Federal hiring managers are asking applicants whether they’re qualified for open positions but aren’t getting hard data to back that up.
Federal agencies are relying almost entirely on information provided by applicants during the hiring process—rather than objective or expert-driven assessments—and now there’s a public dashboard to prove it.
Agencies are under mandate from a June 2020 executive order to use more assessment tools in the hiring process, rather than relying solely on resumes and questionnaires. As federal programs move to meet this task, a group of agencies worked to gather and present data on how current efforts are going.
Per a report and interactive dashboard released this week, agencies do not appear to be collecting much hard, objective data on job applicants.
According to statistics pulled from openings posted to USAJobs, 90% of postings relied solely on information provided by the job applicant—including a resume and answers on a self-assessment questionnaire.
The analysis shows no rise or drop in job offers based on the number and type of assessments.
“Of announcements that relied on at least one additional assessment to pre-certify applicants—such as a multiple-choice online exam to assess skills like reasoning, judgment, and interaction—53% led to a selection,” the report states, the same percentage of offers made by agencies only using self-assessment criteria.
However, the efficacy—defined as an agency making a job offer—of different assessment methods varies. The full breakdown compares the different mixes of methods, including solely using self-assessment or adding tools like USA Hire and SME-QA.
“By leveraging better assessment tools, agencies can ensure applicants are evaluated based on their skills and competencies to successfully perform in a position,” the report states. “This dashboard seeks to help federal HR professionals and hiring managers identify best practices in the use of assessments across agencies and job occupations using governmentwide data and trends, enabling the federal government to drive improvements to hiring over time.”
The dashboard’s creation follows a June 2020 executive order on “Modernizing and Reforming the Assessment and Hiring of Federal Job Candidates,” which, among other provisions, calls on the Office of Personnel Management to lead a team examining how and improving the ways in which assessments are used. That includes instructing that “agencies shall not rely solely on candidates’ self-evaluations of their stated abilities.”
While the Biden administration has already rolled back some Trump-era orders concerning the federal workforce, the June executive order remains intact.
The data shows the General Services Administration ahead of all other agencies in using multiple assessments, with 72% of job postings—290 of out 405—requiring additional assessments. OPM is second on the list at 57%—48 out of 84 postings.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Defense Department has the lowest rate, using alternatives to self-assessment in only 1% of postings—296 out of almost 52,000.
The report offers several other ways to slice and visualize the data, including comparisons by agency between the use of more assessment tools and job offer rates and a breakdown of the data by job category.
The project is a joint effort by OPM, GSA, the Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. Digital Service and additional “agency partners.”