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Recruitment Policy Studio

Federal Section
Hiring Toolkit

Competitive Service Hiring


Selections


What is Category Rating?

Category rating is a ranking and selection procedure authorized under the Chief Human Capital Officers Act of 2002 (Title XIII of the Homeland Security Act of 2002) and codified at 5 U.S.C. § 3319. Category rating is part of the competitive examining process. Under category rating, applicants who meet basic minimum qualification requirements established for the position and whose job-related competencies/KSAs or knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) have been assessed are ranked by being placed in one of two or more predefined quality categories instead of being ranked in numeric score order. Preference eligibles are listed ahead of non-preference eligibles within each quality category. Veterans’ preference is absolute within each quality category.

Allows you to draw from a wide pool of candidates.

The purpose of category rating is to increase the number of qualified candidates an agency has to choose from for selection while preserving veterans’ preference rights. Category rating gives agencies the flexibility to select from among candidates in the highest quality category without regard to the “rule of three.”

Agency Policy.

Before using category rating, an agency must have established a category rating policy. Agencies with delegated examining authority under 5 U.S.C. 1101(s)(2) have been required to use category rating as a part of the competitive examining process since November 1, 2010. Therefore, it is likely your agency already has a category rating policy in place.

Why Category Rating?

The Presidential Memorandum - Improving the Federal Recruitment and Hiring Process issued on May 11, 2010, requires agencies to use the category rating approach (as authorized by section 3319 of title 5, United States Code) to assess and select job applicants for positions filled through competitive examining. Agencies would evaluate candidates and place them into two or more pre-determined quality categories. For additional guidance on using category rating, please refer to Chapter 5 of the Delegated Examining Operations Handbook (PDF file) [2.01 MB].

Category Rating (Steps for using Cat Rat)

  1. Review Agency Responsibilities. (READ MORE)
    • Must have a category rating policy established before use
    • Must establish a minimum of two quality categories
    • Must define quality categories before announcing the job
    • May not establish a “not-qualified” category
  2. Identify and Define Two or More Quality Categories. (READ MORE)
    • Quality category definitions should be written to:
      • Reflect requirements to perform job successfully
      • Distinguish differences in quality of candidates’ job-related competencies/KSAs
    • Some factors to consider when developing quality categories may include:
      • Breadth and scope of competencies/KSAs
      • Increased levels of difficulty or complexity of competencies/KSAs
      • Successful performance on the job
      • Level of the job
  3. Announce The Job. (READ MORE)
    • Describe each quality category in the job announcement
    • Describe each category simply by name such as, “Highly Qualified and Qualified” or “Highest-Qualified, Well-Qualified, and Qualified”
    • Use the “How You Will Be Evaluated” section of the job announcement to communicate to applicants that category rating and selection procedures will be used
    • Do not disclose crediting plans and/or rating schedules with scoring keys or define the quality categories
    • Describe how veterans’ preference is applied under category rating procedures
  4. Review Applications. (READ MORE)
    • Review applications for basic qualification requirements established for the position, including specialized experience and/or selective factors, if any. Administer selection assessment (s) (e.g., crediting plan).
  5. Rank Eligible Candidates. (READ MORE)
    • All applicants who meet the basic qualification requirements for the position are ranked by being assigned to the appropriate pre-defined quality category based on the job-related assessment(s).
      WHO?
      • All applicants who meet the basic qualification requirements established for the position are ranked by being assigned to the appropriate quality category based upon the job-related assessment tool(s)
      • Names of eligible candidates may be listed in any order (for example, alphabetical order)
      HOW?
      • Each candidate is placed in one of two or more predefined quality categories instead of being ranked by individual numeric score order. Preference eligibles are placed above non-preference eligibles within each quality category based upon the job-related assessment(s).
  6. Applying Veterans’ Preference. (READ MORE)
    • Identify preference eligibles
    • No veterans’ preference points (5 or 10 points) are added
    • Place qualified preference eligibles with their appropriate veterans’ preference designation code shown on the certificate (i.e., CPS, CP, XP, TP and, SSP), above non-preference eligibles within their respective quality category (preserving veterans’ preference rights)
    • List preference eligibles in any order, for example, alphabetically or by veterans’ preference designation. Regardless how they are listed, the veterans’ preference designation code for the preference eligible must be on the certificate.
    • Qualified preference eligibles with a compensable service-connected disability of 30% or more (CPS) and those with a compensable service-connected disability of more than 10% but less than 30% (CP) are placed at the top of the highest quality category (except for scientific or professional positions at the GS-9 level or higher)

