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​Merit-based (relatively equal) staffing is identical to merit-based staffing right up to, and including, the point of assigning scores to assessed candidates. The model is based on the principle of merit, which goes beyond finding a "qualified" candidate and focuses on identifying the best overall candidate.

This model , in addition to the required competencies ("brings"), also considers other relevant differentiating factors including education, experience, and past work performance which may allow a qualified candidate to stand out above other qualified candidates.

As such, for applicants who have been short-listed for further assessment, this model follows a full merit-based assessment process to score each competency. The difference from the full merit-based selection process is that if after assessment, there are qualified candidates with seniority, the calculation of a "relatively equal" score must be done to determine if any of them has scored within 10 per cent of the top candidate's overall score. The most senior (and qualified) candidate who meets or exceeds the relatively equal score is selected.

When is this model applied in the Government of Saskatchewan?

It is a SGEU model used when staffing SGEU classification level 10 supervisors, and all SGEU levels 11 and above.

It applies to the following SGEU employment types only:

  • Permanent full-time
  • Permanent part-time
  • Permanent labour service
  • Terms of nine (9) months or greater

How is it applied?

The model is applied in terms of following a few simple steps:

Step #1: Competency Selection (This stage is identical to competency selection for full merit)

  • Select "bring" competencies from the relevant in-scope competency profile
  • Establish and document the level at which each competency must be demonstrated to be successful in the role (this will help in preparation for assessment, as well as help in application of a consistent, fair and defensible hiring approach)
  • Identify what an ideal candidate looks like (i.e. Who would be the perfect candidate for the role? What type of person would they be? What type of experience would they have? What other assets or factors would the ideal candidate bring to the table above and beyond the core competency requirements?) (This is what is unique to merit staffing – the content above and beyond the core competency requirements)
  • Whatever these ideals and differentiating factors are, they must be relevant to the role, even if they are not requirements for it.

Step #2: Advertising the Role (This stage is identical to full merit advertising)

  • First and foremost, advertise based on the competencies deemed necessary for successful performance in the role (this is the content that speaks to candidates being "qualified" for the role)
  • Highlight what an ideal candidate would look like in terms of experience, past performance, education, assets, and other factors (this is what is unique to merit staffing – the content above and beyond the core competency requirements)
  • *Note: Please review Posting Timeline Requirements.

Step #3: Screening (This stage is identical to full merit screening)

  • It is recommended to use pre-screening questions based on the required competencies to provide the staffing panel with as much valuable information from candidates at the application stage. Using pre-screening questions will provide the opportunity to more quickly sort and short list large pools of candidates at the screening stage.
  • Screen based on merit, which considers both competencies and other differentiating factors/ assets
  • Compare candidates against each other to establish a short list of those who meet the screening requirements AND also bring the most relevant differentiating factors
  • *Note: Candidates can be deemed unqualified based on lack of demonstration of "bring" competencies at this stage, but they are not unqualified based on assets or differentiating factors (as these factors are not required for successful performance in the position).
  • Use the Preliminary Screening Results – Relatively Equal Form to record the competency and differentiating factor screening criteria, and overall screening decisions.

Step #4: Formal Assessment (This stage is identical to full merit assessment)

  • Develop and use assessment tools (i.e. interview guide, written assessments, technical assessments, etc.) that will assess if candidates have each of the required competencies for successful performance in the position
  • As in full merit, candidate answers are to be rated and ranked relative to one another, using a 6-point rating scale, to ensure that those who are successful are the best-qualified candidates. Differentiating factors and assets may also be considered in the ratings as long as the competencies have first been demonstrated.
  • *Note: Any candidate, in-service or out-of-service, that scores a 0 on any particular competency is not qualified for the position, as a 0 represents failure to meet the minimum competency requirement(s).
  • Use the Merit-based (Relatively Equal) Interview Guide Template to create an interview guide.
  • Use the Candidate Evaluation Summary – Relatively Equal Form  to record interim and final assessment scores for each candidate.

Step #5: Interim Scores (This stage is similar to full merit, except at the end where a "relatively equal" score may need to be calculated)

  • Add up candidate scores after formal in-person assessment is complete (i.e. prior to reference checks)
  • Identify the top score.
  • Determine if there are any qualified candidates with seniority (i.e. those that have demonstrated they have scored a 1 or above on every competency).
    • If no, move on to the next step.
    • If yes, calculate the relatively equal score.
  • Relatively Equal calculation:  .90 X Top Score = Relatively Equal score
  • Identify if any qualified candidate(s) with seniority, has a score that is the same or greater than the relatively equal score (based on the calculation).
  • *Note: the required calculation for Relatively Equal can also be found on the Candidate Evaluation Summary – Relatively Equal Form .

Step #6: Reference Checks (Similar to full merit, except for on whom reference checks may be conducted)

  • Reference checks will be based on the competency requirements for the position.
  • If the highest-scoring candidate is also the most senior, conduct references on only them.
  • If there is nobody qualified with seniority, conduct references on the top scoring candidate(s).
  • If there is at least one qualified candidate with seniority, who is not the highest-scoring, but whose score is "relatively equal" to the highest score, check references on the most senior of these.

 Step #7: Final Scores and Selection (If there are qualified candidates with seniority who have a score that is relatively equal to the top score, then this step is unique to Merit-based (relatively equal) staffing).

  • Based on the assessment information gathered during references, there is a chance that interim scores may need to be adjusted. Should reference information be gained about your candidate that would cause the need to adjust a 0-6 point value on a particular competency(ies), thus changing an interim score, then a re-calculation of the relatively equal point value would be required to determine if there is any other candidate that is now relatively equal.
  • Update scores, if required.
  • Re-calculate relatively equal point value, if required.
  • Conduct further references, if required.
  • Determine eligibility for offer based on top score, or most senior qualified relatively equal score.

Other Considerations

  • In the case of multiple vacancies, the top score always remains the top score for the purposes of conducting relatively equal calculations.
  • If no one with seniority has been screened in for assessment, it will be a full merit-based selection process through the entirety of the staffing action, and the top scoring candidate is offered the position.
  • Because screening résumés is done on a merit basis, rather than in order of seniority, the candidate pool for screening may be considerably larger. The Public Service Commission has developed tools to help managers/supervisors with screening and assessing candidates, using a merit-based process. Documenting rationale for screening and hiring decisions will be very important.
  • Assessing (particularly screening) on the basis of merit may take more effort than considering candidates in order of seniority, but if done well, can lead to stronger hires because it can include candidates with less or no seniority as well.


​Contact Information

If you have any questions or require more information please contact:

Phone: 1-877-852-5808 or 306-798-0000

Fax: 1-877-852-9219 or 306-798-9966

2100 Broad Street, Regina, SK, S4P 1Y5

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