Examinations and Definitions of Terms

The Human Services Agency administers a variety of examinations, designed specifically for each job classification, which tests the knowledge, ability and skill levels required for successful job performance. Your examination may include one or more of the following components:

Written Examination

This type of exam is utilized to test candidates' technical and/or general knowledge. Written examinations typically include items such as multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and short answer questions.

Oral Examination

A panel of two or more subject-matter experts asks each candidate a series of job-related questions. Candidates are rated based on the specific knowledge, ability and skill levels demonstrated when answering the questions. This test is NOT a job interview. Candidates may be asked to prepare a written exercise as part of the oral examination for review and rating by the oral panel members.

Assessment Center

This examination method places a candidate in stimulated work situations. For example, a candidate may be asked to make an oral presentation, participate in a group discussion, demonstrate writing skills and/or participate in a prioritizing exercise. Assessment Centers are generally used for administrative and management positions.

Reasonable Accommodation

Reasonable accommodation will be made to facilitate the participation of disabled candidates in the examination process. Please notify the analyst in charge of the examination as soon as possible of any special needs you may have. Follow the instructions on the job announcement and/or letter notifying you of the date of the examination.

Getting the Job

The names of applicants who pass the examination(s) are placed on a list in rank order according to their scores. This list is used to fill vacancies in the job classification for the specific period of time indicated on the list. You will receive further information about this phase of the process when you are notified of the examination results, HSA may utilize additional selection procedures to make final hiring decisions.

Definitions of Terms Used on the Announcement

Entrance Exams

Refers to exams where all applicants file under the same conditions.

Combined Promotive/Entrance

Refers to exams for classes where permanent City employees are given additional points, up to 30 points for competent work and 30 for time employed. Ouside applicants may apply as well.

File Immediately

The filing period may be closed at any time, i.e. with one day's notice

Continuous Testing

The filing period is open on a continuous basis, and testing is done periodically for those people who have filed a qualified application

Application Guidelines

The examination announcement may require that a supplemental application be filed, presentation of an official college transcript or a copy of a license. Applicants will not receive credit for experience not indicated on the application. Papers filed with an application are not returned.

Minimum Qualifications

Unless otherwise noted, applicants must possess the minimum qualifications required by law and/or the announcement by the final filing date. Part-time and volunteer experience may be used to meet experience requirements. One year of experience equals 2000 hours.

Selection Process 

Each type of selection device or exam used to determine the eligibility of candidates is described on the announcement.

Applicants with Disabilities

Reasonable accommodation will be made so that qualified disabled applicants may participate in the examination process. Please advise the staff member in writing, at the address listed on the examination announcement, of special needs at the time of application.

Seniority Credit in Promotional Examinations 

Any City employee who meets the minimum qualifications, probationary, certified temporary from a list, or holdover status with the City and County of San Francisco, and has had six (6) months of verifiable satisfactory experience in any class in any status (including provisional appointments) as of the final filing date for applications, qualifies promotionally. Such employees may be entitles up to sixty (60) additional points for service and satisfactory performance rating after passing the examination(s). Deductions from service points will be made for applicable disciplinary actions.

Veterans Preference Credit

Applicants who qualify as veterans or disabled veterans may be eligible for veterans preference credit.

Eligible Lists

The purpose of an examination is to provide a list of qualified person(s) eligible for employment. Candidates are ranked on an eligible list according to their overall scores in the examination. Vacancies are filled from among the available candidates according to the certification rule used for the list. This rule is stated on the examination announcement and on the eligible list. The duration of the list or of the eligibles who pass the examination will be determined prior to posting the eligible list.

Identification/Right to Work

All persons employed by the City and County of San Francisco are required to comply with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 by presenting documents to verify identity and authorization to work in the United States.

Disaster Service Workers

In the event of a declaration of emergency, any employee of the City and County of San Francisco may be assigned to perform activities which promote the protection of public health and safety or the preservation of lives and property.