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.)
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
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
Promotional Readiness Examination Report/Statement
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
Limited Examination and Appointment
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
Account Clerk II
Assistant Information Systems Analyst
Business Taxes Representative
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)
Research Analyst I (various specialties)
Staff Services Analyst
Tax Auditor, Board of Equalization (comparable class for Auditor
Tax Counsel (comparable class for Staff Counsel)
Tax Technician (comparable class for Program Technician)
Word Processing Technician
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.
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
Review the classification specifications and other applicable
Know what departments use the position you're testing for, and
talk to several people already in the position to find out what
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.