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NOAA Workforce Management Office

Serving NOAA's Most Valuable Asset - People


NOAA Hiring Process
STEP 6 - Qualification Determination and Referral List Qualification Determination

All applicants are assigned a preliminary rating score based on their responses to the experience, training, and awards questions included in the vacancy announcement.

The HRA uses the OPM Operating Manual: Qualification Standards for General Schedule Positions and the Handbook X-118C Job Qualification System for Trades and Labor Occupations Systems as guides to determine the basic qualifications of each applicant.

Qualification standards outline the necessary basic eligibility requirements for occupations and for each grade in the occupation. They specify the minimum quality level and amount of experience required and often allow education as a substitute for experience. Qualification requirements for basic eligibility may include, but are not limited to any or a combination of the following:

The standards are used by HRAs to evaluate internal and external candidates' qualifications for positions. The minimum qualification standards are used to determine those persons who are eligible for consideration because they meet the basic requirements for the occupation.

If a candidate is found to be eligible and meets the basic qualifications of the position, the WFMO may review the candidate's answers to the experience, awards, education, and training and self-development questions to ensure that responses are supported by information provided in the resume. Applicants who score 85 or higher are considered as the best qualified candidates and WFMO generally certifies MAP candidates with scores of 85 or higher to the hiring official for selection.

For delegated examining (DE) candidates, the HRA adds veterans preference points as applicable. Generally, the three highest scoring DE candidates with the inclusion of veterans preference points (also known as the Rule of Three) are referred to the hiring official.

Referral List There are three types of NOAA referral lists:

STEP 7 - Selection

Reviewing Resumes

The basic flow and readability of an applicant's resume represents their ability to communicate in writing and organize their thoughts. How duties and experience are described may give some indication of the applicant's reasoning process which is a fair and necessary attribute to evaluate in the selection of a candidate.

  1. The first and most important factor for the hiring official to consider is the applicants possession of critical KSAs and specific experience related to the advertised position. Notes should be made of other unique KSAs that may enhance job performance and may set the applicant apart from the others.
  2. Next, the resumes should be reviewed for incentive awards and current performance ratings which should be factors when assessing candidates.
  3. Finally, education, training, professional licenses and certificate information should be reviewed. Educational requirements should be treated as a skill and noted to determine if the applicants educational background further supports or enhances the position requirements.

Interviewing Applicants

Who Conducts the Interview? The hiring official usually conducts the interview. However, the hiring official may designate another person or a panel with knowledge of the position to be filled to conduct the interview. It is strongly recommended to incorporate diverse panel members when using interview panels.

Importance of the Interview Interviews are strongly encouraged because this is an opportunity to gather additional information from the applicant. The resume is only a brief description of the individuals background. An interview may provide more information that can be used during the selection process. It can be especially useful in evaluating such skills as oral communication and interpersonal skills that are not otherwise easily measured in writing. The interview also provides an opportunity for a face-to-face information exchange, affording the applicant an opportunity to learn about the organization.

Interviewing Techniques Interview questions should always elicit job-related information relative to the KSAs of the position for which the candidate is applying. Questions should be prepared in advance to ensure that all candidates are treated in the same manner. Generally, the same questions should be asked of each candidate. However, follow-up questions may be used to obtain additional or clarifying information in order to access an individuals specific qualifications for the position.

All applicants should be allotted the same amount of time for the interview, with time allowed for the applicant to ask questions of the interviewer(s).

In all cases, it is a good idea to record notes to eliminate the need to recall key points from memory. It is also helpful to note the date, time, place, and length of the interview. A copy of interview questions and the name of individual(s) who conducted the interview should be on file. This information is very critical in the event that an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint is filed and such information is requested.

It is permissible to ask all candidates to bring writing samples, such as reports, publications or technical articles to the interview.

See Supplemental Guidance for additional interview guidance .

Checking References

After reviewing the resume and conducting an interview, the interviewer should have a clear indication of the top applicants for further selection consideration. The next step is to check references which preferably should be verified, using prior supervisors over personal references since these individuals have knowledge of the candidates work performance. The current supervisors should only be contacted if the candidate has given permission which should be indicated on the resume. It is also advisable to obtain more than one reference for each candidate.

Performance and other pertinent aspects of the candidates employment should be verified. The questions should focus on the candidates overall qualifications for the position and how the reference assessed the candidates fitness for the job. Be sure to ask follow-up questions or ask for additional information about something that is not clear.

It is advisable to verify the candidates current employment including position(s) held and dates employed. The hiring official may also ask the reference about the following:

It is a good idea to keep the documentation of these questions and notes for future reference.

Making a Selection

There can be two approaches to making a selection. Some positions require that the selectee be fully qualified in all functional skills and take over a function with little assistance or training. Some positions may require experience in problem solving, management or other less functional skills, with follow-up training in functiional skills once on board. It is a good idea to ponder this concept and determine what is preferred before a selection is made. The HRA should be notified orally or in writing immediately after a selection is made.

STEP 8 - Job Offer

After the HRA receives the selection notification, a discussion of the effective date and salary for the selectee will be conducted. The HRA will notify the selectee of their selection, grade, and salary and make a tentative job offer. Note: Official job offers can only be made by the WFMO. If the offer is accepted, the HRA will negotiate the tentative Enter on Duty (EOD) date.

Employees are required to provide identification verification as well as completed background investigation forms based on the sensitivity for the position for which the applicant was selected. This procedure is known as Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12). The HRA will send a tentative selection letter to the selectee with the pertinent information and the HSPD-12 requirements outlined. Once the Personal Identity Verification (PIV) information is submitted to and cleared by the Office of Security, a final effective date will be set by the HRA and an official selection letter will be sent to all parties. More information on HSPD-12 requirements can be found at http://www.osec.doc.gov/osy/.

STEP 9 - Enter on Duty (EOD)

The new employee will be processed in by the WFMO or a designated employee in the field office. Some field offices maintain the forms and orientation package for the new employees, but the WFMO will forward the appropriate paperwork to the field office if necessary. New employees must complete the appropriate paperwork and forward it to the servicing HRA in the WFMO for processing.

Return to NOAA Hiring Process home page

Go to Steps One to Five

Page last edited: November 16, 2011

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