The MSPB has called attention to its findings that in hiring agencies “often use assessments that are not the best predictors of performance,” adding that the impact of 2020 executive order on job candidate assessments—if it is allowed to stand—will “depend greatly on how much agency practices change.”
In its annual report, the MSPB noted a Trump administration order told agencies to downplay the roles of educational credentials and self-evaluations when assessing candidates. That order remains in effect even though President Biden already has revoked numerous other Trump orders regarding federal workplace policies.
The MSPB said that although OPM issues general policies on hiring practices, it is up to individual agencies to rate and rank applicants and select from among those deemed qualified.
“For example, even in the absence of a requirement for a degree or specific education to qualify for a position, a hiring manager might prefer to consider or hire individuals with a degree or particular credentials. MSPB does not know the extent to which agencies or managers hold or act on such preferences,” it said.
The MSPB noted that it previously has called for improvements to candidate assessments, including in a research paper citing concerns by agencies that “applicants are rating themselves as experts in every category because they have learned that is the only way they will make it to the next phase of the hiring process.”
Data recently posted by GSA based similarly showed a heavy reliance on self-assessments and little use of tools such as OPM’s “USA Hire “program. The MSPB said that while that program “has validated assessment tools for a multitude of federal occupations at most grade levels” it is “only available on a reimbursable basis, and are relatively expensive for some agencies.”
“Given the EO’s push to improve hiring, this seems like an ideal time for OPM to explore how it can help make assessments more accessible to agencies that do not have the resources to develop them on their own,” the MSPB said.