3004 - Statement of Qualifications


Examination and Hiring

Audience List

  • Administrative Chiefs
  • Human Resources Chiefs
  • Personnel Officers
  • Hiring Managers
  • Human Resources Analysts


This policy:

• Defines a Statement of Qualifications

• Identifies the appropriate use of Statement of Qualifications

• Provides instruction for developing a Statement of Qualifications for an examination and hiring process


A Statement of Qualifications (SOQ) is a selection instrument that can be used to determine the fitness and qualifications of applicants. It may be used for an examination and/or hiring process.


A Statement of Qualifications (SOQ) is a selection instrument that can be used to determine the fitness and qualifications of applicants. It may be used for an examination and/or hiring process. An SOQ is a mechanism for obtaining evidence of an applicant’s qualifications (e.g., experience, education, etc.) in job-related areas. An SOQ requires applicants to provide a narrative summary of job-related competencies (e.g., knowledge, skills, and abilities) they possess to successfully pass an examination or to demonstrate their competencies as part of the hiring process. It also provides a sample of the applicant’s writing skills and indicates how well they can align their qualifications with the examination or job for which they are applying.

An SOQ addresses job-related question(s) or a job’s desirable qualification(s). It may be used as part of the application screening process and can serve as a writing sample and/or written interview for recruitment.

An SOQ is an appropriate selection instrument for an examination or a hiring process when departments determine that applicants’ past performance best predicts future performance in the job vacancy’s classification. For example, an SOQ would serve as a suitable selection instrument when it is determined that applicants with more experience will likely have a greater understanding of the related area and are more likely to have encountered a greater variety of situations i.e., the more time a candidate spends performing various tasks, the more knowledge and expertise they gain.


The following guidelines should be used when creating SOQs:

SOQs for Examinations

An SOQ may serve as a component of an examination or the entire examination. The SOQ requires applicants to respond to pre-determined questions that may be included on the examination announcement or provided in a separate document. The applicant is required to follow all instructions, as failure to do so can result in disqualification from the examination process. All applicants successful in the examination process are placed on an eligibility list used for hiring.

Prior to developing an SOQ for use in an examination process, the selection analyst should review the current job analysis report and class specification being tested. The job analysis report will identify critical and expected at entry competencies that can be tested. Only critical and expected at entry competencies should be tested. The selection analyst should verify that these competencies link directly to the competencies listed on the class specification. Competencies from the job analysis that cannot be linked to the class specification should not be tested. The identified competencies will be used to develop the SOQ.

During the SOQ development process, the selection analyst should work with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to create questions or desirable qualifications. Current/previous incumbents who have served in the classification, individuals who supervise staff appointed to the classification or individuals who possess expert knowledge in the classification may serve as SMEs. The SMEs, in consultation with the selection analyst developing the SOQ, should identify those competencies necessary for successful job performance at entry into the classification. Once the competencies are identified, the question development process can begin.

It is recommended that departments develop enough questions to ensure a broad range of competencies are tested. The questions should elicit specific narrative responses and focus on the applicant’s education, training, and experience. Questions should differentiate between “Not Qualified,” “Qualified,” and “Well Qualified.” After drafting questions, behavioral anchors and scoring criteria should be created that includes response descriptions of the types of answers that applicants might be expected to provide. Behavioral Anchors are benchmarks used to rate performance on a range of scaled points. They are an appraisal method that targets to combine the assets of narratives, critical incidents, and quantified ratings by anchoring a measured scale with specific behavioral examples of good, moderate, and poor performance.

For examination purposes, SOQs can be used for supervisory and managerial classifications as well as technical, professional, and skilled trade classifications.

All other rules regarding examination development and scoring should be adhered to when utilizing an SOQ as a testing mechanism.

Note: CEA exams do not require a job analysis because they are one-position specific examinations. However, when developing an SOQ for a CEA exam, the duty statement may serve as the basis for identifying competencies.

SOQs for the Hiring Process

An SOQ may be used as a screening tool in the hiring process. Applicants are required to respond to pre-determined questions included on the job vacancy announcement, follow all requirements provided in the instructions and submit this document as part of their application along with all other requested documents. Failure to provide an SOQ and follow instructions can result in the applicant being disqualified from the hiring process.

Prior to developing SOQ questions, the hiring manager should review the duty statement and other related documents to identify essential job functions and competencies. SOQ questions should elicit responses that demonstrate the applicant possesses the competencies to be successful in the position. Typically, an applicant’s performance in the SOQ will serve as a basis for movement to the next stage of the hiring process such as hiring interviews.

When creating an SOQ, the hiring manager should consider the following: • Job-related areas essential for successful job performance. • Creating job-related questions that align with job competencies.

• Developing rating criteria that clearly differentiates “Not Qualified,” “Qualified,” and “Well Qualified” applicants.

• Providing clear instructions for submitting the SOQ. This may include format requirements and a maximum number of pages allowed.

• Clearly stating the consequence for not submitting an SOQ (i.e., disqualification from the hiring process).

It is recommended to develop rating criteria prior to the release of the job vacancy announcement to ensure a consistent screening process is applied to all applicants. While an SOQ may be a great tool to include in the hiring process, it may not be appropriate for all job recruitments. This may include recruitments for hard to fill positions or those who receive a limited number of applicants.



Not Applicable.

Authorized By

Chris Dainard
Chief, California Department of Human Resources

Chief, Policy Division
State Personnel Board

Contact Person

Selection Division
Policy Program , Selection Division
Phone: 916-909-3757
Email: SDPolicy@calhr.ca.gov

Superseded Policies

Not Applicable.


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Table of Contents

1000 - Equal Employment Opportunity

1100 - Selection

1200 - Appointments

1300 - Exempt Employees

1400 - Benefits and Insurance

1500 - Work Schedules

1600 - Third Party Pre-Tax Parking

1700 - Compensation

1800 - Savings Plus

1900 - Bona Fide Associations

2000 - Collective Bargaining

2100 - Leave

2200 - Travel/Relocation

2300 - State Owned Housing

2400 - Employee Recognition

2600 - Layoffs

2700 - Retirement

2800 - Training

2900 - Workforce Planning

3000 - Examination and Hiring

3100 - Drug-Free Workplace

3200 - Medical Screening

3300 - Apprenticeships

3400 - Temporary Assignment

3500 - Classification Plan