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Woman Taking a Test

State statutes require open and fair competitive examinations to measure specific job-related knowledge, skills, abilities, behaviors and other competencies of qualified applicants. A valid testing program provides the means for identifying the best qualified candidates in a fair and equitable manner. If multiple components are used in an examination process, applicants may be required to pass one component before proceeding to the next testing phase.


The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment develops and administers a variety of  examination types such as:


(Please see our Career Skills Enhancement page for additional resources)


Applicants are ranked on the basis of the information they provide on the employment application. This method credits education, training, work experience and/or accomplishments that demonstrate possession of job-related knowledge, skills and abilities.

These exams are assembled tests (candidates are required to report to a given location at a specified time for the purpose of testing). Test may include multiple-choice, short answer and essay test items. The most frequently used is a multiple-choice exam in which test-takers select the most correct answer from the choices presented. Some tests have been automated to allow for testing on a personal computer. Taking a test on a computer does not usually require prior computer experience. Detailed instructions from a testing monitor are provided to test-takers.

An oral board is a structured oral examination in which applicants are asked to verbally respond to a series of predefined questions, which are administered by a board of subject matter experts. These questions are typically used to assess an applicant's qualifications, job-related knowledge, skills and abilities. Questions may take a number of different formats to gain information regarding qualifications (education, training and/or experience), worker requirements (willingness to work under certain conditions, shifts, overtime), job knowledge, job samples (write a memo, give a presentation), situational (work scenarios),or past behavior (give an example of when you solved a critical problem).



Applicants perform one or more tasks typical of the job class for which they are competing, such as typing, writing a letter to convey information or a decision, delivering a speech or presentation, or proofreading a correspondence. Performance exams are best used to measure specific demonstrable skills and typically are used to test hands-on ability to perform the tasks of a job.

When candidates are required to submit a cover/canvass letter as a part of the application, it may be used as a test. The canvas letter is usually used to test for candidate’s interest in the job and job fit (whether the candidate presents the knowledge, skills and abilities the job demands).

  • T&E Type C (checklists) asks applicants to complete a rating form or checklist indicating their training and/or experience with a variety of work behaviors or tasks. On a typical task-based checklist, applicants indicate whether they have performed the tasks, how often they have performed the tasks, or how much time they have spent performing the tasks. On some checklists, applicants may rate how effectively they have performed the tasks, how closely they were supervised in performing the tasks, whether they have received training directly related to the tasks, or whether they have trained others on the task. In addition to explaining their experience, candidates may be asked to provide information about their educational background or specific skills that might have prepared them to perform each task. Checklist methods may give a job preview and ask applicants about their willingness to accept the job.


  • T&E Type N (narrative) instructions ask the candidates to answer training and experience questions in a narrative form. The narrative will be rated by subject matter experts using predetermined rating criteria.


  • T&E Type A (application) is similar to an Application Review. The difference is that the testing specialist evaluates and rates information in the applications. A rating is completed using pre-established, job-related criteria applied consistently to all applicants who meet the minimum qualification requirements.


An assessment center is an assembled test in which applicants participate in a variety of individual and group situational exercises (e.g., in-basket exercise, leaderless group discussions, interview or role playing) which might include paper/pencil tests. The applicants are rated and assessed by a team of trained assessors who can observe the applicants in job simulations; review information from and about them; and, as a team, discuss and reach conclusions about the applicants' qualifications for the job. An assessment center most typically is used as an assessment technique for supervisory or management positions.

A Background Check Exam is an extensive investigation into the background of an applicant, which includes such areas as the applicant's arrest record, credit history and military discharges. Background checks should be done if the job analysis has Identified areas where previous behavior would be relate to job performance or where there is risk of charges of negligent hiring, as in law enforcement positions.


The Thought and Strategy Paper requires candidates to solve problems, formulate plans and make decisions. The questions in Thought and Strategy Papers give the candidates a problematic situation and ask how they would solve the problem.