Oral Exam Timeline

In this post we will interview Becky who has been working for the Canadian Government for almost a decade. In this interview, we will discuss her educational background, what motivated her get a job in the Canadian federal government, obtain an overview of her first job competition, and finally her perception of her job as a public servant.


IG: Becky, thanks for interviewing with us. Many of our readers inquire on how to get a job in the Government of Canada through the Post Secondary Recruitment Campaign.

Becky: Sure. I would love to discuss how I got my job in the Government of Canada through the Post Secondary Recruitment (PSR) Campaign.


IG: Before we ask for specifics, which department do you work for and what is your classification level?

Becky: I presently work for the Public Health Agency of Canada, I am an EC05


IG: What is your educational background?

Becky: I have a Bachelors in Management and a Master’s degree in Political Science. I am fluent in four languages (English, French, German and Italian) and I have international experience studying and working abroad.


IG: What motivated you to join the Canadian federal government?

Becky: I always wanted to work in a Government setting or with or an international Organization such as the UN, so when the PSR campaign opened I decided to try my luck.


IG:  What was your external job process like? Of course, we are aware that there are restrictions on this, but an overall summary would be useful.

Becky: Sure. I applied through the PSR campaign, in fact, it was the last application that I made on the closing day (I had applied to at least six other job competitions). The application requested my grades, my resume, a cover letter, and required that I answered a questionnaire. I wasn’t certain about my chances to actually proceed to the next step in that particular job process, but I figured that I had nothing to lose (little did I know then, that the same process would have led me to an indeterminate position).

The Post Secondary Recruitment Campaign ended that year in mid-September. Shortly after, I wrote the then dreaded Graduate Recruitment Test, the Situational Judgement Test, and the Written Communication Test (WCT) note that I did not write the Written Communication Proficiency Test. In the WCT, one actually has to read and physically write a summary text. It was very stressful as I knew that my future depended on it. I did all three exams on the same day. About a month later from the date that I submitted my original application I received an email inviting me for an interview in my home city.

The interview that day, tested my ability to express myself both orally and in writing. I’m a strong writer and I enjoy talking with people, so upon leaving the interview I knew that I did really well or I failed. After those exams, there was silence for two months.

I was enjoying my Christmas holidays, when I decided to check my email (back then data was not on most cellphones, so I had to go on my PC). I saw a strange looking subject title (which I have now come to learn is typical in these type of processes) in my inbox. Upon opening it, I realized that it was an email inviting me to Ottawa for further interviews in two weeks. Needless to say I accepted.

I was very busy at that time, but I did buy two new suits as I would be in Ottawa for approximately days. After the Christmas festivities, I hit the books! Before placing afoot in Ottawa, I knew everything about the department and recent developments in the department. I refreshed my interview skills, practiced my STAR answers for two situational based questions and felt confident going to Ottawa.

On the first day, I reached Ottawa in the afternoon, in the evening there was a meet and greet. There were several students at the event. Some attended in full suits while others came in more casual wear and stayed closer to the buffet table. I made a group of acquaintances, but it was very clear that everyone was focused on the final goal – an indeterminate position in Ottawa.  We stayed in Ottawa for another day and a half, exchanged email addresses and said our goodbyes at the end of the process.

I would like to highlight that often times people will listen to what they hear in these processes or on forums and take it as law. Be careful. While many people are helpful, there are others who have the main objective of eliminating their competition.

My interviews went extremely well. I was contacted three days after the interview with a job offer. I was fortunate to get the exact position that I wanted. I decided to start two weeks after the call.


IG: What were your odds of getting a position? What were the profiles of some of the people you met?

Becky: I was told that at the department had received a little over 10 000 applications; however, they were hiring for 100 positions.

The individuals in the final stage came from different educational backgrounds and from across Canada. Some were bilingual others weren’t.


IG: Was there anything that struck you as interesting during the interview process?

Becky: Yes. I actually met two bilingual lawyers, and both did not end up with a position. We all thought that based on their education and work experience that they would be picked first.

Also, there was a clear distinction with people who prepared and those who didn’t. Many people who obtained positions purchased study kits, others even took consulting lessons. I was surprised to see people with the “I’ll play it by air” attitude, especially so late in the process; however, I don’t think many (if any) received a permanent position.


IG: What do you think about the Insider’s Guide to Getting a Job in the Canadian Government e-book?

Becky: It’s really a great resource. The price is very affordable and the information in there is priceless. It’s a shame the e-book wasn’t available when I was going to the process.  I followed many of those steps when looking for a job (the e-book provides even more details than what I did). A job seeker should look at the book as an investment in their career. If the book provides you with your dream job, it will be paid off in the first two to three hours of your first day in the office.  Personally, I invested in a few resources that were paid off by the salary I made on my first two days of work. I don’t regret spending any of those dollars!


IG: How do you perceive your position as a public servant?

Becky: The Government of Canada is really a great employer; however, it is important that one finds the job that compliments their skill set and personality. There are several people who are passionate about their work and subject matter. I’ve also come across many people who are not satisfied in their jobs; however, unlike the private sector, there are so many options in the public sector that no one needs to feel “stuck” in one particular position.

Of course, now that I am getting older, I am grateful for other benefits such as a large variety of work opportunities, a defined pension plan, and the ability to really make a difference in the life of Canadians.


IG: Is there anything else that you want to mention for our readers?

Becky: Yes, there is a perception that almost everyone in the public sector received their position through a connection and that is not true. Although in all companies there are always a few who fall through the cracks, most of my colleagues and myself obtained our positions through external processes, or being bridged in after a co-op placement.

Also, I would like to tell them do not give up. If your dream job is to get a job in the Government of Canada, do not stop trying, your efforts will eventually pay off.

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