Frequently Asked Questions

Administrative Services - FAQs

How do I apply for a job opening or exam with the City of Albany?

The first step to City employment is checking the announcements for job openings and examinations. Announcements are available at City Hall Room 301, at all public libraries, and at 125 other locations in the community.

The next step is filling out an application for the job openings or exams you think match your interests and qualifications. Application forms are available at City Hall, Room 301. As you complete the application, make sure that you pay close attention to the minimum qualifications for the job category. Describe the areas of your experience or education that show you meet those requirements. In the application review process, analysts will match the experience and training on your application with the requirements stated on the announcement to determine if you qualify for the exam or job opening.

 

How do I apply for more than one job or exam?

You must complete a separate application for every job or exam for which you want to be considered. (The City uses the same application form for both current job openings and Civil Service examinations.) Remember that every job category will have different training and experience requirements. Include information about your educational background, experience, and relevant licenses you hold that shows that you meet the minimum qualifications stated on the announcement.

 

Do all applicants take an exam?

No. For some job categories, all candidates who meet the requirements for appointment (“minimum qualifications”) are eligible for consideration by the hiring department without an examination. For a small number of jobs there are no experience or education requirements. But for most job categories, candidates who meet the minimum requirements are ranked by means of an examination. The department then makes its choice from the people at the top of the “eligible list.”

 

How do I find out about the job duties, requirements and type of examination?

Postings for job openings and exam announcements offer a wealth of information about jobs and their requirements. They describe the duties of the job. The “minimum qualifications” list the experience or education needed to be approved for the exam or considered for the job opening. In addition, the exam announcement includes the exam’s “scope,” a description of the topics to be tested, the type(s) of exam – there may be more than one part – and the weight given to each part.

 

Can I apply for an exam even if it hasn’t been announced?
No.

 

What happens to applications for job openings and examinations that are submitted after the deadline?

Applications submitted after the final filing date are not accepted. The exam announcement is considered to be a kind of contract with the public. In order to be fair to everyone who sees the announcement, we must reject any application that is submitted after the closing date for applications. Therefore it is important to pay close attention to all the dates on the exam announcement. If a candidate who submits a late application also submits an application fee, the fee is not refunded.

 

What happens if I don’t meet the minimum qualifications for the exam?

If the analyst determines that the combination of education and experience you described on your application doesn’t meet the minimum qualifications, you will get a letter from the City. You will be given a chance to submit more information or clarify what you told us before. If you did not tell us about all your relevant experience or education the first time, this is your opportunity.

 

When are letters admitting candidates to the exams sent out?

Admittance letters are sent out 10-14 days before the exam date. If you have not received your admittance letter by the Wednesday before the exam date, you should call Personnel at 434-5049.

 

Must I live within the City limits to apply for a job with the City of Albany?

No. The City of Albany may choose to exercise a “residency preference” in hiring. That means that the names of City residents will be sent to departments for consideration first, and the names of non-residents only if there are not enough residents available to fill the positions.

 

Civil Service Exams - FAQs

How do I prepare for the exam? What do I study?

The City of Albany’s exams are all related to the requirements of specific job categories; they are not general tests of intelligence or ability. Therefore the first way to prepare for the exam is to get an exam announcement and read it carefully. The “Scope” of the exam will provide a lot of information including the form of the exam (written, oral, evaluation of training and experience), the weight given to each part and the subjects to be tested. Once you know the content of the exam, there are a couple of approaches to getting ready. One is to use a review or test book in the area to be tested. For example, if Writing Skills will be tested, a good grammar textbook may be the place to start. Another possibility is to look at the Civil Service review books (e.g., Arco series) in the public library for sample questions and answers. Even if there isn’t a review book for exactly the test you’re taking, there may be others that include the same topics. Compare the scopes of the two exams to find out. In addition, many of those books contain general strategies for test taking: how to stay calm, how to study, etc., and they can provide useful information to help in your preparation.

There may be a study guide for your examination available on the New York State Civil Service website. You can look for these in the “Test Guides” section. The address is www.cs.state.ny.us/jobseeker/local/index.cfm.

 

Alternate Examination Date Policy - FAQs

I. An alternate examination date will be granted to a candidate when warranted by one of the following reasons:
  1. A death in the candidate’s immediate family or household within the week preceding the examination.  Immediate family shall include the spouse, domestic partner, children, siblings, parents and grandparents of the candidate or spouse.  
  2. Military commitment.
  3. Religious beliefs that preclude a candidate from taking an examination on the announced date.
  4. A conflict with a previously scheduled commitment to participate as a member of a traditional, religious or civil ceremonial party, such as a wedding, baptism, bar mitzvah or graduation; or as a member of the immediate family or household of the individual for whom the ceremony is being held.  
  5. A conflict with a professional or educational examination.  Professional examinations would include those for CPA, ACSW and the Bar.  Educational examinations would include SAT, College Boards and Graduate Record Examination.
  6. A conflict with a previously scheduled vacation or professional conference for which nonrefundable down payments were made before the examination announcement was issued.
  7. Required court appearances.
  8. Medical emergencies involving a hospital confinement or certification from a physician that the candidate is unable to appear for the examination due to a specific medical problem of the candidate or member of the immediate family or household.
  9. Emergency weather conditions, verified by the local public safety agency, that lead to the closing of specific roads, highways or independent transportation services which prevent a candidate from reaching the test center.
  10. Other reasons not listed will be considered on an individual case basis.

