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Rule 5 - Examinations

Sections 5.1 - Scheduling of Examinations

  1. The Human Resources Director shall schedule competitive examinations as the needs of the service require. Examinations may be scheduled in anticipation of future vacancies.
  2. An examination may be scheduled and conducted as a promotional examination or as an open examination. Only a promotional examination need be conducted for any class the qualifications of which are met by a sufficient number of County employees who occupy permanently allocated positions in order to provide reasonable competition among candidates and reasonable choice of candidates for appointment.
  3. The Human Resources Director may decline to permit a candidate who has competed in an examination to compete within three months thereafter in another examination for the same class.

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Section 5.2 - Types of Examinations

Each examination may consist of any of the following parts which will test for job knowledge, ability, skill, and other qualifications of candidates, in any combination.

  1. Written examination, to evaluate the knowledge, abilities, and skills of candidates, insofar as such factors are related to the particular class. They may be different tests each time an examination is given for the class.
  2. Oral examinations to evaluate the knowledge, abilities, skills, and other qualifications of candidates. Individual ratings of candidates by this means shall be confidential and shall not be available for review by candidates, except as provided below.
  3. Application Appraisal examinations, to evaluate the extent, relevance, level, and quality of experience and education of candidate; through reference to applications for employment, any license or other evidence of professional standing. (revised 7/1/10)
  4. Background examinations, to investigate the employment, education, and/or personal fitness of candidates. This may include reports from former employers, educational institutions, law enforcement agencies, or other suitable sources. Notwithstanding any other provision of these rules, records of such examinations shall be confidential and shall not be available for review by candidates.
  5. Performance examinations, to determine the skills, knowledge, abilities and other qualifications of candidates to perform the duties of the class, and/or to measure the candidates speed and accuracy as they pertain to job requirements.
  6. Physical Agility examinations, to determine and evaluate the physical agility, strength, coordination and fitness of candidates as they pertain to the class.
  7. Medical examinations, to determine freedom from physical incapacity to perform the duties of the class. Such examination shall be performed under the direction of the Medical Director of designated medical center. Failure to pass such examination may not be disqualifying if accommodation can be provided. Except as otherwise required by law, records of such examinations shall be confidential and shall not be available for review by candidates, employees, appointing authorities, or members of oral interview boards. These records shall be kept at designated medical center and will be treated as medical records. To the extent permitted by law, information by such examination may be disclosed to appointing authority.

Alcohol and/or drug testing of candidates for initial employment may also be conducted. Candidates with positive tests shall be disqualified from County employment for six months. (Revised 7/1/10)

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Section 5.3 - Conduct of Examinations

  1. Each examination shall be so conducted as to afford each qualified candidate with an equal opportunity to compete.
  2. The Human Resources Director shall designate the time, place and type of each examination; the conditions under which it shall be conducted; and the proctor to conduct the examination. The Director shall inform each candidate in writing of the time and place of each examination for which the candidate's presence is required. Written notification may be waived by the Human Resources Director when found appropriate and only if other suitable notification may be arranged.
  3. Each candidate who competes in a written examination shall use or be assigned an identification number which shall be used in lieu of his/her name or other identifying data on each answer sheet.
  4. For each oral examination, the Human Resources Director shall appoint one or more oral interview boards, as needed. At least one member of each board shall be technically familiar with the work of the class. Such an individual shall be considered a subject matter expert.
  5. For each application appraisal examination which consists of an application appraisal as part of the overall selection process, the Human Resources Director may appoint an examination board, as needed. At least one member of each board shall be technically familiar with the class. Such an individual shall be considered a subject matter expert.
  6. Each candidate in an examination which includes physical exertion or other activity which may result in the injury or damage to the candidate or to the candidate's property may be required to sign a document disclosing risks present by such a test. Failure to sign such a document when requested to do so shall result in disqualification of the candidate in this specific examination.
  7. Candidates who fail to follow instructions of examination process or in any other way interfere with the orderly conduct of an examination, may be disqualified by the Human Resources Director.

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Section 5.4 - Scoring of Examinations

  1. The Human Resources Director shall determine a procedure for scoring each examination which will give due weight to each portion of the examination.
  2. The Human Resources Director shall establish for each written, oral or performance examination a minimum passing grade, which shall be set forth in the examination bulletin. Failure by any candidate to attain the minimum passing grade in any portion of an examination shall eliminate the candidate from competition in any further portion of the examination. Any candidate so eliminated shall be notified promptly in writing.
  3. A cut-off point shall be established for each written examination and shall be recorded before the name of any candidate is revealed.
  4. Each application appraisal, performance, physical agility and medical examination shall be recorded in a manner which will determine:
    1. the successful candidates, with their rankings, who may compete further;
    2. the unsuccessful candidates, who shall be eliminated from further competition.
  5.  The Human Resources Director may accept the records of performance tests given by any employment agency, firm or academic institution whose test content and administration standards is equivalent to or exceeds those of the County of Sonoma.  (revised 7/1/10)
  6. The Human Resources Director shall notify each candidate in writing of his/her final examination score and his/her standing on the resultant employment list.