      Quick Reference
      Placement of Preference Eligibles with a
      Compensable Service-Connected Disability of 10% or More (CPS and CP)
      For scientific and professional positions at the GS-9 or higher... Place qualified CPS and CP preference eligibles above non-preference eligibles above within the same quality category for which they are assessed (CPS and CP eligibles do not "float" to the highest quality category)
      For all other positions (series) and grade levels... Place qualified CPS and CP preference eligibles at the top of the highest quality category (CPS and CP eligibles "float" to the highest quality category)
  7. Issue List of Names (i.e., certificate of eligibles) to the Hiring Manager. (READ MORE)
    • When there are fewer than three eligible candidates in the highest quality category
    • Combining (merging) the highest quality category with the next lower quality category and making selections from the newly merged category
    • Merging categories based on agency’s category rating policy
    • Merging Options:
      • The HR specialist, in conjunction with the selecting official, may decide to merge categories at two places in the hiring process:
      • Before certifying/issuing the Certificate of Eligibles or
      • Before selecting an eligible
      • The newly merged category is the new highest quality category
    • Merging Rules:
      • Preference eligibles must be listed ahead of non-preference eligibles in the newly merged category
      • As long as a preference eligible remains in the merged category, the selecting official may not select a non-preference eligible unless the selecting official obtains approval to pass over the preference eligible in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 3318
  8. Select Candidate(s). (READ MORE)
    • Selecting official may select from among the eligible candidates in:
      • Highest quality category or
      • Newly merged category comprised of the highest and the second-highest quality categories
      Example: If there are 20 eligibles in the highest quality category (no preference eligibles), the selecting official may select any one among the 20 eligibles including the 20th eligible because they are all equal in the category.
    • Selection rule: A selecting official may not pass over a preference eligible to select a non-preference eligible unless there are proper and adequate reasons for passing over the preference eligible and the selecting official obtains approval to pass over the preference eligible in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 3318

      Example: If there are 20 eligibles in the highest quality category and five preference eligibles are at the top of the list, the selecting official must select from among the five preference eligibles. The selecting official may not select any non-preference eligible unless the selecting official obtains approval to pass over all (5) preference eligibles under 5 U.S.C. 3318.


Category Rating Procedures


Agency responsibilities (READ MORE)
To use category rating procedures, an agency must fulfill certain requirements, both generally and with respect to filling specific positions.
  1. Agencies are required to meet the following general requirements:
    • Establish a category rating policy that identifies the requirements for implementing category rating for all competitive positions in the agency.
  2. Agencies are required to meet the following requirements when filling a position:
    • Define each quality category through job analysis (see Appendix G of the DEOH) conducted in accordance with the “Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures.” Each category must have a clear definition that distinguishes it from other categories;
    • Describe each quality category in the job announcement and apply the provisions in 5 CFR 330, subparts B, F, and G; and
    • Place applicants into categories based upon their job-related competencies/KSAs; and
    • Establish documentation and record keeping procedures for reconstruction purposes.

Defining quality categories (READ MORE)
In category rating, you must establish and define a minimum of two quality categories. Quality categories should be written to reflect the requirements to perform the job successfully and to distinguish differences in the quality of candidates’ job-related competencies/KSAs. Each quality category will have eligible candidates who have demonstrated, through an assessment tool(s), similar levels of proficiency on the critical job-related competencies/KSAs.

Quality categories must be established and defined by the employing agency prior to announcing the job. Some factors to consider when defining quality categories may include:
  • Breadth and scope of competencies/KSAs;
  • Increased levels of difficulty or complexity of competencies/KSAs;
  • Successful performance on the job; and
  • Level of the job.
You may use test scores as part of the job-related criteria to place eligible candidates into quality categories, as long as the test assesses job-related competencies/KSAs. When defining quality categories using numerical scores, you must be consistent with the technical standards in the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (see 29 CFR part 1607, section 14) with respect to the development of any applicant assessment procedure. You must also comply with the laws, regulations, and policies of merit selection (see 5 U.S.C. § 2301 and 5 U.S.C. § 2302).

When using scores from the Administrative Careers With America (ACWA) assessment for ACWA positions, your agency should coordinate with its legal office on the implementation of your agency’s category rating system.

