ARCHIVED - New Structured Interviewing and Structured Reference Checking Guides (09-06)


The Public Service Commission has moved since this document was first published and therefore the address and telephone numbers indicated may no longer be accurate. Please consult the Contact Us page for up-to-date contact information.


Contact person: Philippe Proulx, Assessment Oversight, 613-943-2941

The Public Service Commission (PSC) is committed to providing hiring managers and the human resources community with support and guidance regarding the appointment process. To this end, the PSC is providing the following:

  • Structured Interviewing Guide: How to Design and Conduct Structured Interviews in an Appointment Process; and
  • Structured Reference Checking: A User’s Guide to Best Practices.

Structured interviews and structured reference checks are two of the most widely used and influential assessment instruments in appointment processes. When conducted properly and in accordance with established professional standards, they represent a significant source of information upon which to base fair, accurate and meritorious hiring decisions. The guides provide direction on enhancing the quality of the information gathered from these two instruments, while strengthening the fairness and rigour of the assessment process.

The content of the guides is based on a review of academic and professional literature, best practices research from the private and public sectors and consultations with subject-matter experts in the field of personnel assessment. A summary of the two guides is included below.

This guide is designed for hiring managers and human resources practitioners who wish to use a structured interview in an appointment process. They will find practical guidance for each stage of the interview process, including designing and administering interview questions, as well as information about the advantages of structured interviews, the risks of unstructured interviews and relevant legal issues. In addition, the guide offers supporting resources, such as sample booklets for interview assessment and note-taking, a presentation for training interview board members, a structured interview checklist and a feedback questionnaire to assess applicants’ reactions to the interview. It also includes an abbreviated guide for interview board members.

Structured reference checking is a valuable source of information to predict the future performance of applicants based on past work behaviours. This guide describes an approach to structured reference checking that is designed to yield optimal results for the hiring organization. This includes practical guidance on the reference-checking process, from planning and conducting a reference check interview to evaluation, informal discussion and feedback to applicants. A number of supporting tools are also provided, such as a sample structured reference-checking form, helpful tips for the reference checker and sample instructions for applicants and referees.

For more information, you may contact Philippe Proulx at 613-943-2941 or by e-mail at, or contact the PSC staffing consultant responsible for your organization.

Donald Lemaire
Senior Vice-President
Policy Branch

c.c.: Chiefs of Staffing

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