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Frequently Asked Questions About Civil Service Exams

This page answers some questions that you may have about Civil Service employment with the City of Philadelphia.

CIVIL SERVICE EXAMS FAQ

HOW DO I APPLY FOR A CIVIL SERVICE JOB?

For detailed information, see the instructions on How To Apply For A Civil Service Exam.


HOW DO I ENTER CIVIL SERVICE?

First, you must pass a Civil Service examination.  Examinations are given for all jobs for which the City anticipates vacancies.  All referrals to vacancies are made in rank order from Civil Service lists which are prepared based on competitors' final scores.  All examinations are administered by the Office of Human Resources even though the vacancies are situated in the different City departments.


WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO TAKE A TEST?

Anyone who meets the published minimum requirements, which are stated on the Civil Service examination announcements published for each job, can take the test for that job.



WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN "Or any equivalent combination of... determined to be acceptable by the Office of Human Resources (formerly Personnel Dept.)" APPEARS ON THE ANNOUNCEMENT?

This statement is taken from the section of the Job Description known as the equivalency statement.  It authorizes the Office of Human Resources to accept substitutions for the required education and experience.  This authority may not be exercised if significantly more qualified candidates apply for an examination than are needed to fill all vacant positions.  In that case, the Office of Human Resources may not accept any substitutions for the required education and experience.

The equivalency statement defines the parts of the requirements that can be replaced by some combination of comparable education and/or experience, and the parts of the requirement that can not be replaced.  The three most common versions of the equivalency statement are as follows.

"Or any equivalent combination of experience determined to be acceptable by the Office of Human Resources"
means that applicants may be able to substitute additional education or experience for some or all of the required experience described on the announcement.  The education requirements as stated on the job announcement cannot be replaced.

"Or any equivalent combination of education determined to be acceptable by the Office of Human Resources"
means that applicants may be able to substitute additional experience or education for some or all of the required education described on the announcement.  The experience requirements as stated on the job announcement cannot be replaced.

"Or any equivalent combination of education and experience determined to be acceptable by the Office of Human Resources"
means that applicants may be able to substitute both additional education and experience for the requirements as stated on the job announcement.

Applicants should be aware that the Office of Human Resources determines which combinations of education and experience qualify for examinations, and which do not.

If a job announcement does not include this type of statement, applicants must possess all of the education and experience as listed on the announcement to be eligible to compete in the examination.

Applicants are encouraged to provide detailed descriptions of all education and experience when applying for a job with the City of Philadelphia.  The determination of eligibility to compete in examinations may be affected by the quality and thoroughness of the information provided in the application.


HOW DO I KNOW WHAT'S AVAILABLE?

Every two weeks a bulletin called JOB OPPORTUNITES is published announcing the examinations for which we are accepting applications.  These announcements are available at all local libraries in Philadelphia and at many community centers and organizations.  Copies are also available in the Municipal Services Building (MSB) at

  • the Employment Application Center in the Concourse (below street) level, Mondays-Fridays from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM,

  • Customer Service Center on the 16th floor, Mondays-Fridays 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM.

For Police Officer Recruit, Firefighter, Laborer and others jobs which attract widespread interest, applications are often made available at locations in your community.


HOW DO I KNOW IF I'M APPROVED TO TAKE THE EXAMINATION?

IF I AM APPROVED, HOW DO I KNOW WHEN AND WHERE I TAKE THE TEST?


Applications are reviewed and persons who meet or exceed the minimum requirements (qualifications) for the job are approved to take the test.  Although the application review process may take some time, applicants will be given sufficient notice of their approved or disapproved status, and the date, location, and time of the examination.  Whenever possible, we will inform all applicants by mail two weeks prior to the examination.


WHAT TYPES OF EXAMINATIONS ARE GIVEN?

Each announcement will indicate the type of examination to be given.  All examinations assess knowledges, skills and/or abilities needed to perform the job.  For most entry titles the examinations are either multiple choice written, job simulations or orals. Occasionally, the examinations are formal reviews of education and experience.  At times they are multi-part.  Read the announcements carefully to see what type applies to the job you want.

Test-takers must pass the indicated exam(s) in order to be placed on the eligible list for hire.


WHAT TYPES OF ELIGIBLE LISTS ARE THERE?

Open-Competitive
These examinations are open to the general public.

Promotional
These examinations are open only to current City of Philadelphia Civil Service employees who have successfully passed their 6-month probationary period and have a performance rating of satisfactory or better.
Department-Only Promotional exams additionally require that the employee works in a specified department.

Concurrent
These examinations are open to the general public-- however, two separate lists are established for the job: a Promotional list for current Civil Service employees who passed the exam, and an Open-Competitive list for non-Civil Service passers.  The Open-Competitive eligible list is not used to hire until the Promotional list is exhausted.


ONCE I GET ON THE CIVIL SERVICE LIST, HOW LONG AM I ELIGIBLE FOR A JOB?

Eligible lists last up to two years.  You may remain on the list as a potential job candidate for that long, starting from the day it is established, or the day your name is posted to it.


WHAT REQUIREMENTS APPLY AFTER THE TEST?

If you pass a Civil Service examination and are ranked high enough to be interviewed for a vacancy you must:

  • Once hired, applicants are required to move into Philadelphia six months after their appointment date, except where residency waivers apply.

  • Be able to prove your identity and your right to work in the United States.  Foreign nationals must show a valid "green" card.

  • Meet other requirements such as possession of current, valid licenses or certifications as noted on the Civil Service examination announcement.

Philadelphia is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual preference, religion, age or disability.


IS THERE VETERANS' PREFERENCE?

State Law requires that veterans who pass an open-competitive Civil Service test receive preference in hiring as well as additional points added to their examination score.


WHAT BENEFITS DOES THE CITY OFFER?

Persons entering Civil Service receive:

  • 10 days vacation per year (more as seniority increases)
  • 15 days sick leave per year
  • 11 holidays
  • 4 personal leave days
  • generous pension programs
  • liberal health benefits
  • paid life insurance

Specific benefit provisions vary depending upon union representation. More information is available from the Benefits Administration Unit.


Page updated: May-5-2008

END OF FAQ

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