Examples of quality categories (READ MORE)
Categories are established relative to how qualified an applicant is. You may not establish a “not qualified” category in category rating. Only those found qualified will be placed in a category.

Example 1 Example 2 Example 3
Highly-Qualified Highly-Qualified Highly-Qualified
Qualified Well-Qualified Well-Qualified
Qualified


Example using two quality categories

Human Resources (HR) Specialist (Staffing), GS-201-14, position in an agency headquarters policy office.
  • Highly qualified – Senior HR Specialist in an agency headquarters office with experience writing regulations or agency policy or providing guidance on staffing, downsizing, realignments, classification, or compensation.
  • Qualified – Senior HR Specialist with operations experience in staffing, downsizing, realignments, classification, or compensation.

Example using more than two quality categories

The following example illustrates one way you can define quality categories. This illustration shows how you can define your quality categories for an Accountant, series 510 at the 12 grade level.

Step 1: Use the job analysis process to identify job-related competencies/KSAs. The following three competencies/KSAs were identified through the job analysis process to be job-related; for example:
  1. Oral Communication;
  2. Technical Knowledge; and
  3. Project Management.
Step 2: Identify the indicators of proficiency for each of the competencies/KSAs identified in Step 1:
  1. Oral Communication
    • Makes presentations
    • Answers technical questions
  2. Technical Knowledge
    • Financial analysis
    • Accounting
  3. Project Management
    • Reviews budget cycles
    • Uses project management software
Step 3: Identify level of proficiency required by the level of the position:
  • Based on demonstrating possession only of the competencies/KSAs (applicant’s specific level of proficiency does not matter); or
  • Based on specific level of proficiency for each competency/KSA (applicant’s specific level of proficiency in each competency/KSA does matter).

Example (Possession Only): Accountant, Series 510, Grade 12
Categories Required Competencies/KSAs
Highly-Qualified Oral Communication
Technical Knowledge
Project Management
Well-Qualified Oral Communication
Technical Knowledge
Qualified Technical


Example (Specific Level): Accountant, Series 510, Grade 12

Oral Communication
Proficiency Level Proficiency Level Definition
5 Communicates or explains complex ideas or information clearly.
3 Communicates or explains moderately complex ideas or information clearly.
1 Communicates or explains basic ideas or information clearly.

You can use this format to develop specific proficiency levels for the remaining two competencies/KSAs, (Technical Knowledge and Project Management).

After defining the specific proficiency levels for each of the competencies/KSAs, you can define the quality categories. A possible illustration follows:

Category Definition
Highly-Qualified Eligibles who have demonstrated a proficiency level of “5” in Technical Knowledge; “5” in Project Management; and a minimum of “3” in Oral Communication.
Well-Qualified Eligibles who have demonstrated a proficiency level of at least “3” in all three competencies/KSAs.
Qualified Eligibles who meet basic minimum qualification requirements established for the position, but fail to meet the Well-Qualified category definition.


Example of an inappropriate quality category

There are factors where more is not better, and should not be used to define categories.

An agency is seeking to fill a job that requires an employee to lift 40 pounds. Candidate A can lift 70 pounds and Candidate B can lift 45 pounds.

Because both candidates have the necessary strength to meet the lifting requirements of the job, they are indistinguishable with respect to this factor. Candidate A should not be put into a higher category than Candidate B just because Candidate A can lift more weight.

Ranking eligibles

Applicants who meet the basic minimum qualification requirements established for the position (i.e., OPM-established occupational standards, plus any selective factors) and whose job-related competencies or KSAs have been assessed are ranked by being placed in one of the pre-defined quality categories instead of being ranked in numeric score order. Names of eligible candidates may be listed in any order (for example, alphabetical order), subject to the requirement, described below, that preference eligibles must be listed ahead of non-preference eligibles.

Applying veterans’ preference (READ MORE)
The qualified candidates assigned to a category are not given numeric ratings (scores); therefore, preference eligibles DO NOT receive points, as prescribed by 5 U.S.C. § 3309.

You will identify the qualified preference eligibles and then apply veterans’ preference by listing preference eligibles ahead of non-preference eligibles within the same quality category in which they were assigned based upon the job-related assessment tools(s). No points are assigned under category rating. Qualified preference eligibles with a compensable service-connected disability of 30-percent or more (CPS) and those with a compensable service-connected disability of at least 10-percent but less than 30-percent (CP) move from the category in which they would otherwise be placed to the top of the highest quality category (except for scientific or professional positions at the GS-9 level or higher). As a reminder, a selecting official may not pass over a preference eligible to select a non-preference eligible unless there are grounds for passing over the preference eligible and the agency has complied with the pass over procedures at 5 U.S.C. § 3318.

