The MSPB newsletter adds that managers and HR need to collaborate through the entire hiring process and that it would help if both operations kept in mind three underlying pillars of the hiring process: to support the merit system principles, such as selecting on the basis of merit after fair and open competition; to avoid the commission of prohibited personnel practices; and to give selecting officials flexibilities and options.

“The competitive examining process provides numerous opportunities for customization to fill a vacancy,” it said. “These decisions must be made before issuing the vacancy announcement to avoid perceptions of gaming the system’ to provide an advantage to certain candidates. While HR has the responsibility for educating managers regarding their options and the implications of each choice, managers must understand that hiring a well-qualified employee requires an investment of their time and energy.”

For example, a first step is to identify the knowledge, skills, abilities, and competencies that are needed to perform the work, during which involvement from HR helps determine the minimum qualifications and any selective placement factors as well as the number and criteria for the rating levels when category rating is used.

Collaboration also is needed while deciding how candidates will be assessed, including whether proficiency in certain competencies is required to start the job or can be developed while on the job. “The rigor, costs, time, and sequencing of the potential assessment methods also should be considered,” including ways to eliminate less-qualified candidates without labor-intensive procedures such as a structured interview, which then can be applied only to the top candidates.

HR also should advise managers regarding the different recruiting and hiring flexibilities that may be used as well as issues such as how long to leave a vacancy announcement open, based on past experience with attracting a highly qualified pool of candidates for such positions.

“We encourage managers to take advantage of the expertise of their HR and program support staff, to guide them through this journey to select the best prospective employees within the federal merit systems,” MSPB said.