Frequently Asked Questions about the Policy Officer Recruitment Programme

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, in accordance with section 61 of the Public Service Employment Act, employees appointed from outside the public service into a Professional Development or Apprenticeship Program are subject to a probationary period for the duration of the Program or twelve months, whichever is longer, excluding any periods of leave without pay, full-time language training or leave with pay in excess of thirty consecutive days and any off-duty periods in the case of seasonal employees. Your probationary period will continue with any subsequent appointments or deployments until the complete probationary period has been served.

    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.

  • My application was successful; when will my appointment begin?

    It is anticipated that appointments for the 2020-2021 advertised process will begin in September 2021, 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?


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

    No. Policy Officers are assigned to various positions as part of their development training. The combination of the assignments throughout this program are selected to provide participants the experience and competencies required of EC-05 defence policy officers.

About the selection criteria for applicants

  • I see on the Statement of Merit Criteria that language requirements are either bilingual imperative or 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 hired candidates become bilingual as part of the program. Language training is made available to unilingual candidates who join the program, in order to reach that goal.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • I am finishing my Master’s program 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 2021.

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 is based on a task that could be accomplished within three (3) to six (6) hours. Candidates have five (5) days to work on the exam.

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

    The exam simulates a task policy officers perform on a regular basis. It is designed to assess candidates’ ability to conduct research, analyze and synthesize information, and to communicate effectively in writing. It also aims to evaluate your knowledge of Canadian defence policy, domestic and international defence and security issues, and of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces’ mandate and priorities.

    Please see below for a sample exam question:

    Sample Knowledge Exam Question

    One of Canada’s allies has recently updated its defence policy. Your deputy-director asks you to read the document and to analyze how it relates to Canada’s own defence policy and key priorities, and to prepare a high-level 2-page briefing note including key considerations for National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.

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


  • 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 via email.

  • How will the interview take place?

    All interviews will be conducted via an online virtual platform. Applicants invited to an interview will receive further details as needed.

  • 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?


  • 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.

  • 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.

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