Federal Manager's Daily Report

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Involving subject matter experts more in the federal hiring process has advantages including countering perceived or real favoritism in the process, an MSPB publication says.

The article says that multiple surveys of employees have cited favoritism as a main concern about the hiring process, a prohibited personnel practice. “A survey cannot tell us whether manipulation of hiring actions led to these perceptions or if the respondents formed erroneous conclusions, but neither is good for the federal workforce,” it says.


In developing a recruitment plan, it says, subject matter experts “can provide invaluable insights for the job announcement and recruitment sources” and “may also be able to advise the agency against anything that creates an appearance of favoritism, such as an unnecessary requirement that narrows the applicant pool too much or an area of consideration that unreasonably shuts out a suitable segment of the workforce.”

They also can help develop an assessment plan that “will have greater credibility that the qualifications are based on the job and not used merely because they coincide with the background of a friend of the selecting official or higher-level manager.” And by involving them in conducting assessments, “the agency ensures that a selecting official cannot choose a substantially less-qualified candidate because that person will never be referred to the official.”

In addition, the person hired “may have greater credibility upon arrival and have peers who are now invested in their success because those peers put their own reputations on the line by recommending the candidate after the assessment process. Another benefit is that the selectee may be more eager to accept an offer from a workplace that shows it values its employees’ expertise by involving the SMEs in the hiring process.”

However, it added: “It is important to ensure that SMEs are able to meet what could be a considerable time commitment. Also, agencies will have to ensure that SMEs are fully trained in and capable of carrying out whatever hiring duty they are performing. Finally, to be truly successful, agencies should ensure that they have a diverse set of SMEs with balanced perspectives regarding the job duties and needs.”

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