Order of certification under category rating (READ MORE)
For most jobs and grade levels under category rating, the Certificate of Eligibles, or equivalent, certifies eligibles in the following order:
  1. Interagency Career Transition Assistance Program (ICTAP) eligibles;
  2. Eligibles who lost consideration due to erroneous certification;
  3. Eligibles in highest quality category; and
  4. Eligibles in the next lower quality categories, as needed.

Names referred to selecting official (READ MORE)
You may list the names of eligible candidates on the Certificate of Eligibles in any order (for example, alphabetical order) as long as preference eligibles are listed ahead of non-preference eligibles. The “rule of three” procedures do not apply under category rating. When providing the Certificate of Eligibles to the selecting official, you must:
  • Certify all eligible candidates in the highest quality category; or
  • If there are fewer than three eligible candidates in the highest quality category and you decide to merge the highest quality category with the next lower category, certify all eligible candidates in the newly merged category because it becomes the highest quality category.

Merging categories (READ MORE)
If there are fewer than three candidates in the highest quality category, you have the option of combining (merging) the top two quality categories and making selections from the newly merged category. The newly merged category is the new highest quality category. Preference eligibles must be placed/listed ahead of non-preference eligibles in the newly merged category.

As long as a preference eligible remains in the merged category, the selecting official may not select a non-preference eligible unless the selecting official obtains approval to pass over the preference eligible in accordance with 5 U.S.C. § 3318.

There is no limit to the number of times you can merge categories. The number of times you can merge categories is restricted only by the number of categories you establish.

Again, merging is not mandatory. The human resources specialist should consult with the selecting official to decide whether to merge the top two quality categories. Merging is an option available to the human resources specialist and the selecting official at two places in the hiring process. Merging quality categories is an option before:
  • Certifying/Issuing a Certificate of Eligibles – a human resources specialist, in consultation with the selecting official, has the option to merge the highest quality category with the next lower quality category before issuing a certificate, if there are fewer than three eligible candidates in the highest quality category; and/or
  • Selecting an Eligible – a selecting official, in consultation with the human resources specialist, has the option to merge the highest quality category with the next lower quality category, if there are fewer than three available eligible candidates in the highest quality category from whom to make a selection.
As a reminder, refer to your agency’s category rating policy related to merging categories, in accordance with 5 CFR part 337, subpart C.

Example of merging categories before issuing a certificate (READ MORE)
If your highest quality category (Highly-Qualified) has fewer than three eligible candidates, you and the selecting official may decide to merge the highest quality category (Highly-Qualified) with the next lower quality category (Well-Qualified) before issuing the Certificate of Eligibles. The newly merged category is now your highest quality category (Highly-Qualified) and contains all eligible candidates in any order (for example, alphabetical order) from both categories. Because a preference eligible was in the Well-Qualified category, you must now place/list the preference eligible at the top of the newly merged highest quality category. See below.

Illustration of merging before issuing a certificate

Image. Flowchart with two boxes feeding into a third box. The first box is labeled Highly-Qualified and contains James John (NV) and Peter Wolf (NV). The second box is labeled Well-Qualified and contains Lisa James (TP), Harry Upton (NV), and Jackie Downs (NV). The resulting third box is labeled Newly Merged Highly-Qualified and contains Lisa James (TP), Jackie Downs (NV), James John (NV), Harry Upton (NV), and Peter Wolf (NV).

Note: Merging the highest quality category (Highly-Qualified) with the next lower category (Well-Qualified) requires listing the qualified preference eligible at the top of the newly merged quality category.

Example of merging before selecting an eligible (READ MORE)
Your selecting official needs to fill five positions. The selecting official selects three eligible candidates from the highest quality category (Highly-Qualified) containing five non-preference eligible candidates. The highest quality category now contains only two eligible candidates. Because the selecting official would like to make additional selections, a decision is made to merge the highest quality category with the next lower quality category (Well-Qualified) to increase the number of eligible candidates from which the selecting official can choose.

