Hiring Process

The County has a merit-based civil service personnel system for classified positions. This means that, in order to become a County employee, you must first participate in a competitive process to have your name placed on an employment list. The County has over 1154 different job classifications, and there is a separate employment list for each classification.

The County also has executive and unclassified-level positions, which are not governed by the civil service personnel system. Persons competing for these positions are not placed on employment lists. In addition, persons in these positions do not accrue tenure and serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority.

The following information provides you with an overview of the County's hiring process for classified positions through the Department of Human Resources (DHR), and supplements information which is printed on the reverse side of all recruitment announcements.


The County accepts applications for a job classification only during specified recruitment periods. Recruitments may be open to the public or limited to eligible County employees. Most recruitments are conducted to fill current vacancies; however, some recruitments are held to establish an employment list for anticipated vacancies. Typically, an employment list remains in effect for one year.

The Application Process

If you meet the published requirements and would like to apply for the job, you must complete the on-line employment application, supplemental application form if one is attached, and any other requested materials and submit them to DHR by 11:59 P.M. on the filing deadline. The County of San Diego accepts only on-line applications.

If you apply for a job(s) for which you do not meet the requirements, you will receive a notice via email explaining that you are not eligible to compete in the recruitment. If you do not understand why your application was rejected, or wish to provide additional clarification, you must contact DHR within ten calendar days of the notice of ineligibility.

The Evaluation Process

The evaluation, or testing method, is described in the Evaluation section of the recruitment announcement. The evaluation is designed to assess applicants' job-related knowledge, skills, and abilities.

The evaluation process may be any one or a combination of the following:

  • Rating of information contained in the employment and supplemental application

  • Written multiple choice test

  • Written essay test

  • Oral interview

  • Performance test

  • Work simulation test

  • Assessment Center

The Department of Human Resources will notify you by email of the date, time and place of any required examination, usually within four weeks of the filing deadline.

To prepare for a written test, review and study the information to be covered. Adult education and community colleges offer workshops on how to take civil service tests, and information is provided at the public library.

DHR will notify you of your final score, typically within two to three weeks after the test date.

How Vacancies are Filled

When a County department has a vacancy, DHR will provide that department with the names, in alphabetical order, of the best qualified applicants on the employment list. The number of names provided depends on the number of vacancies to be filled. The applicants will also receive a notice stating that the department is considering them for employment.

The hiring department will determine those candidates who are most qualified for its particular vacancy through any combination of the following: application review, interviews, performance test, reference check, or other job-related assessment process.

If You Are Selected

If you are selected for the position, you will be scheduled for a pre-employment medical examination and a background investigation appointment, which includes mandatory drug and alcohol testing. Upon successful completion, your start date will be established. You will be required to utilize electronic direct deposit of your paychecks to the bank or financial institution of your choice.

If You Are Not Selected

If you are not selected by the hiring department, your name will remain on the employment list for that classification until the specified expiration date that is printed on your notice of test results, and you may be considered for future hiring.


For Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), click here.

For instructions on How to Apply, click here.