What to Do After Passing the Civil Service Exam: A Step-by-Step Guide 

You’ve completed your civil service exam. Good job! But that doesn’t mean you have a job. By now, you most likely know that getting into a civil service position requires a longer process than many private sector jobs do. Passing the civil service exam is a huge part of that process, however, there are more steps to move through before entering a job on a civil service career path. 

Here are the steps for what to do after passing the civil service exam, in the form of an, easy to follow, step-by-step guide. 

  1. Obtain your results. 
  2. Assess your eligibility. 
  3. Consider job opportunities. 
  4. Interview.
  5. Proceed through post-interview options. 


Generally, when people take the civil service exam, they already have in mind what department they are looking to get into, or at least a vague idea of what type of job they are aiming toward. It’s not always necessary, though, to know that information before taking your test.  

What to Do After Passing the Civil Service Exam: A Step-by-Step Guide 

A note about taking the correct civil service exam is warranted here. You should understand that there are many various jobs and agencies that you can work for in the public sector. For that reason, there are many different versions of civil service exams. Make sure to look into what exam is required for your desired job, or if there is one needed at all. Some civil service positions do not have a requirement for passing one of these tests. 

Read on, now, about the step-by-step process for what to do after passing the civil service exam. 


1 – Self-Discovery: Obtain Your Results 

The first thing you want to do after passing your exam is take a look at your results. You need to be engaged in the process enough to know where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Throughout your civil service job hunting journey, you’re going to be asked about your exam scores, so stay ahead of the game and familiarize yourself with how you fared. Know what you did, so that when the time comes, you can easily share that information with anyone who wants to know. 

There are two methods for obtaining your scores. You will either wait to receive them in the mail, or you can get them off of a government website.  

If you obtain the results of your civil service exam and you feel something is off, there is time to have whatever your issue is assessed by the proper officials. For instance, you might find that a particular question, or questions, have multiple answers that could be correct. You can contest questions like that to petition for a review.  

Another good reason for getting your civil service exam results and really looking into them, is to make sure they are correct. Look over your scores to determine that they are what they should be. If you find something that is incorrectly scored, you can submit an appeal to have it amended. 

2 –Know the Competition: Assess Your Eligibility 

After a testing period, all of the participants’ passing scores will be ranked based on how well each one did. From that ranking, a list will be generated. The list goes by different names in various states, but some of the more common names you’ll see are the “eligibility list” or the “certification list.”  

It can take anywhere from about three months all the way up to a full year for this list of rankings to be generated and available to be posted or sent out. The reason for this is because there are other processes, such as the ones mentioned above, that need time for completion before the list can be finalized. All test takers are given the opportunity for a protest review period and appeals. 

When agencies look at applicants, they will be giving thought to them in the order that they are ranked within the eligibility list. Those with higher scores will be given earlier consideration than those ranked further down on the list with lower scores. When a position is available, the overseeing department will continue moving down the eligibility list until they are able to fill it with a qualified candidate who accepts an offer for the job. 

There is a group of people who are given special preference for some civil service jobs. Most federal level positions will give preferential consideration to United States veterans. That means that if a qualified veteran is in the running for a specific job, that person will be offered the position before others that may even have a higher score on the civil service exam. Some state governments also offer veterans’ preference. 


3 – Know Your Options: Consider Job Opportunities 

What to Do After Passing the Civil Service Exam: A Step-by-Step Guide 

After you’ve been ranked with others, the eligibility list you’re on will also be sent to appropriate agencies and departments seeking to hire more employees. In some situations, you’ll be sent a letter, sometimes referred to as a canvass letter, that indicates what jobs are available. The purpose of these letters is to communicate to you information about openings at the agency, but also to find out what your interest level is for those jobs. 

 Once you receive a letter, you have a few options as to how you can respond. You can indicate that you’re just not interested at all. You can respond that you are interested in the position. Or, you can answer with a somewhat conditional non-interest. Basically, you’re saying you’re not interested due to a specific factor. Below is a list of some of the declination-of-interest reasons you may offer in response, along with the effects that are associated with each: 

  • Temporary Inability – you’ll be considered to be unavailable for all openings within the specified canvass period (60 days) 
  • Location  considered to be uninterested in all positions within that location for the duration of the eligibility list 
  • Hours  only removes you from the consideration for that specific opening 
  • Inactive Status  this removes you from consideration for all openings until you contact the appropriate office to have your name added back to the list 
  • Salary – you will not be considered for any positions at that salary or lower 
  • Temporary Appointment  you’ll only be considered eligible for permanent openings 
  • Contingent Permanent Appointment – you’ll be removed from consideration for all contingent permanent appointments 
  • Appointment to a School District – you won’t be considered for any school district positions for as long as that eligibility list is still valid 
  • Residence  you won’t be considered for any openings in that jurisdiction 

Should something change in your life that causes you to want to remove your previous declination reason and have your name reinstated to the list for consideration regarding some or all types of positions, you need to contact the appropriate department. You can then start the process to have any restrictions removed and to reactivate your status. 

