Interview Tips: Canada
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A guide on how to apply for a job
in the federal public service
Why join the
The public service (organizations, Crown
corporations, the Canadian Forces, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) offers
a wide variety of employment opportunities, including:
- Positions are available across Canada, some
perhaps in your neighbourhood;
- Diverse fields and areas of specialization
in a wide assortment of settings, whether outdoors, in an office, in large
urban centres or in rural areas;
- Fulfilling careers and a chance to make a
difference in the lives of Canadians;
- Attractive benefits and working conditions:
paid vacations; flexible work arrangements; access to continuous learning;
on-the-job-training; and a commitment to employment equity.
find out about current job openings
- Visit the
Job Posting section to find job advertisements for available
- Consult the
Canada site and select links to individual organizations and Crown
corporations to learn about their priorities and mandate and to find any job
- Review advertisements at least once a day.
Some positions are only posted for 48 hours!
- Take advantage of the
Job Alert e-mail notification system. This free automated system sends
e-mail notifications whenever a job opening matching your predefined
criteria is posted.
- College and university graduates should
Post Secondary Recruitment (PSR) section under the Specialized
Recruitment Programs menu to find details on how to apply, exams, career
choices, and much more.
- Other recruitment programs on the Web site
Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP),
Post-secondary Co-op/Internship Program,
Recruitment of Policy Leaders (RPL) and the
Research Affiliate Program (RAP).
- Applicants can visit the Web sites of
- If you do not have access to an Internet
connection, you can phone the automated Infotel Job Line at 1-800-645-5605 -
24 hours a day. All jobs available in your calling area will be listed on
this telephone line.
It is important to review the Who Can
Apply section of each job advertisement, to ensure that you are
eligible. You may be eligible to apply based on where you reside or where
you are employed (if you are a student, you are eligible to apply based on
the location of your permanent residence or the educational institution you
- Look for the "Apply Online" link at the
bottom of each advertisement. You need to use this link to submit an
application to the public service.
- The "Apply Online" link allows you to login
to your file in the Public Service Resourcing System (PSRS). If you do not
have an account you will be directed to a page where you can create one.
Once you have entered your login information you can apply to job
opportunities that are in line with your qualifications, create an account
to match jobs currently advertised, view the status of your application, and
even view your scheduled tests or test results.
- You may only submit applications for jobs
that are currently advertised. Unsolicited applications will not be
- Do not send your application via e-mail. We
do not accept e-mail attachments.
Do not send your résumé via the
"Contact Us" button in the navigation bar.
- If you do not have Internet access in your
home or through friends, relatives or neighbours, consider alternatives such
as campus career centres, libraries, community centres, Internet cafés,
Service Canada Centres for Youth and PSC regional offices.
- On-line applications must be received by
the closing date indicated on the job advertisement.
- Applicants may also call 1-888-780-4444, or
TTY/TDD (telecommunications device for the hearing impaired and speech
impaired persons) at 1-800-465-7735, for information on the nearest public
Internet access location.
- If, after trying these options, you still
cannot access the Internet, please contact the
nearest PSC office.
Note: The public service is
committed to building a skilled, diverse workforce reflective of Canadian
society. As a result, it promotes employment equity and encourages
applicants to indicate voluntarily on their application if they are a woman,
an Aboriginal person, a person with a disability or, a member of a visible
Alternative Methods of Applying
When indicated on the advertisement,
applications in alternate formats (i.e. fax, mail) will be accepted.
Persons with disabilities preventing them from
applying on-line can always submit a hard copy application if they wish to do
so. The advertisement provides information on who to contact in this regard.
Do not forget that your résumé (see section
below) or a section of the electronic application (e.g. text, essay) must
contain information that demonstrates how you meet the requirements listed
on the job advertisement. If you fail to clearly demonstrate that you meet
the requirements, your application may be rejected.
- Your résumé is a marketing tool that
provides a snapshot of how your skills and experience could benefit the
hiring department or agency. It is vital for your résumé to make a clear
connection between the job requirements listed on the advertisement and your
previous experience. Failure to do so may result in the rejection of
- The more your résumé highlights the skills
and experience outlined in the Statement of Merit Criteria
the more effective your résumé will be. You should not hesitate to:
- review the Statement of Merit
Criteria, available with each opportunity poster, to obtain a
detailed description of the job requirements; and
- scan the poster to find information
about education, official language proficiency, experience, knowledge,
abilities/skills, personal suitability, assets, operational needs,
organizational needs, conditions of work, and professional or
For more details, see section entitled
Review the Statement of Merit Criteria.
