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Interview and Selection Updates

The interview and selection process is being updated due to policy changes being made with the Office of the Governor and the federal court appointed hiring monitor.  Additional revisions and changes to policies of the Comprehensive Employment Plan will be disseminated as appropriate.  To submit a question for posting, please click "Submit Question" at the bottom of the page.  An answer will be sent to you and if appropriate, will be added to the site.

I am currently certified. Can I continue to participate in interviews and how will I know what and when policies have changed?

You may continue to participate in interviews; your certified status as an interviewer is not affected.  Updates are being sent to your agency's personnel officer to be shared as appropriate.

2. My certification is about to lapse. Can I still recertify using the recertification website?

Yes.  CMS will create a new recertification training that will be put in place when the changes to the process and policies have been approved.  The proposal is to give a window in which all certified interviewers will be required to complete the new training prior to participating in interviews.

3. including the creation and confidentiality of all interview materials. When the complete track of training is released, there will be several tracks for certification: Interviewer, Developer, and Administrator. The goal is to have minimal disruption

An on-line training is now available.  Those completeing the training will be certified to participate as a scoring member of an interview panel.  Agencies retain responsibility and full liability for all aspects of compliance

including the creation and confidentiality of all interview materials.  When the complete track of training is released, there will be several tracks for certification: Interviewer, Developer, and Administrator.  The goal is to have minimal disruption to the agency and their respective hiring needs as the content and format are being created.

I understand that there is a stronger emphasis for agencies to review the Position Description (CMS 104) before beginning the interview and selection process. Why is this suddenly so important?

Maintaining current and accurate position descriptions has always been the guidance and a best practice, however, in the agreement with the Federal court, CMS has committed to, "…ensure that positions accurately reflect the duties of the position…".  CMS will be asking agencies to not only make 104s current and accurate but will also be asking agencies to expand Box 19 (Requirements and Preferences) to further support this agreement.  Additionally, information found in Box 19 will be used to further screen applicants to specific job functions prior to the interview process.  The changes to Box 19 will need to be within the guidelines for the class specification and will continue to be reviewed and approved by CMS. To update, change, or modify 104s, please contact your agency's Personnel department.  They will work with you to determine the validity of the current 104 and determine the changes, if any, that need to be made.  If while making the changes, it is found that the actual duties and responsibilities of the position have changed dramatically, your Personnel department will work with CMS to ensure that the position is correctly classified and still meets the guidelines of the class specification.  Ensuring the accuracy of the 104 is very important as the Position Description is the basis for the screening tool, the interview hiring criteria, interview questions, and later for certification and annual evaluations.

5. Can a "Technical Expert" still participate in interviews?

At this point, the role of the technical expert has not changed - translate the interviewee's answers for the interview panel after the interview has concluded. During the interview, the Technical Expert may ask clarifying/follow-up questions to ensure that the interviewee's response can be evaluated accurately by the interview panel. After the interview is complete, the panel may ask the Technical Expert to further clarify the technical responses to allow a comparison back to the hiring criterion or scoring guide.  The Technical Expert does not participate in the overall evaluation or the scoring of the interview. Please note that when the Comprehensive Employment Plan is fully implemented, it is highly likely that only trained interviewers will be allowed to participate in the interview process.

6. May I ask a "follow-up" question during the interview or am I restricted to the questions provided to me?

On October 30, 2018, a memo from CMS titled, "Informed Interviews" was sent to agency personnel officers to clarify the many versions of the use of follow-up or clarification questions.  The guidelines specifically state that,

"…interviewers are encouraged to ask follow-up questions.  It is appropriate… to ask candidates to clarify their answers if answers are unclear or incomplete.  It is appropriate to ask candidates to elaborate on an answer or provide an example in support of something they said…"


The follow-up or clarification question should be connected directly with the candidate's response to the original question (e.g., "You stated…please identify your role in … You mentioned…") The follow-up/clarification question should occur immediately following the candidate's response to the original question.

