Conducting interviews

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

The following steps should be followed when conducting interviews:

Step 1 Read the file in advance

  • Stay focused on why an interview is required and what is needed to make a decision
  • Gather any tools that need to be consulted in order to make a decision.

Step 2 Establish rapport

  • Greet the applicant
  • Put the client at ease: help them through the logistics e.g.
    • do they follow you?
    • where do they sit?
    • do they have special needs?

Step 3 Explain the purpose and format of the interview

  • Explain the officer’s role and authority
  • Explain how the interview will be conducted
  • If using an interpreter, ensure that the applicant and interpreter understand each other
  • Ensure that the applicant understands the officer and the process.

Step 4 Elicit information

  • Try to put the applicant at ease: most people will be more forthcoming if they feel relaxed
  • Keep vocabulary simple and sentence structure uncluttered
  • Avoid jargon, rephrase questions if it appears that the applicant has not understood a question
  • Maintain the dignity of the applicant
  • What to ask:
    • ask only what cannot be determined from the file
    • use the application form as a guide
    • be alert for inconsistencies, gaps and evasiveness. Personal questions are acceptable as long as the officer is respectful.

Step 5 Verify the client's information

  • Probe by asking closed questions about details that the client should be able to provide
  • Use closed questions in a cross-examination style
  • Observe the client's demeanor as they answer
  • Remain neutral and objective
  • Maintain rapport during this phase of the interview.

Step 6 Give the applicant the opportunity to refute/explain

  • Remember the principles of procedural fairness
  • Give the applicant reasonable opportunity to:
    • respond to the decision
    • clarify facts
    • provide new information or
    • question the officer's interpretation of the facts
  • Don't be reluctant to change a decision if the applicant presents new, relevant information
  • Explain any conditions of acceptance
  • Explain the reasons for a refusal
  • Explain the requirements and why the applicant does not meet them.

Step 7 Explain what happens next

  • If something is required of the applicant, write this down for them
  • Ask only for additional information/documentation if it is necessary in order to make a decision
  • Inform the client what will be done next
  • As applicable, inform the applicant that they will also receive a written explanation
  • Inform the applicant if humanitarian and compassionate consideration, rehabilitation, etc., will be sought
  • Make clear who has the authority to make the decision.

Step 8 Answer any questions

  • Give the client an opportunity to clarify what was said and make sure they understand
  • Give counseling: refer the applicant to authoritative sources
  • Avoid giving information you are not certain of.
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