Suggestions on Applying
If you went to school outside of Canada
- Make sure your certificates and diplomas
are evaluated against Canadian education standards. This will enable you to
provide proof of Canadian equivalency when applying for a job in the public
Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC) can assist you
in obtaining an assessment of your educational, professional, and
occupational credentials through referral to an appropriate organization.
- The CICIC does not itself grant
equivalencies or assess credentials, nor does it intervene on behalf of
individuals or in complaints. They can be contacted at:
Applicant testing and assessment
Information on the most commonly used tests,
General Administration Test (GAT), the
General Competency Test (GCT), and the
Office Skills Test (OST), is available on the PSC Web site
Tests are often used in combination with other
methods of assessment. Some methods assess your skills while others evaluate
your behaviour in different situation:
- Skill tests: your specific
skills, such as typing or welding are assessed
- Written tests or exercises:
your knowledge and/or abilities are assessed
- Interviews: you could be
interviewed by one person and/or a panel
- Situational questions: how
would you handle a given situation?
- Behaviour-based questions:
how did you behave under particular circumstances?
- Simulation: a real work
situation is replicated
- Presentations: you are
asked to make a job-related presentation
- Role playing: you are
asked to play a particular role, such as a supervisor, to show how you
interact with others
- Work samples: you have the
opportunity to show examples of your past work
- Review of performance evaluations:
your past performance evaluations could be looked at
- Reference checks: your
references may be contacted to confirm your background
The interview is a key event in any job search
process. To increase your chances of having a positive interview, you should be
aware that job interview in the public service usually follows a pre-determined
You will be interviewed by an assessment
board, often consisting of two or three people. The board is likely to
include a hiring manager (from the department or agency), an expert in the field
for which you are applying and a human resources representative (most likely
from the department or agency.)
The assessment process may involve more than one
interview. Once the interview or interviews are finished, the interviewers (the
"assessment board") meet to make their hiring decision.
Note: The public service is
committed to developing inclusive, barrier-free selection processes and work
environments. If contacted regarding an appointment process, please advise
the departmental official of the accommodation measures which must be taken
to enable you to be assessed in a fair and equitable manner. Complete
details concerning accommodations are provided in the policy on
Duty to Accommodate Persons with Disabilities.
to Get Ready for the Job Interview
out about the organization
Consider the following questions when
conducting your research.
- Go directly to the organization Web site or
Canada site and consult the Departments and Agencies section to find a
direct link to that
organization's site. You should find out about the organization's:
- Mission Statement
- Programs and services
- Get information from official publications
(annual reports, program brochures and promotional material). Most of these
documents are readily available in the reception areas of federal
organizations, or from your local public library.
- What is the history of the organization?
- What is the product or service offered by
- How many people does the organization
- What challenges or issues is the department
or agency currently facing?
- What new technologies does the organization
- How does the department or agency relate to
the federal government in general?
- What are the major activities of the
- Is the organization often in the news? If
yes, why? Is the coverage positive or negative?
- What are the future plans of the
- show your prospective employer that you
have initiative, are truly interested in the work the organization does,
and understand the services it provides; and
- help you decide what questions to ask
the assessment board.
Review the Statement of Merit Criteria (position requirements)
The Statement of Merit Criteria
provides a detailed description of the job requirements of the position and
enables you to anticipate some of the questions you may be asked. This document
is usually available as a link on the job advertisement itself, or upon request
from the department or agency. Reviewing it may enable you to anticipate some of
the questions you may be asked during the interview and to prepare your answers
Think about questions you may be asked at the
Related to past work experience
Assessing your skills
- Briefly summarize your work experience to
- Explain more fully your responsibilities
with your previous employer.
- What has been your major accomplishment?
- What are you most proud of? (may be
professional or personal)
- What is important to you in your work?
- What have you enjoyed the most? Least?
- Describe a problem situation in your past
work experience and explain how you resolved it.
Your managerial strengths
- What are your major strengths?
- What are your major weaknesses? Your
- Why do you feel qualified for this job?
Your self-evaluation and motivation
- Describe your management style.
- As a manager, what would you look for when
- What do you see as the most difficult task
in being a manager?
- Why do you feel you have good potential to
be a manager?
- How would you describe yourself?
- What is it about our organization that
- Why do you think we should hire you?
- Why are you seeking a change at this time?
