STEP 4: QEP
The Qualifications Evaluation Panel
The QEP, the name given to a panel of three Senior Foreign Service examiners, will review the work and education portions of the application form, their personal narratives and the FSOT/essay results to select those candidates who will be invited to the Oral Assessment.
- The test administrator will forward your FSOT scores, along with your Registration Package minus any proscribed data (age, ethnicity, etc.) to the QEP.
- The QEP uses a Total Candidate approach to review your:
1. educational and work background;
2. responses to the Personal Narrative questions;
3. self-evaluated and Foreign Service Institute-tested language scores; and
4. FSOT scores.
- There is no pre-set cut-off score. The QEP evaluates your file within your chosen career track, looking at how well you demonstrate the precepts outlined above.
- The best qualified candidates are invited to oral assessments based on the QEP evaluations and State’s anticipated hiring needs in each career track.
Although the QEP is a total file review, with no one element dominating all the factors considered, you have the most control over your responses to the PN. Your responses can be influential in determining your standing in your chosen career track. This is your chance to tell your story to the Foreign Service assessors. Bear in mind that your responses are subject to verification by the Board of Examiners.
Once the QEP is completed, ACT will inform you of the results via an online letter that you can access using the personal login ID and password you chose when registering. The process typically takes 12 weeks.
The Mystery of the QEP
Before the new system was implemented in 2007, every candidate who passed the written test was invited to the Oral Assessment. No longer. The Yahoo e-mail groups devoted to the written exam and the orals swirl with commentary and concern about the QEP. More than a dozen candidates who offered input to the Foreign Service Journal in June 2008 highlighted concerns about the panel. These concerns focus not so much on whether the QEP is a valid screening process (no one seems sure yet), but on what candidates see as a lack of transparency. Many candidates call the process a “mystery.”
The problem is that those who get turned down by the QEP are not told why. This is in contrast to the availability of score breakdowns for the written test, which some candidates try to use to determine what areas to strengthen.
“Many [September test-takers] scored amazingly high on the exam but failed the QEP,” says candidate Chrysta Stotts. “What’s more frustrating is that no explanation was given as to why they were not invited on to orals. Had this been under the old paradigm, they would have been invited without question.” Worse, for some candidates who did not pass the QEP, references had already been contacted, leading them to assume they would be going on to the next phase of the process.
HR officials contend that there is no great mystery to the QEP, explaining that the panels operate under strict guidelines and procedures based on specific criteria, and go through extensive training. Sometimes called the Screening Panel, the QEP is composed of three Foreign Service officers serving on the Board of Examiners. These are the same people who conduct the Oral Assessments. Candidate files are divided up by career tracks, and each panel reviews candidates from a particular track.