hiring managers and supervisors to be "more fully involved in the hiring process, including planning current and future workforce requirements, identifying the skills required for the job, and engaging actively in the recruitment and, when applicable, the interviewing process." (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/presidential-memorandum-improving-federal-recruitment-and-hiring-process)
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  • The number of content areas and questions will vary depending on how complex the position and competencies are, but a general rule of thumb is to have 4 – 8 competencies (content areas) and 10 to 40 total questions.

    If you have additional questions regarding occupational questionnaires, please contact us at Assessment_Information@opm.gov.
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  • How you score your occupational questionnaire is up to your discretion, but it’s important to have subject matter experts (SMEs) provide input on the proficiency levels for each question (item) and the weighting for each competency (content area).  

    In general, each candidate will receive a score for each item based on their response to the question.   For example, if a question asks a candidate to rate their level of proficiency in processing documents, the ‘higher’ the level of proficiency they select, the higher the score (e.g., 1 = lowest level of proficiency level chosen, 5 = highest level of proficiency level chosen).  

    Once a candidate has completed the occupational questionnaire, their total score will then be used to place them in a category or may be used as part of a larger assessment process.  For more information regarding occupational questionnaires, please visit the Occupational Questionnaire page of the Assessment and Selection website:  http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/assessment-and-selection/occupational-questionnaires/

    If you have further questions regarding occupational questionnaires, please contact us at Assessment_Information@opm.gov.  
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  • Check with your human resources office concerning agency-specific guidelines for documentation, such as what information should be recorded, how long it should be stored, who should hold the information, etc.  Be sure to store all documentation regarding the job analysis in a safe, secure area.

    For more information regarding how long to store job analysis documentation, please see:

    For more information regarding job analysis, please visit OPM’s Assessment and Selection website, http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/assessment-and-selection/, or contact us at Assessment_Information@opm.gov.

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  • In the Presidential Memorandum (Section 1: Directions to Agencies), the second item specifies that valid, reliable tools are to be used for assessing applicants (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/presidential-memorandum-improving-federal-recruitment-and-hiring-process).  Occupational questionnaires improve the applicant experience by reducing the burden of having to supply lengthy KSA (knowledge, skills, and abilities) essay responses when submitting an initial application.   

    The use of occupational questionnaires has become especially relevant given the impact of (and some agencies' reliance on) technology to recruit, screen, and assess applicants; the high applicant volume agencies receive; and the current goal to decrease the time it takes to hire.

    Other benefits of using an occupational questionnaire include that it does not require extensive measurement expertise to create, it is relatively inexpensive and efficient, it has high face validity for applicants, it can be used to assess a wide variety of competencies, it is easy to automate, and because there's not a 'right answer' for applicants to pick, test security is not an issue.
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  • A job analysis "identifies the competencies/KSAs directly related to performance on the job.  It is a systematic procedure for gathering, documenting, and analyzing information about the content, context, and requirements of the job.  It demonstrates that there is a clear relationship between the tasks performed on the job and the competencies/KSAs required to perform the tasks."

    Job analysis data "should be used to develop effective recruitment, selection, performance management, and career development methodologies."

    Job analysis is a foundation for identifying and/or developing assessment tools such as occupational questionnaires, structured interviews, and job knowledge tests.  The information (tasks and competencies) gathered during a job analysis can also be applied to other employment practices such as performance appraisals, promotions, and employee development.

    For more information, please see the Delegated Examining Operations Handbook (http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/hiring-authorities/competitive-hiring/deo_handbook.pdf).

    Please check with your human resources office regarding your agency's job analysis requirements, methodology, documentation, and so forth. 

    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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  • On November 19, 1981, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia resolved a class-action suit that was filed in 1979 (http://archive.opm.gov/luevano_archive/luevano-archive.asp).  The suit alleged that the Professional and Administrative Career Exam (PACE), which the Government used to fill approximately 110 occupations at the GS-5 and GS-7 grade levels, had an adverse impact on the selection of African Americans and Hispanics.

     

    The resolution of the suit (known as the "Luevano consent decree") ended the PACE examination and required the use of alternative assessments for those occupations at the GS-5 and GS-7 grade levels that were once subject to the PACE exam (please see Appendix D of the Delegated Examining Operations Handbook, http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/hiring-authorities/competitive-hiring/deo_handbook.pdf, for a complete listing).

     

    OPM has developed two types of instruments that you may use for filling those occupations:

    • Administrative Careers with America (ACWA) Written Tests; and
    • ACWA Rating Schedules.


    NOTE:  A rating schedule is an evaluation of an applicant's job-related competencies or knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) performed by a rater or by an applicant's self-rating (i.e., occupational questionnaire).  For more information, please see Chapter 2, Section C, of the Delegated Examining Operations Handbook.

     

    For more information regarding ACWA, please see Chapter 2 of the Delegated Examining Operations Handbookhttp://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/hiring-authorities/competitive-hiring/deo_handbook.pdf

     

    If you would like to find out more about ACWA, please contact Assessment_Information@opm.gov.

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  • Contact your technical representative of your staffing system – they should be able to assist you and/or create the occupational questionnaire based upon your specifications.
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  • A structured interview is an assessment method designed to measure job-related competencies by systematically inquiring about a candidate’s behavior in past experiences and in proposed hypothetical situations.  Structured interviews use a standardized questioning and scoring process for all candidates.

    Also, structured interviews generally have more than one person doing the interviewing (called a 'panel'), and all interviewers must come to a consensus on the ratings (scores) they give a candidate's response.  A panel of interviewers may be better able to document and interpret the information.  A panel also reduces the risk of biases in ratings and allows for a diverse (e.g., race and sex) range of interviewers, indicating to the candidate that the organization values diversity and fair treatment.

    For more information about structured interviews, please visit the Structured Interviews page on the Selection and Assessment website (http://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/assessment-and-selection/structured-interviews/). 
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