Recruiting and Selecting Management Training Program Candidates

February 1, 1998
Following are portions of a handbook on the "Future Managers Program" (FMP) at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) of New York. This portion describes the recruitment and selection process of candidates for the program. The FMP has prompted Workforce to give the MTA this year’s Workforce Magazine Optimas Award in the Partnership category.

Recruitment and Selection Process for the Future Managers Program
The selection process consists of five phases that take six to nine months to complete. All phases of the program are managed by the MTA’s executive and organizational development department. All candidates must be currently employed full time by either the MTA or one of its operating agencies. In order to qualify for the program, all candidates must have:

  • An associate’s degree (bachelor’s degree is preferred)
  • Three years or more of full-time work experience (two or more at the supervisory level is a plus)
  • A record of achievement in the workplace.

The operating agencies determine the operating department (and/or specific position) the FMP participant will specialize in before recruitment. Usually, the participating department targets a position that the participant will be developed for. The operating agency may have additional qualification requirements, depending on the nature of the position. If so, these will be included in a job posting.

How To Apply
Internal candidates who meet the minimum qualifications should mail a resume to the address shown on the FMP poster and the job posting. The cover letter or resume must include the applicant’s name, address and daytime phone number. This information is crucial since the MTA will only respond to applicants by mail to inform them of their status. Because the selection process is lengthy and the applicants are many, it will take a few weeks before replies are mailed. No reply will be mailed prior to the application deadline date.

Selection Process
Phase 1: Recruitment Once the targeted departments/positions are identified, the MTA launches a recruitment campaign. The MTA advertises the program through written communications, distributed and posted throughout the agencies.

FMP Poster—A poster is distributed to the operating agencies stating the program requirements, application deadline, and instructions for applying. The posters are placed in visible areas throughout the agencies and at headquarters.

Job Posting—Along with the FMP poster is an agency-specific job posting describing the position for that agency. The style of the job posting for each of the operating agencies is similar; however, the content may differ slightly if the targeted department requires additional educational or technical skills from the potential participant. The application period for the FMP is one month.

Phase 2: Resume Review—The MTA reviews all resumes received by the deadline. Those individuals who meet the minimum qualifications receive a formal employment application, which must be completed and returned to the MTA. This application provides standard information that may have been omitted in the resume.

Agency Resume Review—Each operating agency selects several individuals to form a resume review committee to review the application and the resume of each qualified candidate. The MTA encourages a diversity in these groups. Usually they will be made up of the agency liaison, representatives from the operating department, and representatives from the EEO and Human Resources divisions. This committee will choose approximately 30 candidates to attend the next phase of the program, the Open House. Note: when a candidate applies to the FMP, he/she is applying to the program, not just to one agency.

Phase 3: Open House This phase consists of a one-on-one interview of about 30 minutes with each of the candidates. After the interview, the candidates are invited to a general session to hear more about the FMP and its requirements. The MTA coordinates the scheduling for the Open House and provides all the necessary materials and a location for the interview. IT is possible for a candidate to be invited to more than one Open House interview since each agency review team looks at all the resumes. Upon completion of this phase, the operating agency will complete reference checks and choose candidates who most closely fit the targeted department/position.

Phase 4: Assessment Center Following the Open House phase, each agency selects up to 12 candidates to attend their assessment center. This phase provides a fair and ethical approach to the final selection of candidates.

The assessment process is designed to measure the extent to which the candidates demonstrate certain managerial abilities and to provide objective data about the candidate. During the one day that candidates spend at the FMP Assessment Center, they participate in group and individual exercises, including paper and pencil tests, simulations, role playing and group discussions.

Each agency will assign personnel to act as assessors (one for every two candidates). The assessor pool is usually made up of the Agency Liaison, representatives from human resources/recruitment and training, FMP graduates and operating department designers who must commit four full days to the process. All assessors are given intensive training at the MTA to become familiar with the exercises in the Assessment Center.

The task of observing behavior and evaluating strengths and development needs of the candidate is a difficult one. The process is very objective since each candidate is evaluated by a different assessor during each of the various exercises. Based on the information gathered on each candidate (including reference checks, the initial interview, and the assessment center data), the assessor team makes written recommendations as to which candidates to send to the final phase, the Executive Interview.

Phase 5: Executive Interview An Agency Executive Committee meets to interview the candidates who were recommended. This executive-level interview may be a panel or individual interview, depending on the agency. The interview date, time and place are arranged with the candidates by the Agency Liaison. The final decision is made by the Agency Executive Committee and the results of each interview are communicated to the MTA. The operating agency notifies the candidate of acceptance and makes the actual job offer. Once an offer has been made and accepted, the MTA notifies the remaining candidates of their status.

SOURCE: Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Department of Organizational Development and Training, New York, New York. All rights reserved.