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Section 5.5 - Review of Examinations

  1. Review of Test Keys
    A copy of the test key for each written examination, other than form tests, shall be made available in the County Human Resources Department during the test review period, for review during business hours by candidates competing in the test. The test review period shall consist of the first seven regular County business days immediately following the day the written test is given.
  2. Review of Answer Sheets
    Each candidate may review his/her own answer sheet, together with the test key, in the County Human Resources Department during business hours at any time within seven (7) regular County business days after the postmark date to him/her of a notice of examination results. Each candidate who competes in a form test may review his/her answer sheet but not the test key.
  3. Upon request to the Human Resources Director, a summary of a candidate's performance on any examination except a background or medical examination may be made available to that candidate.

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Section 5.6 - Appeal of Examinations

  1. Any applicant may appeal an examination in writing to the Human Resources Director on any basis permitted by this section. Any such appeal must identify the specific basis on which it is submitted, a description of the item or incident(s) to which it refers, and why the applicant believes it should be granted. The burden of proof in substantiation of an appeal shall be upon the applicant. Appeals submitted on a basis other than permitted by this section or incomplete appeals, will not be accepted. Appeals may be accepted only if delivered or postmarked within the time period(s) specified within this section.
    1. Any applicant may appeal specific test items in a written or performance examination prior to notification of examination results by requesting the correction or elimination of any such item(s) which the applicant has completed, on any of the following bases:
      1. typographical error;
      2. incorrect keying;
      3. factual error.

      Appeals of specific test items will be accepted only if delivered or postmarked within seven (7) regular County business days immediately following the days the examination is given.

    2. Any applicant may appeal the results of an examination after written notification of such results on any of the following bases:
      1. erroneous scoring of examination is defined as a computational error in calculating a candidate's final score in an examination process, or the erroneous assignment of a candidate's standing on an employment list;
      2. improper conduct of examination is defined as a departure from the announced selection process for the position or any deviation from the Rules of Examination conduct prescribed in Civil Service Rule 5.3 which has adversely affected the final score and standing of any candidate or group of candidates;
      3. fraud in rating resulting from an oral, application appraisal, performance, physical agility, or medical examination.

        Appeals of examination results will be accepted only if delivered or postmarked within seven (7) regular County business days immediately following the issuance of written notification of examination results by the County Human Resources Department. Issuance of written notification shall be defined as the postmark date the notice is mailed, or the date the examination results are announced to candidates.

  2. The Human Resources Director shall investigate each appeal, and may grant each appeal which he/she finds to be justified. If the Director does not grant an appeal, the individual may, within seven (7) regular County business days after postmark of written notice of the Director's decision, appeal such decision to the Civil Service Commission by filing such appeal in writing citing a specific basis for the appeal to the office of the Civil Service Commission (County Human Resources Department). When appropriate, the Commission may also receive or request a recommendation from the author of the examination. The Commission shall grant or deny the appeal not later than thirty (30) regular County business days after it is filed.
  3. When an appeal is granted due to typographical error, incorrect keying, factual error, or erroneous scoring, all applicable examination records shall show each applicant's corrected score and standing.
  4. When an appeal is granted due to improper conduct of an examination or due to fraud in rating, applicable examination records shall be changed to reflect the decision of the Commission. In such instances, the Commission may elect to have the appellant(s) name placed on the resulting employment list or to cancel the list, or to order a particular part of the examination to be re-administered.
  5. Appeals of examination based on alleged unlawful discrimination must be filed in accordance with the Discrimination Complaint Procedure specified in the County's Affirmative Action Plan.

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Section 5.7 - Copying of Examination Records

No candidate may copy any portion of any examination records or materials made available for his/her review, without authorization from the Human Resources Director. Unauthorized copying may result in removal from employment lists, dismissal from Sonoma County employment, and/or exclusion from future employment.

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Section 5.8 - Retention of Examination Records

  1. Each completed application shall be retained for not less than three years after the date of completion of examination for which it is submitted, and shall be made available for inspection by appointing authorities to whom the candidates are certified. Applications of those candidates appointed shall be filed with the reports of their appointment in the County Human Resources Department.
  2. Answer sheets, test keys, and other examination records shall be retained for not less than three years after the date of completion of the examination to which they pertain, and may be retained thereafter for a period of time to be determined by the Human Resources Director.
  3. For the purposes of this section, the date of approval of an employment list resulting from an examination shall be considered as the date of completion of an examination, and the last step in the County Human Resources Department examination process.
  4. All examination records and related papers are the property of the Civil Service Commission except as provided by these rules. They shall be confidential records which may be inspected or copied only under such conditions as may be specified by the Civil Service Commission, the Human Resources Director, or competent judicial authority.

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Contact Information

Marissa Georges
Executive Secretary
Civil Service Commission
Human Resources Department
County of Sonoma
Business Hours
Monday – Friday
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Address
Sonoma County Administration Building
575 Administration Drive
Suite 116B
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.464975, -122.725632

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