In the Well-Qualified category, there are two preference eligibles and two non-preference eligibles. Combining (merging) the two quality categories (Highly-Qualified and Well-Qualified) produces a newly merged highest quality category containing the names of the two remaining non-preference eligibles from the Highly-Qualified category and two preference eligibles and two non-preference eligibles from the Well-Qualified category. In the newly merged category, all preference eligibles are placed ahead of all non-preference eligibles. A non-preference eligible may not be selected over a preference eligible without submitting a pass over request and obtaining prior approval from OPM or the agency, depending on the basis for the pass over request. For reconstruction purposes, the human resources specialist documents any selections made prior to the merge, including the date, and documents the date the categories are merged. See illustration below.

Illustration of merging before selecting an eligible

Image. Flowchart with two boxes feeding into a third box. The first box is labeled Highly-Qualified Category and contains Peter Taylor (CP) (Selected), Michael Jones (NV), Quince Lopez (NV), Sam Smith (NV) (Selected), and Troy Wilson (NV) (Selected). The second box is labeled Well-Qualified Category and contains Anne Ramsay (TP), David Sanders (TP), and Homer Curtis (NV). The resulting third box is labeled Newly Merged Category (Dated June 15, 2006), Highly-Qualified Category and contains Anne Ramsay (TP), David Sanders (TP), Homer Curtis (NV), Michael Jones (NV), and Quince Lopez (NV).

Selection procedures (READ MORE)
A selecting official may select any eligible candidate(s) in the highest quality category; except, the selecting official may not select a non-preference eligible over a preference eligible unless the agency submits a request to pass over the preference eligible in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 3318, and the request is approved. If there are only preference eligibles or only non-preference eligibles in the highest quality category, the selecting official may select any eligible candidate in the highest quality category regardless of the number of eligible candidates. But, if there is a combination of preference eligibles and non-preference eligibles in the highest quality category, the selecting official cannot select a non-preference eligible over a preference eligible without submitting a request to pass over the preference eligible and obtaining approval.

Any selection made by the selecting official prior to merging the highest quality category with the next lower quality category is a valid and legal appointment. The name of the selectee is removed from the highest quality category and the individual’s name does not appear in the newly merged highest quality category. For reconstruction purposes, it is important that the selecting official or the human resources specialist document any selections made prior to the merge, including the date, and document the date the categories were merged.

Summary (READ MORE)
In summary, a selecting official:
  • May select eligible candidates from the highest quality category, or
  • May select eligible candidates from a newly merged category comprised of the highest and the second-highest quality categories, if fewer than three candidates were placed in the highest quality category; and
  • May not pass over a preference eligible in the same quality category from which a selection is made, unless the requirements of 5 U.S.C. § 3318(b) are satisfied. In other words, you must select preference eligibles unless you submit a pass over request based on reasons stated in Chapter 6, Section D of the DEOH, issued under 5 CFR 332.406, and the request is approved by OPM or your agency, as appropriate. Your agency headquarters is responsible for establishing pass over procedures for all preference eligibles except those for which OPM has responsibility. Your agency pass over procedures should be the same as those used for the traditional rating, ranking, and selection procedure.
The “three consideration” rule embodied in 5 CFR 332.405 does not apply in category rating. The reference to “three considerations” in 5 U.S.C. § 3317(b) is associated with the traditional process for the discontinuance of certification of preference eligibles from a register, and only applies to category rating in that limited context.

Category Rating Frequently Asked Questions:


  • What is the purpose of category rating? (READ MORE)
    The purpose of category rating is to increase the number of qualified applicants an agency has to choose from for selection while preserving veterans' preference rights. The category rating approach gives agencies the flexibility to assess and select from among applicants in the highest quality category without regard to the "rule of three."
  • Are agencies required to use category rating for all competitive examinations or can they continue to use the traditional "rule of three?" (READ MORE)
    The Presidential Memorandum directs agencies to use the category rating approach in place of the "rule of three" approach.
  • What does an agency need to have in place before implementing category rating? (READ MORE)
    An agency is required to have a category rating policy in place that describes how applicants will be evaluated and placed in two or more quality categories.
  • How are quality categories defined? (READ MORE)
    Quality categories are defined through job analysis. The categories should be written to reflect the requirements to perform the job successfully and to distinguish differences in the quality of candidates' job-related competencies or knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs). Each category has eligible candidates who have demonstrated through an assessment(s) similar levels of proficiency on the critical job-related competencies/KSAs. Some factors to consider when developing categories may include:
    • Breadth and scope of competencies/KSAs;
    • Increased levels of difficulty or complexity of competencies/KSAs;
    • Successful performance on the job; and
    • Level of the job.
    The highest quality category definition should not be written in broad terms solely to increase the number of eligible candidates who may be considered for selection. Instead, the highest quality category definition should be written to identify the best qualified individuals for the position.

