Issuing a Certificate

When SMEs complete the qualifying assessment interviews, you can adjudicate veterans' preference and assign categories based on whether the applicant met or exceeded the requirements during the interviews. After you issue a hiring certificate to the hiring manager, they can either conduct additional interviews or make selections based on transcripts from the phone assessment interviews.

  • HR Specialist
  • Hiring Manager

Adjudicating Preference

During resume review and interview assessments, applicants can be removed from consideration if SMEs determine they’re not qualified based on the required competencies and proficiencies. As HR, you should apply veterans’ preference only to applicants who achieve an overall passing score, then issue the certificate of applicants in the “Best Qualified” category to the hiring manager.

Time in Grade Verification

At this stage, you may verify Time in Grade requirements for qualifying applicants with federal experience.

Post-Certificate Interviews

Hiring managers may conduct additional interviews with applicants from the certificate, or choose instead to rely on the interview transcript notes to determine whether they’ll make selections from the certificate.

To pass over a veteran, hiring managers must meet the requirements of 5 U.S.C. § 3318 and submit a pass over request. Due to the rigorousness of this process, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to pass over a vet for lack of qualifications. However, a pass over request is valid if the applicant isn’t suitable for your office based on reference checks or interviews with hiring managers. For more information, see the “Vet Guide for HR Professionals” on the OPM Website.

Selecting Qualified Applicants from a Certificate

When using the SME-QA process, there should be fewer applicants who make it to the certificate based on their qualifications, and hiring managers should be able to make more selections off of the certificates. Ideally, the extraordinary SME review process that confirms that an applicant meets the required technical qualifications will allow these applicants to receive offers for positions at an agency. If there are more qualified applicants on a certificate than vacancies at an agency, that agency may choose to share the certificate with other offices or agencies. Hiring managers may also check references at this time.


To ensure that qualified applicants aren’t lost to slower bureaucratic processes after the high-touch effort from SMEs, the same HR specialist who oversaw the hiring action should continue to oversee post-selection procedures, including:

  • Managing selections
  • Making tentative offers to applicants
  • Confirming pay settings, and
  • Coordinating applicants’ security paperwork.