Frequently Asked Questions

How to apply

How do I apply for a policy officer position?

Applications are accepted during an advertised process, typically on an annual basis for a one-two week period. 

Once the advertised process has opened, you need to submit your candidacy electronically through the Public Service Commission website at the following address: www.jobs.gc.ca

When can I apply?

The PORP is accepting new applications until 17 December 2017. You need to submit your candidacy electronically through the Public Service Commission website at the following address: https://emploisfp-psjobs.cfp-psc.gc.ca/psrs-srfp/applicant/page1800?poster=1102060&toggleLanguage=en

What are the changes to the PORP?

We have recently revised and refreshed the programme. It is now a three-year programme, as opposed to the previous five-year programme.

We are still a rotational programme, but slightly more intensified with only three rotations and more core training.  The programme also now has a non-competitive graduation process.

Q&As • About the selected applicants

What will my status be as a civilian employee at the Department of National Defence?

Members of the Policy Officer Recruitment Programme hold an indeterminate employment status, which means that they are considered full-time employees of the Federal Public Service at the Department of National Defence.

However, participants are on probationary status for the first 12 months of their participation in the programme, in accordance with the Public Service regulations establishing periods of probation.

Participants appointed from within the Public Service who have already served a probationary period, will not be subject to another probationary period. However, if a participant enters the program and has not finished serving his/her probationary period, the remainder of the probationary period will apply.

As a member of Policy Officer Recruitment Programme, is it possible to submit an application for a position in another department within the Public Service?

Yes. As a permanent employee at the Department of National Defence, members of the Policy Officer Recruitment Programme may submit applications for internal processes within the Federal Public Service.

Will I receive benefits such as group insurance and a pension fund?

Yes. Members of the Policy Officer Recruitment Programme receive the same benefits as other civilian employees at the Department of National Defence. For more information, please consult the Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada website.

How many weeks of vacation per year will I receive as a member of the Policy Officer Recruitment Programme?

Employees of the Department of National Defence receive, during the first 8 years of employment, 15 vacation days, 11 public holidays and 15 sick days per year, in addition to other types of leave.

How many applicants are selected each year?

The number of selected applicants varies from year to year, and is dependent on the requirements of the Policy Group.

My application was successful; when will my appointment begin?

It is anticipated that appointments for the 2017 advertised process will begin in September 2018, but could start earlier, in certain circumstances, for candidates already in possession of a Master’s degree.

My family and my friends do not live in Ottawa. Is it possible to request a position in Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver?

No.

Will the Department of National Defence assist me with the costs of relocating to Ottawa?

Yes. The Department of National Defence can reimburse, under certain circumstances, some of the costs associated with the relocation of new Policy Officers, to a maximum of $5,000. For more information, please consult the website of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

Is it possible to request a specific position within the Department of National Defence?

No. Assignments for PORPs are selected for them as part of their development training. The combination of the assignments throughout this program are selected to provide participants the required experience and competencies required of EC-05 defence policy officers.

Can I be posted abroad as part of the PORP?

There may also be opportunities to travel both domestically and internationally as part of regular or special working assignments.

Q&As • About the selection criteria for applicants

I am a permanent resident; can I apply?

Only Canadian citizens can apply.

I see on the Statement of Merit Criteria that language requirements are either bilingual imperative and bilingual non-imperative. What does that mean and can I apply if I am not bilingual?

Yes you can apply if you are not bilingual. Applicants must be proficient in English or French. However, positions within the Policy Officer Recruitment Programme are bilingual and it is required that candidates hired become bilingual as part of the program. In order to reach that goal, language training is available to unilingual candidates who join the program.

I have a Bachelor’s degree, but also have either pertinent work experience or have published several academic articles. Can I apply?

No. All applicants are required to possess a minimum of a Master’s degree.

How are applicants selected?

Applicants must hold a Master’s degree in history, political science, international affairs, public administration, law, sociology, economics or other security and defence related disciplines, and are selected according to their results on the take-home knowledge exam, the interview, and the written skills test.

I have a Master’s degree, but my specialization is not in economics, sociology or statistics. Can I still apply?

