How to Successfully Compete for State Employement

Tips to assist you in your search for State employment

Positions for all State agencies are updated weekly

Most State employment opportunities are civil service positions, which require a competitive application or examination process in order to be eligible for consideration for interview. Some exams are only offered once or twice each year. Others are offered only as positions become available. Some entry level professional titles have ongoing recruitment.

As a job seeker it is to your benefit to check the Website weekly for new opportunities. It is advantageous to compete for more than one position in order to increase your opportunities for employment with the State. In fact, agencies sometimes are able to share their list of eligible applicants with other agencies with similar positions. It is beneficial to apply for as many opportunities as interest you, and for which you possess the qualifications.

In conjunction with all examination or application procedures, the applicant will be required to submit an Application for State Employment. The application can be found online or in paper format at local libraries, job centers, State office buildings and campus career centers.

Read the announcement and follow the application information carefully. A separate application must be completed for each position in which you are interested. It is important to use the exact job title and job code number that appears in the announcement.

There are several different formats for exams. Not all require that you test at a specific location. In fact, many can be completed at home and sent in for review.

Exam formats include:

  • Walk-in 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 require no advanced registration. 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 requires 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" 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 stages of exams, perhaps beginning with an Application Materials Review process and then moving to an Oral Examination prior to the interview process.

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 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 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 three to twelve months.

We hope that you find this information useful and that it will assist you in successfully competing for State of Wisconsin employment opportunities.

Last Revised: November 6, 2014