City of Madison competitive hiring process uses civil service examinations to develop a list of eligible candidates for a position. These examinations are done by Human Resources after applications have been screened for minimum qualifications. Though they are called “civil service exams,” they aren’t limited to testing.

HR Business Analysts work with the hiring managers to make sure the examination process is relevant and up-to-date. All material relating to civil service exams is strictly confidential. This is very important for maintaining the integrity of the recruitment process.

Types of Civil Service Exams

The process and content of a civil service exam depends on the position.

Supplemental questions

A candidate answers these additional questions on their job application. They can be short-answer or essay questions or a combination. They gather more (i.e. supplemental) information about an applicant’s background and experience related to the position. Responses are scored and ranked based on preset criteria.

Supervisors work with their assigned HR Business Analyst to:

  • Develop questions
  • Develop the scoring matrix
  • Identify subject matter experts (SMEs) to read and score responses

The questions, responses and scores serve as a civil service exam. They are most often used when filling professional and other positions that require business writing skills.

Multiple-choice, short answer, and computer-based tests

Multiple-choice, short answer, or computer-based tests are often used when filling field or technical positions.

Comparative evaluation

For some positions, supervisors and the HR Business Analyst develop criteria for comparing applications. Then after minimum qualification screening, points are assigned to each application based on that criteria. The submitted applications, criteria, and scores serve as the civil service exam.

Random selection

When there is a large number of candidates, random selection may also determine who is invited to the exam.

Eligible List

Candidates who pass a required civil service exam are placed on an eligible list. Human Resources will refer the top ranked candidates from the eligible list to the hiring agency for interview. The number of candidates referred is set by Personnel Rules and any labor agreements that apply to the position. A candidate’s rank only determines who is referred for an interview and is not shared with the agency.

These lists fast track the hiring process for future recruitments. If an eligible list exists for a position when an agency submits a request to fill, they must interview candidates from the current list before a new recruitment will begin.

Eligible lists are usually kept for six months, or until every candidate has had an opportunity to interview for a position. Eligible lists may be kept longer with approval from the Human Resources Director.

Eligible list ranking

Candidates who pass an exam are placed on an eligible list in rank order. This rank is based on the candidate’s final weighted test score, plus military veteran or seniority points (if applicable). (Note: If a candidate does not pass an exam, points are not applied and they are not placed on an eligible list.) A candidate’s rank only determines who is referred for an interview and is not shared with the agency.

Military Veterans

Candidates must provide proof of veteran’s status by submitting their Form DD-214 before the civil service exam process closes. Human Resources reviews the documentation and determine how many points should be applied. Points are not added for candidates who are current permanent City employees, or for candidates who fail the exam.

Seniority Points for Current Employees

For some positions, seniority points must be added for candidates who pass the exam and are currently City of Madison employees. The process and number of points is described in the labor agreement or handbook that applies to the position.