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Overview of The State of California Hiring Process

How the State's Hiring Process Works

The State hiring process can be daunting, especially if you’re trying to enter the California State Civil Service for the first time. The following is a brief overview of what an applicant can expect in the State's hiring process. The CA Job Blog also has a much more detailed and in-depth guide to getting a job with the State of California and someone is always available to contact with any questions.

STEP #1: Set Up Your CalCareer Account

To get started, follow these 3 simple steps to create and set up your profile:

  1. Visit
  2. Click on Create Account and sign up.
  3. Once you have signed up, sign in and set up your profile by completing the My Application section. We've got a step-by-step guide for creating an account. By completing this section, you are setting up your State Application. This is the application you’ll use to apply for all State jobs. Take your time and make sure it is organized. Make sure your references and their contact information are up to date. They will be verified.

STEP #2: Search for and Take Exams

If you are new to employment with the State of California, you must gain eligibility before you can apply for vacancies. The State of California hiring process is merit-based, so you will need to take (and pass) a separate exam for each classification you’d like to apply for. Many exams are available to take online in your CalCareer account. Follow the steps below, and remember a score of 70% is the minimum for most exams:

  1. SEARCH FOR AN EXAM: The exam is a preliminary screening tool that pre-qualifies you to be able to apply for job openings. If you are new to State employment, you can only apply for any open exams. There are other types of exams for people already working for the State. But you shouldn’t worry about those now.
  2. APPLY FOR AN EXAM: Follow the instructions in the exam bulletin. There will be a clearly marked section on How to Apply. If you meet all the screening criteria and minimum qualifications, you can take or apply for an exam.
  3. TAKE THE EXAM: Review the Exam Information section to find what type of test will be used, and how the test will be scored. Tests may be written, oral interviews, supplemental applications or Training and Experience Evaluations. Some are used for recruiting across the state, and some may be for a specific department or agency.
  4. EXAM RESULTS: You will receive your exam score by mail for in-person exams. For online exams you should receive your results instantly. For evaluations you have to mail in, you should expect the results to be uploaded to your account in a month or so. You may or may not receive these results by mail.
  5. CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT: A set of preferences indicating which location, tenure/timebase and department(s) an applicant is interested in being considered for employment. Read more about Conditions of Employment on the California Job Blog.
  6. WHAT YOUR RESULTS MEAN: Your score determines your ranking on the eligibility list. For most classifications you’ll need to be in the top 3 ranks to be hired. However, you could become reachable as hires are made and candidates are removed from the list. As those in rank 3 are hired, decline job offers, rank 4 candidates will move up into the “reachable” rank.

STEP #3: Apply for Jobs

Once eligibility has been established, you can start searching and applying for job openings in that classification. Remember, each classification requires a separate exam. Below you’ll find some info on how to search and apply for job openings.

From the front page you can search for the specific classification. Make sure your spelling is exact. The search engine here won’t tolerate any errors. Better yet, try doing an Advanced Job Search and search for the exact classification for which you took the exam.

Check out our post about How To Register For CalCareer Account Notifications. Setting up job notifications is a great way to save some time while avoiding missing out on a great job posting.

Be sure to read the job bulletin carefully. There are usually extra documents you need to include in your application packet. Among these are exam results, typing certificates, resumes and statements of qualifications. Make sure you include everything that is required your application package will probably be rejected.

If you're more concerned about finding a job with the State near to where you live, search geographically by county. Try searching for what jobs are available closest to you, and then find the corresponding exam. We also have a post about how to complete the State Job Application (STD 678).

STEP #4: Prepare for the Hiring Interview

If you meet the minimum qualifications, have taken an exam and submit your application according to the instructions in the job posting, you’ll likely be scheduled for an interview. The hiring interview is specific to a particular job, in a department for the classification. Be prepared to submit a lot of applications before you get an interview.

To prepare for your interview, review the duties and responsibilities listed on the Job Opportunity Bulletin. Generally, you’ll find a duty statement attached to the job posting. If not, you can contact the hiring analyst and request one. You can find their information in the advertisement.

Before you show up for your interview, be sure to read California Job Blog post on How To Ace a State Interview. It's loaded with good information to get you a leg up on the competition.

If you are not selected, continue applying for additional job openings. Apply for the same job or in the same department again. It’s often just a case of “the right person at the right time.” You may not have gotten the job this time, but you very well might be the right person a second time around. Plus, you’ll have had the advantage of interviewing for the same job again. You’d be surprised how often the person that gets the job is the one that is the most persistent.

STEP #5: Serve a Probationary Period

Once you have been hired into State service, you will serve a probationary period of 6 or 12 months. It’ll depend on your classification. When you have successfully completed probation, you attain permanent status as a State employee. However, unsuccessful performance may lead to rejection during probation and failure to attain permanent status. It may seem odd to see talk of a probationary period as part of the hiring process, but that is how Human Resources sees it, and we often talk of the probation as the final step in the hiring process. Definitely take your probation and supervisor’s feedback seriously.

Thanks for reading!

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  1. I tried to get a position with the Department of Finance last year. I was asked to come back and take a math and writing assessment. As a finance major and working in that field I like to think that I have above average math and writing skills but apparently I don't as I failed the assessment. I recently applied again and I'm hoping to get another crack at it. Does anyone one work there? Can anyone suggest some materials to prepare for the assessments?

    1. There should be a practice test, call HR and see what they tell you.

  2. I interviewed for equipment operator too back in September of last year I did not get a notice that I didn't get a job the job but I haven't gotten any notice of any sort why does Sacramento or headquarters take so long to do their part when everything has been done why are they not held accountable


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