I've been invited to the Febuary OA and will be flying to DC from oversees at a high personal expense. I have, however, learned that there are about 800 people that have already passed the OA, been cleared, and are sitting on the register. If this is the case and DOS is only going to hire maybe 250 officers a year why are you still offering the FSOT and inviting people to the OA?
If I pass with a low score why should I spend the time on the medical and security clearances when there is no chance of getting hired? There seems to be a lot of money being wasted getting peole onto the register when you have no intention to hire them. Am I missing something and there are in fact not that many people on the registers, or they will be hired in such a way that those of us about to take the OA have a chance even if we don't speak a critical language or get a super high score?
Hi Eric - thanks for your interest in the Foreign Service and no, you aren't missing anything. Your numbers are roughly correct -- although we might be able to do more hiring than you suggest -- but clearly not every candidate who makes it on to a register will eventually be offered a job. Still, our process is designed to ensure that anyone interested in joining the Foreign Service has the opportunity to compete for the available positions.
As you noted, each candidate's individual score determines his/her place on the register. The register is dynamic and a candidate's position can change in either direction. When we receive authority to hire new officers, we make offers in order down the register. Since candidates can decline an offer or ask their offer be deferred, we often move further down the register than might be expected. In addition, we hire based on the five career tracks, so we're actually going down five separate registers and some career tracks have fewer candidates than others.
I hope this information helps you decide whether or not to accept our offer to sit for the oral exam. Regardless of your decision, thanks again for your interest.
Thank you for the info, it answered many of my questions. Still, I guess I don't understand how if budgets are tight you'd want to pay to test more people, spend money on medical and security clearances, then have hundreds of them expire off of the register. Couldn't you use some of the money saved to instead higher more people?
I guess I'd like to have a complete as picture as possible before I test. I'd hate to get excited about passing the OA, only to later learn my score, say 5.4, isn't enough to get me even close to being hired.
I'm assuming you'll invite fewer people to the FSOT and OA moving forward. But it would still need to be a significantly lower number - maybe 1/3 as many people - to put a dent into the large registers you have. Is this something DOS is considering? If not, why not?
Eric - We are bringing down the number of candidates who will be invited to take the oral exam. Since we give the written test three times a year and oral invitations stem from that -- we have the opportunity to adjust the numbers regularly and follow a fairly complex formula.
Still, we will always have more candidates who qualify for the register than we will have jobs. This is by design. While there is some cost involved in, we consider it an investment in ensuring we are selecting from the most talented and most diverse group of candidates America has to offer.
I wish I could give you a more complete picture - but there are definitely no guarantees. If you're seriously interested in a Foreign Service career, I would recommend you take the test. If financial hardship prevents that now, you could also consider starting another candidacy by passing a future written exam when attending the orals might be easier. All the best
You previously said "Still, we will always have more candidates who qualify for the register than we will have jobs. This is by design. While there is some cost involved in, we consider it an investment in ensuring we are selecting from the most talented and most diverse group of candidates America has to offer"
While I understand why DOS's strategy of having more people on the register than they have positions, I wondered if you had more information on how big a buffer they want. As has been mentioned before there are hundreds of people on each register and hiring rates are likely to be substanitally reduced. For example, I'm on one of the less competitive cones (Con, Econ, Mgmt) with a 5.57. There were around 90 people lower than me on the register and 30 or so ahead of me. I can't get the Register's office to give me a straight answer on whether I have any chance of getting a call. It does, however, seem overkill for DOS to not go far enough down the register to get to candidates like me. Why let 90 people expire off the registers, since that seems more than the buffer zone DOS needs to "select from the most talented...group of candidates."
Maybe I'm missing something, but I was wondering if DOS was, in fact, willing to let that many candidates expire of the registers?
Hi Karen -
Our hiring formulas are fairly complex and based on a number of assumptions that frequently change. Since the entire intake process frequently takes a year or more, the effect of decisions we take now take awhile to become apparent.
As you and Eric both note, our future hiring is expected to decline based on the actions Congress takes to address the fiscal deficit. I note, however, that no final decisions have been made for either the 2011 or 2012 budgets.
Until recently, the budget has been supportive of increased State Department hiring and our healthy registers are the result of that. Our final budgets for 2011 and 2012 will determine how many candidates will be offered jobs and how many candidacies will expire. Based on historic trends, about 80 percent of those who make it on to the registers are offered a position, but it does vary by career track and year.
I understand your frustration but there is no "straight answer" for our registrars to give you. We don't want them speculating on your chances. It sounds like you know your standing on the register. It will now come down to the number of candidates we are authorized to hire during your term on the registrar, the number of candidates who come on to the register with a higher score than you and the number of candidates ahead of you who decline positions when they are offered.
I hope this helps and all the best.
I've heard in the past that sometimes you used to have different passing number for the oral assessment. Maybe you needed a 5.5 to pass Pol and I 5.4 to pass PD etc. Is this true? And if so, is this something you might do again?
Thank you for your question. Some years ago, the FSOT had career-track specific questions and different tracks needed different FSOT passing scores. This is no longer true - the FSOT passing score for all tracks is 154. The Oral Assessment passing score likewise is the same (5.25) for all career tracks.