Think about questions you may want to ask at
At the end of the interview, most assessment
boards allow enough time for applicants to ask their own questions. This is
another opportunity for you to make a good impression. Remember to:
- Prepare these questions ahead of time. This
will show board members that you have prepared for the interview.
- Tailor your questions to the organizations
with which you are having the interview. Do some research on their Web site
or in your local paper's archives (see
Find out about the department or agency).
- Here are possible questions you may
consider asking the assessment board:
- When will you make a hiring decision?
- What do you see as the priorities for
someone in this position?
- Could you describe a typical "day on
- What training programs are available to
- What level of responsibility could I
expect in this position?
- What qualities do you look for in new
- Is there a typical career path for a
person in this position?
- How are employees evaluated and
- What are your organizations plans for
What to bring with you
Bring additional copies of your résumé, a list
of references, as well as samples of your recent work (if applicable). Make sure
that you contact all of your references ahead of time, in order to get their
permission and to let them know about the position for which you are applying.
Be on time
Arrive on time for the interview. It is always a
good idea to obtain a telephone number to contact the interviewer(s) or the
departmental human resources officer before the interview, in case you are late.
During the interview
The main purpose of the interview is to enable
the interviewers to assess your qualifications against the merit and asset
criteria. You can expect that:
- The assessment board will
ask you a series of questions, established in advance, to gauge your merit
vis-ŕ-vis knowledge, abilities/ skills, and personal suitability for the
job. Your answers will be given a rating (as will those of other
applicants). Once all references have been checked, the person who is the
right fit will be offered the job. The interview normally follows the same
structure for each person interviewed, to ensure that everyone is treated
fairly and equitably. Obviously, the specific questions asked at interviews
differ according to the job being filled. However, here are some general
tips on answering interview questions:
- Organize your thoughts, either mentally
or on a piece of paper, to make sure that you cover all the important
- If you do not understand a question,
ask the interviewers to repeat, clarify or rephrase it.
- Mention all relevant information on the
- If you definitely do not know the
answer to a question, say so.
- Be brief and to the point.
- Answer carefully and honestly.
- Avoid being critical of past jobs and
- Make sure that your knowledge, abilities
and personal qualities are clearly communicated to the interviewers. If you
feel that one of your strong points has not come across, point it out - but
in a factual way. Watch for an opening, and tell the interviewers about your
supervisory experience, your extracurricular activities, or whatever you
want them to know. You could also bring a sample of any outstanding work you
have produced, and present it to the interviewers if they are interested in
Ending the interview
It is important to leave the interviewers with a
positive impression of you, no matter how well you feel the interview has gone.
Here are some pointers:
- Remain confident and determined to the end.
Each question the interviewers ask is important, including the last one.
- Ensure that you are aware of all conditions
of employment that apply to the job (travelling, medical exam, security
check, etc.). You may want to discuss these conditions with the interviewers
at the end of the interview.
- Ask when you will be notified of their
decision. If the answer is unclear, offer to call them yourself.
- Watch for signs that the interview is
coming to a close, and thank the interviewers for their time and
consideration. Do not overstay your welcome.
- Address the interviewers by name, if you
are sure of their names.
After the interview
Whether or not you are successful in being
chosen for the job, you can make the interview a positive learning experience.
- Contact the human resources officer for
feedback on how you did at the interview. Ask for specific comments on your
performance - both your strong points and what you need to improve.
- Analyse information regarding deficiencies
in your merit or asset criteria, if any, and determine how you can best
"fill in the gap". Note: under the new Act, asset criteria can determine who
wins a competition. These criteria are not mandatory, but play a large role
in the event of a close call or tie between two or more applicants.
If you are not successful, do not be
discouraged. Most importantly, do not take it personally! Your
preparation before each interview, your practice during the interview, and the
feedback you receive after each interview can only improve your future
Each interview is a learning experience.
of Things to Remember
- Your résumé should be brief. It should
focus on relevant requirements such as your experience.
- Make sure that you provide all relevant
information requested in the job advertisement such as: the advertisement
reference number; your citizenship; your language proficiency; and (if
applicable) whether you are a member of a
designated employment equity group.
- It is your responsibility to inform the
Public Service Commission or the department official in a timely fashion of
any accommodation you require to enable you to be assessed in a fair and
equitable manner. Information received relating to accommodations measures
will be treated confidentially.
- If you attended a school outside of Canada,
you must include proof of Canadian equivalency for your degree, diplomas
and/or certificates. For more information on obtaining equivalencies, visit
Information Centre for International Credentials Web site.
( Courtesy: Jobs-gc-ca