Step 5: Conduct desk audit

State HR - Comp & Class

Contact information

Jefferson Building
1500 Jefferson Street SE, PO Box 47500
Olympia, WA 98501

From your review of the Position Description (PD), you likely identified areas that are unclear.  To allocate the position properly, the most effective way to get additional information is through a desk audit.

What is a desk audit?

It’s an interview with the incumbent to obtain information about his/her duties and responsibilities.  You should conduct a separate interview with the employee and the supervisor. 

Benefits of a desk audit:

  • Verify and clarify information in the PD and other documentation.
  • Get examples of work performed.
  • Provide a personal way to connect with employees and demonstrate understanding of the employee’s work.

Prepare for the audit

The extent of your questions will differ based on how well the PD is written and the classifications involved.  The following questions and considerations will help you prepare for the audit:       

  • Is the PD signed by the supervisor, the appointing authority, and the employee?  Is there agreement with the duties cited?
  • What are the relevant classes and key differences?  Consider questions which focus on distinctions between classes in relationship to the employee’s duties.
  • Does the PD cut-and-paste from the class specification?
  • What duties are questionable and why?  You likely will need to clarify specific tasks the employee performs and how the work is performed.
  • Does the PD “double count” duties?  There may be numerous and unrelated duties listed under a large percentage of time.  Get clarification for a better understanding of the key responsibilities and time spent.
  • Is there confusing jargon, terminology, or acronyms in the PD?
  • In addition to the above, see thes sample questions:

Conduct the audit

Conduct the audit in a manner that will help you obtain the best information to make your allocation decision. Additional pointers:

  • If the employee requests someone to be present (a supervisor, union representative, another employee, etc.) you may allow this.  However you are auditing the employee; others may observe, but the employee is the one who knows his/her duties.
  • Ask for examples; verbal explanations and physical examples may be helpful.
  • Ask simple, clear questions.  In most cases you will want to ask more than a “yes/no” question. 
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Probe important points until you have a clear understanding of the job.
  • Take good notes as a few days may lapse before you write your decision.
  • At the end of the audit, allow the employee to add information or ask questions.
  • Let the employee know you will be in contact if you have other questions or need to clarify any of the discussion. 

Things to avoid

  • Avoid making statements such as, "Is that all you do?"  While you may feel you are clarifying, the employee may view this as a judgment of his/her importance. 
  • Don’t cast doubt on what the employee has said.
  • Don’t apologize for needing clarification.
  • Don’t do most of the talking.
  • Don’t let the employee take the audit off track with unrelated information. 

Additional tips and considerations

  • Refer to any internal policies and/or procedures for guidance.
  • For represented employees, the Classification article in the applicable CBA should be consulted.
  • Do not make any statements regarding the allocation during the audit. If asked, state you won't be making a determination until you have had a chance to review all the information.

Position allocation guidance steps 

  1. Ensure current and accurate position description
  2. Determine relevant class specifications
  3. Understand allocating criteria
  4. Understand duties in position description
  5. [Current page] Conduct desk audit
  6. Determine appropriate allocation
  7. [Current page] Write your decision


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