 

II. Limitations in Applying Alternate Test Date Policy
  1. A candidate who takes a test on an alternate date has a responsibility to avoid exposure to any of the test content.  The risk of such exposure is increased after the pre-rating review, which is usually held the Saturday following the written test, and for that reason, alternate test dates will generally not be granted later than the date of the pre-rating review.  
  2. Candidates approved to take the test on the alternate date will be required to sign an affirmation that they have not discussed the test content with any individual.  If the affirmation is found to be false, the candidate will be disqualified and may be subject to civil or criminal liability or penalty.  
  3. When a candidate requests an alternate test date because of one of the reasons set forth in Section I above, the candidate will be required to provide appropriate information.
  4. If two or more members of a household are candidates for the same examination and one member requests an alternate test date, all members of the household participating in the examination will be required to take the written test on the alternate date.  If any member of the household has taken the test on the scheduled date, no other member of the household will be permitted to take the test on an alternate date.
  5. Where an alternate test date request can only be accommodated by administering a test on an individual basis, the candidate may be assessed the cost of the monitoring services unless there is a compelling reason to waive this cost.  Candidates will be advised of the approximate cost of the individual test when arrangements for an alternate date are being made.

 

What is provisional appointment?

A “provisional” appointment is made when there is no eligible list for a job category and a department wishes to make an appointment immediately. In this case the department may choose anyone who meets the minimum requirements for the job. However, a test will be given eventually for that job category. If you are appointed “provisionally”, you must not only pass the exam when it is given, but you must be reachable for appointment by placing among the top three candidates on the list.

 

What are “Promotional” and “Open-Competitive” exams?

For “Promotional” exams, applications will be accepted only from current City employees who meet certain criteria. When an exam is announced as “Open Competitive,” applications will be accepted from anyone, either members of the public or City employees.

 

What kinds of exams are there?

The City tests for a wide range of competencies needed to do specific jobs, and the type of test is chosen to match the ability to be tested. These are some of the terms that appear on announcements to describe different types of exams:

A written exam tests for knowledge of one or more subjects. The format may be multiple-choice, short answer or essay.

An oral performance exam asks you to respond orally to a job-related situation. You may interact with a role player, or describe how you would act, or make a presentation after studying written materials. Oral performance exams are used to test for interpersonal and communication skills, and for content knowledge.

An Evaluation of Training and Experience exam (T&E) is used when specific education or experience is a good predictor of success at a job. Often, you are sent a special questionnaire in which you are asked about your education and work or volunteer experience in areas related to the demands of the job.

In a computer-based simulation, you respond on a computer to a series of job-related situations, which are presented either in writing or through an audiotape.

A physical agility exam tests for the physical demands of a job. You do physical exercises or sample tasks from the job that show your physical abilities.

In clerical skills performance tests, you type sample passages in a timed setting at rates that are typical for the job in question.

These are the most frequently used test types. Others may be used, and they are described on the exam announcement.

 

Testing Results FAQs

What is the usual amount of time to get exam results back?

The amount of time between taking a test and getting results varies, but in general you should count on at least several weeks and sometimes as long as three or four months for exam results. Why does it take so long? The reasons vary: many examinations come from New York State Civil Service in Albany, and they process, rate and analyze exams from across the State at the same time. If the examination was decentralized, the rating and administrative processing may be done immediately or may take several weeks. If you don’t hear from us right away, sit tight. Every exam candidate always receives a written report of results.

 

Do I get extra points on an exam if I am a veteran?

New York State Civil Service Law provides that veterans who have served in time of war and meet certain other conditions may be eligible to have “veteran’s credits” added to their score on a Civil Service exam. Veteran’s credits are added only to the scores of passing candidates, and they may be used only once for appointment. Non-disabled veterans may receive 5 additional credits on open competitive exams, and 2.5 credits on promotional exams. Disabled veterans may receive 10 additional credits on open competitive exams, and 5 credits on promotional exams. Applications for veterans credits and copies of the section of NYS Civil Service Law dealing with veterans credits may be obtained in City Hall Room 301.

 

Can I review my exam results?

In most cases, the letter notifying you of your exam results will contain instructions for requesting a “computational review” of your exam score. In this process, you will attend a review meeting where you will receive copies of the documents used to figure out your score, and you will be able to check to make sure your score was computer correctly. However, you will not be able to review questions and answers in this type of review.

 

What is an “eligible list”?

Every candidate who passes a Civil Service exam is placed on a list of people eligible to be hired for positions in that job category. It is called a “list of eligibles,” or “eligible list.” Candidates are listed in the order of their rank on the list, which is determined by their “final score.” Final scores reflect scores on the exam, plus any points added for veteran’s credits (or for “seniority points” on promotional exams.)

 

How long is an eligible list used for hiring?

Civil Service eligible lists are initially established for one year, in accordance with New York State Civil Service Law. They may be extended yearly, to a total maximum length of four years.

 

Can the public see eligible lists?

Eligible lists are public documents. A copy of any eligible list established by the City can be viewed during working hours (8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.) at City Hall Room 301. Ask for the eligible list for the title in which you are interested.

 

Must I take a test again when the list expires?

Civil Service eligible lists are valid for at least one year, and up to four years, in accordance with state law. When the list expires, candidates must re-apply and take the exam again in order to continue eligibility. A new list will be established as a result of the new test.