Yes. The main education requirement is that you hold a Master’s degree in history, political science, international affairs, public administration, law, sociology, economics or other security and defence related disciplines. Specialization can come through a combination of education, training and/or experience.

For example, graduates in political science, history, international relations, etc. can usually demonstrate acceptable specialization in these fields through their studies or previous professional experience.

I am finishing my Master’s programme and have limited work experience outside of my research work. Can I apply?

Yes. Please note, however, that all graduate coursework of successful candidates must be completed before appointment and proof of all completed academic requirements must be provided by 30 June 2018.

What abilities must I possess to be selected?

The ability to research, analyze and synthesize defence and security policy issues; to communicate effectively orally and in writing; and to work effectively under pressure and meet tight deadlines. You must also be able to form a professional network and work effectively in teams.

What personal qualities must I possess in order to be selected?

You must demonstrate a commitment to excellence and to the Values and Ethics of the Public Service. You must also demonstrate judgment, initiative, leadership, and adaptability.

Q&As • About the advertised process

After I have submitted my application, what are the next steps in the advertised process?

If your initial application is successful after the initial stages of the process, you will receive, via email, a take-home exam that you will have to complete and submit in due time to proceed to the next stage of the process.

The applicants with the highest results on the take-home exam will be invited to an interview.

What specific knowledge should I possess to be successful on the take-home exam?

You should have in-depth knowledge of Canada’s defence policy, as well as current events that relate to defence and security.  Additionally, you should possess strong skills in researching information.

How much time should I allocate for the take-home exam?

The take-home exam generally takes 20 to 40 hours to complete. Candidates generally have a few weeks to work on the exam.

What kind of questions should I expect on the take-home exam?

The exam consists of a series of questions which you must typically answer in 1,000 words or less. Please see below for a sample exam question.

Sample Knowledge Exam Question

While representing the Policy Group at a roundtable discussion on US defence policy, a representative from a think-tank asserts that, “in the past decades, Canada has never taken the defence of North America – in partnership with the United States – seriously.”

As a policy officer in the Department of National Defence, how would you respond to this statement? Your answer should be 1,000 words or less.

I participated in the interview stage in a previous PORP competition. Do I need to re-write the take-home exam when re-applying?

Yes.

When will the interview take place?

The applicants with the highest results on the take-home exam will be invited to an interview. As this process depends on the number of applicants and the time required to assess the candidates, an exact timeframe for the interview process is not yet determined. Applicants invited to an interview will be notified in writing.

Will I have to pay for travel to Ottawa if I am invited to an interview?

The Department of National Defence reimburses travel costs (transportation, accommodations and meals) for those living in Canada, outside of the National Capital Region. Arrangements will be made for candidates living abroad to conduct their interview by video or teleconference.

What type of interview should I prepare for?

The interview, which lasts approximately one hour, is behavioural and contains no knowledge-based questions. In addition to evaluating personal abilities (such as judgment, flexibility, capacity to work under tight deadlines, etc.), the interview is also used to assess your oral communication skills. For more guidance, please refer to the Statement of Merit Criteria.

Are there any other evaluation exercises on the interview day?

Yes, a written skills test is administered to candidates on the day of the interview. This test assesses the writing skills of the applicants (grammar and syntax) and does not contain any knowledge questions. Applicants will be given two hours to write a 500 words report on a subject related to security and defence.

Why am I required to complete security forms?

Upon receiving a policy officer position at the Department of National Defence, applicants are required to obtain a Secret security clearance. The process is lengthy and must be started as soon as successful applicants sign their letter of offer. Moreover, successful applicants must pass an enhanced reliability clearance prior to beginning work at National Defence.

How are successful applicants selected for the policy officer position?

Applicants achieving the highest results in the process and meeting personal suitability requirements will receive an offer of employment.

When will I be notified if I have been selected for a position in the Policy Officer Recruitment Programme?

All applicants who were invited for an interview will generally be contacted several weeks after the interview, and be informed on whether or not they were successful in the process.

What are the changes to the PORP?

We have recently revised and refreshed the programme. It is now a three-year programme, as opposed to the previous five-year programme.

We are still a rotational programme, but slightly more intensified with only three rotations and more core training.  The programme also now has a non-competitive graduation process.

Date modified: