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Thread: Civil service exams

  1. #1
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Civil service exams

    I have been selected to take the civil service exam in conjunction with a Planner I position I applied for with a large western Michigan city.

    I have never had to take a civil service exam and am curious as to what these normally include. Are the exams generally the same for all positions within a city or might the planning department have a different exam than the IT department or the water department?

    Also, by no means am I expecting an interview to be on the same day as the civil service exam so what would my fellow Cyburbians recommend one wear to an exam?
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

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    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    I have been selected to take the civil service exam in conjunction with a Planner I position I applied for with a large western Michigan city.

    I have never had to take a civil service exam and am curious as to what these normally include. Are the exams generally the same for all positions within a city or might the planning department have a different exam than the IT department or the water department?

    Also, by no means am I expecting an interview to be on the same day as the civil service exam so what would my fellow Cyburbians recommend one wear to an exam?
    Check the date they've scheduled it on the notice letter...August 22 is not a Tuesday. (I've left a message for my pard in HR.)

    It's a specialized exam for planning, with some trick questions. For instance, they offer several multiple choice answers on esoterica, and move the decimal point around. (Helps weed out the Brittneys.) It has not been difficult, but you'll feel like you've learned something. (I've taken versions of these exams at least twice.)

    Most folks show up in corporate casual. The written exam is screening for the interview phase; might be 50 folks there on the third floor of the cop shop, and only a handful get interviewed.

    (This probably looks frightfully magnanimous, but I've learned that the only way to run my life is to be nice, and helpful, to everyone. In my current line of work, I am supervising someone who was my boss a few years back. Steering you wrong won't do anything for me; it's all about the #2 pencils filling in the circles completely. Let's get coffee afterwards, eh?)

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    Cyburbian Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    good luck to you!

    i'll be taking the Civil Service exam for Senior Planner in December. never had to take a civil service test before.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Veloise View post
    Check the date they've scheduled it on the notice letter...August 22 is not a Tuesday. (I've left a message for my pard in HR.
    I noticed that mistake on there right away and called them first thing this morning and got the correct date. My fantasy football auction is on FRIDAY August 29 so right away I knew the 22nd couldn't be a Tuesday.

    More specifically, thank you for the tips. I've never had a job that required an actual exam (unless you count the ASVAB for going into the Marine Corps) so your tips on what to expect are greatly appreciated.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

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    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol View post
    good luck to you!

    i'll be taking the Civil Service exam for Senior Planner in December. never had to take a civil service test before.
    When are the NYS planner exams offered? I need to take the one for Planner I (or whatever it's called) but the civil service announcement website says nothing. It doesn't mention Senior Planner exams either. Hmm.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    FWIW, I've also sat for exams that were created and proctored by the Michigan Municipal League. They are tough, too, but a bit more forgiving of those who use calculators over good sense.

    Sample answers: (metric conversion department)

    a) 39.36
    b) 3.936
    c) .3936
    d) 393.6

    I glanced through teh interwebs for CS exam details, but apparently there aren't enough would-be public servants to create a market for study guides.

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    Civil Service Exams

    Quote Originally posted by MacheteJames View post
    When are the NYS planner exams offered? I need to take the one for Planner I (or whatever it's called) but the civil service announcement website says nothing. It doesn't mention Senior Planner exams either. Hmm.
    Exams for the past several years have been held in November. Registration is typically in September, and available through those of the 57 counties (excludes the 5 boroughs of NYC) that will be having an exam. There are provisions that allow you to take them all in one location, however.

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    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Costume parade: everything from one 2-pc black suit (dress shirt and tie) to shorts and T-shirts (three). Several planner uniforms: the summer version (light blue long sleeves, khakis) and the winter (exact same shade of royal blue, long sleeve, with black pants). Lots of striped golf shirts over solid slacks. (I sat in the back row to better assess the options.)

    Us grrlls were a little more colorful. One grey suit (high heels), a colorful blouse, female planner uni (light blue over grey skirt). Several pairs of high heels. (Gals, quit letting Madison Avenue dictate what "dress" shoes are!) One black pants with a lavender tank top and a striped shirt (worn open, like a jacket), black low-heeded sandals (K-Mart Cobbie Cuddlers) and subtle bicycle earrings.

    As for the questions, turns out it's a violation of this jurisdiction's municipal statutes (where I live!) to provide anything off the exam. I'm glad I did some Wikipedia woodshedding (43, 560).

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by MacheteJames View post
    When are the NYS planner exams offered? I need to take the one for Planner I (or whatever it's called) but the civil service announcement website says nothing. It doesn't mention Senior Planner exams either. Hmm.
    mine will be in December and i only know because our Civil Service Officer told me he got a date for it and will let me know when he officially posts it.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

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    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    I should probably know this, but what is the purpose of Civil Service exams?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    I should probably know this, but what is the purpose of Civil Service exams?
    Municipal employment with a large jurisdiction.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    I should probably know this, but what is the purpose of Civil Service exams?
    They were originally instituted to cut down on patronage hiring and ensure that government employees were competent.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by teofilo View post
    They were originally instituted to cut down on patronage hiring and ensure that government employees were competent.
    Almost any article on freep.com with more than a couple hundred page views will help illustrate the rationale behind the process.

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    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    I'm about to apply for the Assistant Planner and Planner tests, which will be offered in December. The application qualifications are strange, however. They list Engineering, Architecture, and Landscape Architecture (along with Planning and Geography) as suitable fields and also allow "closely allied fields". For whatever reason, my BA in Political Science and Sociology and my MA in Economic Development are not considered allied fields (!). I'm good to go with the Assistant Planner test since I have the requisite on the job experience, but I now have to make a case to County HR as to why my degrees should be considered allied fields for the Planner test

  15. #15
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by MacheteJames View post
    I'm about to apply for the Assistant Planner and Planner tests, which will be offered in December. The application qualifications are strange, however. They list Engineering, Architecture, and Landscape Architecture (along with Planning and Geography) as suitable fields and also allow "closely allied fields". For whatever reason, my BA in Political Science and Sociology and my MA in Economic Development are not considered allied fields (!). I'm good to go with the Assistant Planner test since I have the requisite on the job experience, but I now have to make a case to County HR as to why my degrees should be considered allied fields for the Planner test
    I know that in some jurisdictions making that case is much easier than it sounds and is often a matter of just talking to a human since often it was just a computer that kicked out your application for not being in an allied field.

    One suggestion I would make before contacting the HR trolls is that this is a great time to use your networking skills; if you know somebody in the department you are applying for (hopefully somebody with a little pull), contact them and see if they would be willing to contact HR on your behalf in order to help make your case for you. The person in the department doesn't need to say, "Yes, we want to hire MacheteJames" but instead they just need to let HR know that they would be willing to consider you.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  16. #16
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Well, I already have a position and have been here for a year. I need to take and pass the CS exam in order to keep it. I did contact an HR drone yesterday and I can tell that this will be a fight. I was told that Sociology and Political Science are not planning related, that "Planning is more a subset of Engineering" and that economic development is not an allied field. Certainly surprising when you consider that I helped conduct a downtown economic development summit here over the summer. *cracks knuckles and prepares for battle*

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