Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

This area contains Frequently Asked Questions we've received at StateJobsNY.

How can I get a state job?

Important Update: New York State recently implemented a program to temporarily waive the examination requirement for nearly all jobs. Under the New York Hiring for Emergency Limited Placement Program Statewide or NY HELPS Program, jobseekers must meet the jobs’ minimum qualifications and any other conditions of employment.

Most New York State jobs require that an applicant take and pass an appropriate civil service examination in order to qualify as a candidate for employment. These exams are the first step in the process, and are specific to a job or a class of jobs (for example, there might be a specific test for an air conditioning mechanic, but one clerical test might suit for 10 or 12 different titles), and are scheduled as a previous eligible list ages or diminishes with new hires.

Civil service examinations are scheduled and resultant eligible lists are administered by the NYS Department of Civil Service. The Department also administers the civil service exam system for a number of localities (e.g., counties and cities) within the state. Examinations are given when a future need for employees in that particular occupation (or occupational group) is anticipated.

Where do I find information about the civil service exams available?

You can always find a link to a list of the Department's currently scheduled examinations on the left side of our home page ( This page offers several categories of examinations.

Here are some of the links you'll find on the Department's Examinations page:

  • "Open to All Qualified Individuals" means that you do not need to be an existing state employee to take the test. Each examination announcement includes a "Minimum Qualifications" section, and you need to meet these qualifications in order to take the test. Typically, these exams are for entry into state service, and you will need to take further tests in order to be promoted.

  • "Open to State Employees" means that these are promotional tests for existing state employees. State employees are eligible to take any other test for which they meet the minimum qualifications, in addition to promotional examinations.

  • "Continuous Recruitment Examination Announcements" means that exams in this field are being given on a periodic basis, and you can apply at any time, as long as you meet the minimum qualifications.

  • "Online Training and Experience Examinations" are tests for which you apply online, and answer an exhaustive questionnaire about your education and work experience. When an agency identifies a vacancy for one of these titles, the agency fills out a questionnaire about what qualifications they need candidates to possess. The department matches the agency's needs with the qualifications of available candidates, and a list of eligible candidates is generated.

  • "Test Guides and Resource Booklets" are provided by Civil Service for select examinations, to provide information on the types and formats of test questions.

  • "Tentative Examination Schedule" lists the tests that have been scheduled, the dates they will be held, and the deadlines for applications.

I have some questions about some of the examination announcements I've seen. Where can I call to get answers?

Civil service examinations are administered by the NYS Department of Civil Service.

You can find a list of the department telephone numbers for examination information on our website at contacts of the NYS Department of Civil Service site.

What happens after I take the civil service examination?

The Department of Civil Service reviews your exam and assigns a score. This score — presuming you have passed the exam — will determine how quickly you are contacted by an agency with a vacancy for that position. Agencies that request an "eligible list" from the department will be provided with individuals who have achieved one of the top three scores for the exam, and agencies must select from among candidates with the top three scores. The list is winnowed in this way, with higher-scoring individuals being canvassed and hired before lower-scoring individuals.

If your score is low (relative to the scores attained by other test-takers), you may not be called in for an interview until the list is nearly exhausted, or the list may expire before your grade is reached. Except for high-demand occupations, the eligible list will usually expire in one year.

If your score is high, an agency with a vacancy may send you a "canvas letter," which asks various questions about your availability to fill the vacancy, and providing a deadline for the return of that information. Many agencies will ask for your resume at this time. The canvas letter is not an offer of a job. You may complete all the information, attach a resume, and return your canvas letter by the deadline, but still not be contacted.

After the deadline has been reached, the agency will sort through all the resumes received and call a number of individuals in for interviews, and in some cases, for follow-up interviews. You should NEVER quit an existing job until you have a firm commitment from the hiring agency, preferably in writing.

Once you are hired, you will have to successfully serve a probationary period in order to become a permanent employee. At that time, you will be able to take promotional exams, or apply for jobs in different parts of your agency, or in other agencies.

I have heard that Agency X has a vacancy for a particular position, but it's not on your list. Why? And where can I find out about it?

Agencies participate in StateJobsNY on a voluntary basis. Some agencies do not participate at all, and for non-participating agencies, where possible, we've tried to include links to the employment opportunity pages on individual agency websites. If you still cannot find information on the vacancy you're interested in, you can call Agency X's personnel office to inquire. Most state agencies are listed in the blue pages of your local telephone directory.

If you have any questions, please contact the Department of Civil Service PIO by email.