    Example: Agency uses two quality categories: Highly Qualified and Qualified. In filling a Human Resources Specialist, GS-201-14, policy position, the agency might define the Highly Qualified category as experience in a senior level HR position writing regulations or agency policy or providing guidance to an agency on staffing, downsizing, realignment, classification, or compensation. The Qualified category might include senior level HR operations experience in staffing, downsizing, realignments, classification, or compensation. More information on how to define quality categories, including examples, is located in the Delegated Examining Operations Handbook in Chapter 5, Section B, Rating Procedures (Category Rating).
  • May agencies use category rating to fill any job that uses an assessment(s) that generates a numerical score? (READ MORE)
    Yes. Agencies may use test scores as part of the job-related criteria used to place candidates into categories, as long as the test assesses job-related KSAs/competencies. When establishing a category definition with numerical scores, agencies must be consistent with the technical standards in the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (see 29 CFR Part 1607) with respect to the development of any applicant assessment procedure and comply with the laws, regulations, and policies of merit selection (see 5 U.S.C. § 2301 and 5 U.S.C. § 2302).
  • How are candidates selected under category rating? (READ MORE)
    Agencies make selections from within the highest quality category regardless of the number of candidates (i.e., the rule of three does not apply). However, preference eligibles receive absolute preference within each category. If a preference eligible is in the category, an agency may not select a non-preference eligible unless the agency requests to pass over the preference eligible in accordance with 5 U.S.C. § 3318, and the request is approved.

    If there are fewer than three candidates in the highest quality category, agencies may combine the highest category with the next lower category and make selections from the merged category. The newly merged category would then constitute the highest quality category. Preference eligibles must be listed ahead of non-preference eligibles in the newly merged category. Once again, as long as a preference eligible remains in the merged category, an agency may not select a non-preference eligible unless the agency receives approval to pass over the preference eligible in accordance with 5 U.S.C. § 3318.
  • When does veterans' preference apply? (READ MORE)
    Veterans' preference applies after the candidates are assessed.
  • How are preference eligibles given preference in selection under category rating? (READ MORE)
    Preference eligibles who meet the qualification requirements are assessed and placed in the appropriate quality categories. Preference eligibles receive veterans' preference by being listed ahead of non-preference eligibles within the same quality category in which they are placed. No preference points, i.e., 5 or 10 points, are added to the preference eligibles' rating. An agency may not select a non-preference eligible if there is a preference eligible in the same category unless the agency receives approval to pass over the preference eligible in accordance with 5 U.S.C. § 3318.
  • How do preference eligibles who have a compensable service-connected disability receive preference in selection? (READ MORE)
    Preference eligibles who meet the qualification requirements for the position and who have a compensable service-connected disability of at least 10 percent must be listed in the highest quality category (except in the case of scientific or professional positions at the GS-9 level or higher). As noted above, an agency may not select a non-preference eligible over a preference eligible in the same category unless the agency receives approval to pass over the preference eligible in accordance with 5 U.S.C. § 3318.
  • Are the procedures used to pass over a preference eligible under category rating the same as those used in traditional numeric rating, ranking, and selection? (READ MORE)
    Yes. The procedures used to pass over a preference eligible under category rating are the same as those used in the traditional "rule of three" process. In the traditional and category rating processes, an agency may not select a non-preference eligible over a higher ranked preference eligible or a preference eligible within the same category, respectively, unless the agency receives approval to pass over the preference eligible in accordance with 5 U.S.C. § 3318.
  • May an agency apply the "three consideration" rule under category rating? (READ MORE)
    No. The "three consideration" rule that is prescribed in 5 CFR 332.405 does not apply in category rating.
  • Does the hiring manager have to interview all the candidates within the category? (READ MORE)
    OPM does not require the hiring manager to interview everyone within a category. All candidates within a category are considered equally qualified. The hiring manager may interview one or more applicants. Managers should refer to their agency-specific policy on this issue because it may vary by agency.
  • Can an applicant appeal his or her rating under category rating? (READ MORE)
    Yes. Applicants have the right of appeal (reconsideration) on an examination rating. The agency must explain to the applicant why the applicant was placed in a particular category (see 5 CFR 300.104(b)). Each agency is required to have an appeal/reconsideration procedure in place.

Resources (READ MORE)