There is a database where you can do job searches, as well. It’s called USAJOBS, and it provides you with an easy way to see all of the federal job openings around the country. You’ll be able to see what the requirements are, what the job duties consist of, where the position is located, what the salary is, and what benefits are offered with it.  

For the most part, positions listed on USAJOBS are open to all citizens of the U.S. There are some, however, that are only available to those already working in a federal position, or those who were formerly federal employees. People who qualify for the jobs not open to the general public are known as status candidates. These types of jobs are indicated to be open “government-wide” on the website. 


4 – It’s Time to Shine: Interview 

What to Do After Passing the Civil Service Exam: A Step-by-Step Guide 

After you’ve been determined to be qualified for a job, and you’ve indicated that you’re interested in a position, you will be contacted to schedule an interview. The interview portion of the process is designed to be another test of sorts. You’ll be asked to demonstrate what you would do in certain scenarios. You will be requested to tell the interviewer how you would respond to situations that can arise throughout the normal course of a day in that particular position, as well as some abnormal occurrences.  

The interviews are meant to give all potential candidates a fair chance at representing themselves and showing off what they can bring to the table to serve as an asset to the department. The interview may take place in person, or in some cases, be held over the phone. In either case, make sure you’re well-rested, you present with confidence, and prepared to sell your skills and abilities. 


Wondering what kind of jobs a civil servant can have? Read more here: https://civilservicehq.com/what-are-the-most-common-civil-servant-jobs/  

5 – The Final Lap: Proceed Through Post-Interview Options 


What to Do After Passing the Civil Service Exam: A Step-by-Step Guide 

After many rounds of screening throughout the process, and after all interviews have been completed, the applicants found to be the best-of-the-best will be sent to the hiring manager. That’s who will make the final decision.  

If you are selected for a job, you will be contacted and asked if you accept the position. You still have the right to decline an appointment, however, keep in mind that, depending on the reason for your declination, your name may then be removed from specific consideration or the overall eligibility list for doing so.  

Once you accept a position, there may be further steps for you to completeMany jobs require that you have a security clearance with an extensive background check. In the meantime, you could be in holding until that process is finished, or you could be placed in the job but with limitations until your clearance comes through.  

If you are not chosen for a specific job you interviewed for, you will not be removed from the eligibility list. You can interview for other openings until you do get selected. Also, remember that once you have a civil service position, it will open up other opportunities to you because you’ll be considered a status candidate, meaning you can apply for the “government-wide” positions. 


There You Have It 

What to Do After Passing the Civil Service Exam: A Step-by-Step Guide 

So you see, taking the civil service exam is an extremely important piece in what is actually a much bigger puzzle. Once you pass that test, you’ll be heading through the gates of the track to complete the rest of the race. The exam is essentially the qualifier that allows you to enter the race.  

Your next steps are to get to know your results, but also where you fall in the bigger picture relative to your competitors. Then, you can look for jobs that interest you, along with responding to any canvass letters with your desire for consideration or your declination. Eventually, you’ll have an interview, or several, and you can either accept a job, or not and keep looking.  

When it’s all said and done, you’ll very likely have a solid job in a very stable career field that comes with a multitude of further opportunities, as well. 


Related Questions

What jobs can you get after taking the civil service exam? 

As a civil service employee, you’ll work for either the federal, state, or local government. Jobs in the public sector include police officers, air traffic controllers, legislators, postal workers, government office administration, and more. Most types of jobs you can find in the private sector can also be found in the public sector, too.  


What is on the civil service exam? 

There are different versions of civil service exams. There isn’t just one standardized test that applies to all different types of careers deemed to be civil service. Some of what you’ll find on the tests, though, are general questions that allow you to demonstrate your ability to reason, your judgment, your response to situations, and logic. You’ll be tested on some of your math skills, as well as verbal skills and knowledge, too.   

Some of the questions will be tailored to the agency for which you’re testing under. For instance, postal workers will have some questions regarding weights and measurements, due to the nature of the jobs within that part of the public sector. Some of the test will cover industry-specific information to gauge who is the best fit for the agency’s needs. 


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To learn how to best prepare and study for your civil servant exam click here!

Free civil service guide. Click here to learn more: https://civilservicehq.com/ 

Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.