Holistic assessment in public service recruitment

We thank Mr Patrick Tan Siong Kuan and Mr Raymond Tan Chye Yong for their letters (Grades matter in government service and Change pay scheme for fresh grads; both on Oct 8).

We would like to assure the writers that the public service takes a holistic view of applicants in our hiring decisions.

Public service recruiters do not look at only grades, but also assess job applicants based on the relevance of their past work experience, skills, professional qualifications and credentials needed for the job.

For applicants with no prior work experience, hiring agencies look at their academic performance and participation in co-curricular activities, internships and other activities outside of formal education as a proxy for the skills, knowledge and attributes that the job may require, such as problem-solving skills and leadership qualities.

In all cases, hiring agencies take into account important factors such as personal attributes that embody the public service values of integrity, service and excellence.

In determining starting salaries, agencies take into account these various factors to approximate the value a successful applicant brings to the job, and consider competitive market offerings.

Once hired, it is performance on the job that determines career progression; starting academic grade has no impact.

Similarly, the public service evaluates scholarship applicants on whole-person qualities beyond academic grades.

These factors include co-curricular activities, community service, leadership qualities, character and values, as well as passion to serve in the public service.

An O-level qualification is not a mandatory requirement for applicants to the Public Service Commission and ministry undergraduate scholarships.

Applicants seeking undergraduate scholarships may also provide other pre-university qualifications including the International Baccalaureate, polytechnic qualifications or high school diploma from international schools, if they do not have an A-level qualification.

As for applicants seeking master's scholarships, they are typically in-service officers and it is their performance on the job and potential to continue to serve well in the public service that matter.

Cynthia Leow (Ms)

Director, Workforce Planning and Capabilities

Public Service Division

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2018, with the headline 'Holistic assessment in public service recruitment'. Print Edition | Subscribe