  • Any member of the panel, including the Technical Expert, may ask a follow-up/clarification question, regardless of who administers the original question.  Interviewers are to document the follow-up question if it involves more than a repeat of an answer or clarification of an acronym.
  • A follow-up/clarification question does not need to be asked to all candidates as it is specific to the individual candidate's response.  The memo can be viewed and downloaded: Informed Interview Guidance memo

7. If a candidate does not understand the question, can I rephrase it to make it clearer?

No.  For fairness and consistency for all interviewees, the questions are to be read in the same order for all candidates without changes or clarification.  However, you may repeat the question if asked.  The paragraph below is to be read to each candidate at the beginning of the interview:

"Please listen carefully and answer each question accurately and completely to the best of your ability.  We will gladly repeat a question, but we cannot clarify a question."

8. I have heard that reviewing candidate information before the interview is now allowable. Is this true?

Review of applications and prior knowledge of candidates has been a debated topic.  Often, panel members conducted interviews with no prior knowledge of the background of the interviewee, therefore, they were not in a position to elicit information that was contrary to the interviewee's answers to the interview questions.  This has been remedied by policy established in the October 30, 2018 memo, "Informed Interviews".  The memo states,

"… prior to the interviews, members of the interview panel shall review the application materials for each candidate who accepted an invitation to the interview.  Interviewers should at a minimum familiarize themselves with a candidate's work history and credentials as set forth in the application materials...  …should also identify any questions raised by the application and be prepared to ask about them during the interview."

9. If a candidate brings his/her application and resume' to the interview, can they use the information found on their documents to answer interview questions?

A candidate may reference notes during the interview but must provide the notes to the interview panel before leaving the interview room.  If the candidate uses his/her application or resume' during the interview, the panel is to:

  • Remind the candidate at the time of the interview that any notes taken, or notes used will need to be submitted to the panel at the completion of the interview.
  • Collect any notes, both notes that the candidate has taken and applications or resumes that the candidate referenced during the interview.

If the candidate refrains from using application material after being informed of the guideline, the panel does not need to collect the candidate's application/resume.

10. There has been discussion of the use of a "scoring guide". What is it and how does it work?

The intent of the scoring guide is to foster objectivity in measuring a candidate's answers and is created prior to beginning interviews.  The panel will meet in advance of the job posting to discuss the best possible responses and the scores that will be applied.  Panelists will determine candidate's scores based on specific terms or examples provided during the interview that connect to the pre-established answers.  Scores are awarded based upon the concepts or terminology the panel identified prior to the interview that would indicate the candidate's responses as "Excellent (4)", "Very Good" (3), "Acceptable" (2) or "Unsatisfactory" (1).

11. When if the panel feels as if the candidate is not being honest?

The panel is to document the candidate's responses as given during the interview, without personal opinion (please remember, any documentation in the panel's notes becomes part of the interview packet).  Panel members have the authority to ask a follow-up question if the candidate's response indicates a difference from information found in the application packet.  If the agency conducts background/reference checks, the erroneous information may also be found at that time.

12. How and when are background checks conducted?

The hiring agency, not CMS, begins the process of background checks when necessary and only when the candidate completes an authorization for release of criminal history in advance.  In accordance with Administrative Order #1 (2013), the only disqualifying criminal issues pertain to:

1) federal or state law prohibits hiring an individual with certain criminal convictions for the position that an applicant is seeking; or 2) the applicant has been convicted of an infraction that is reasonably related to the position is sought, and denial of employment based on that criminal history is consistent with business necessity and the State's duty to serve and protect its citizens."

If the candidate refuses to consent to a background check, the agency, board, or commission may use this to disqualify the candidate from further consideration for the position.  Hiring agencies typically conduct background checks in advance of making an offer.  If the agency makes an offer prior to conducting a background check, the offer should be made as a "conditional" offer, pending the result of the investigation.  In the event that disqualifying information is discovered after an offer has been made, the agency has the right to discipline (up to and including discharge).  As certified on the candidate's application:

"I certify that all the information on this application is true and accurate and understand that misrepresentation of any material fact may be grounds for ineligibility or termination of employment."

If you have additional questions or need further clarification, please e-mail using "Submit Question" below.