How to Apply
How to Successfully Compete for State Employment
Following are some tips to assist you in your search for State employment. Additional information, including job announcements, is available at Wisc Jobs.
For classified positions, applicants are required to complete a merit based application process. The process is usually specific to each individual job, and will be outlined in the application instructions section of our job announcements. This process is considered a civil service exam.
How this differs from applying in the private sector: What this means for most job seekers, which is different from applying for jobs in the private sector, is that the we typically do not hire people from just a cover letter and resume.
Civil Service Exams
Civil service exams can be in several different formats. Not all require that you test at a specific location. In fact, many can be completed at home or online and submitted for review.
Exam formats include:
- Exam Center Testing (Saturday Exams in various locations Statewide). Walk-in exams typically consist of a combination of multiple choice and essay exams. These exam types are designed to measure applicants' existing knowledge and skills for the position(s) they are testing for. Walk-in tests are administered once each month and require advanced registration at www.wisc.jobs. Be sure to bring identification, two sharpened #2 pencils, and you may also bring a silent, hand-held, battery-operated calculator, unless the announcement states otherwise. A picture ID with your signature is preferred.
- Multiple Choice exams require applicants to select the best of several answer choices and may include true/false and matching questions.
- Essay Examinations require applicants to evaluate hypothetical situations and respond with solutions or recommendations.
- Objective Inventory Questionnaire is an exam type that can be completed at the applicant's home. The applicant identifies their level of experience, training, and/or academic preparation relating to specific job tasks, tools, technologies or equipment.
- Application Materials Review is an exam process which may require the applicant to submit a letter of application (a cover letter), a resume and a brief paper addressing several specific questions related to the position. The written paper is the exam.
- Achievement History Questionnaires are another type of exam that requires the applicant to describe their accomplishments, achievements and experiences in several job-related areas critical for successful performance.
- Oral Examinations involve a panel of job experts who ask a series of standard, open-ended questions of the applicant. Follow-up questions may also be asked to clarify the applicant's responses. Although this format "looks" and feels like an interview, it is in fact an examination and will not involve the opportunity for the applicant to ask questions other than to clarify the exam questions. The interview process occurs at another time after the oral examinations have been completed.
- In some cases applicants will be required to compete in a variety of exams, perhaps beginning with an Application Materials Review process and then moving to an Oral Examination prior to the interview process.
Don't be Overwhelmed
Often applicants are overwhelmed by the bureaucratic sounding job titles that the State uses. My suggestion is not to immediately screen yourself out of a job by simply reading the title or job duties section. The best way to gauge if you're qualified for a job is to look at what is required in the application process. If you feel that you can successfully address all the areas in the application instructions, then you're probably qualified for the job. Many times agencies will train new hires on specific program knowledge provided that they can bring the desired core skills to the job.
As an applicant, it is important to remember that only you know about your training, experience, skills and knowledge as it relates to the position you apply for. When responding to questions in any exam format, it is important to be truthful, yet thorough in your responses. It is also important to be concise in your responses since there is typically a limit to the length allowed for your responses. Fully articulate your training and experience as it relates to the position. This is your opportunity to "sell" yourself as the best candidate for the position.
After the Exam
After the exam is evaluated by a panel of job experts, you will be sent a Notice of Examination Results. For each exam a list is created of applicants who pass the exam and are eligible to be interviewed. The list is then used to provide hiring agencies and supervisors with the names of applicants they can interview. Generally applicants who score the highest may be interviewed or receive further consideration. As positions are filled, we move further down the list of eligible applicants. We normally use employment lists for 3 to 12 months.
If you have questions at any point during the exam process, please contact the Human Resources representative designated in the job announcement of the position in which you are interested.