Second language interviews for levels B and C (COVID-19)

Test description

The Second language interviews for levels B and C were developed by the Public Service Commission as a temporary measure to help departments and agencies staff bilingual positions. These interviews are now available for other types of requests, although priority will continue to be given to departments and agencies staffing positions that are related to the COVID-19 situation or that ensure the effective functioning of the Government of Canada.

The test is administered remotely by telephone by a language assessor that is certified by the Public Service Commission. Candidates do not need to be in a federal government building to be tested. Consequently, they can take the assessment from home. An onsite responsible officer is therefore not required.

The Second language interviews for levels B and C evaluate candidates’ ability to communicate orally in their second official language in response to work-related questions.

The level assessed is determined by the manager based on the requirements of the position:

  • Second language interview for level B evaluates whether a candidate meets or does not meet the criteria for level B in oral proficiency
  • Second language interview for level C evaluates whether the candidate meets or does not meet the criteria for level C in oral proficiency
Proficiency criteria

The criteria for level B and level C oral proficiency are defined by the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Qualification Standards in Relation to Official Languages.

Level B

Level C

Understands the main points of clear standard speech that deals with concrete, work-related topics and is delivered at normal speed

Understands linguistically complex speech that deals with work-related topics and is spoken in standard dialect at normal speed

A person speaking at this level can:

  • give a simple description of a concrete topic
  • explain main points comprehensibly
  • compare and discuss alternatives when complications arise

A person speaking at this level can:

  • give clear, detailed descriptions of complex topics
  • summarize a discussion
  • express and sustain opinions
  • respond to complex and hypothetical questions

A person speaking at this level:

  • has sufficient vocabulary and a variety of simple grammatical structures to handle concrete, non-routine situations and topics and can link a series of simple elements into a connected sequence when giving a factual description
  • speaks with some spontaneity, although pauses for grammatical and lexical planning and repair are evident in longer stretches
  • may be miscommunicating in some areas, but most stretches are clear
  • has a pronunciation that is generally clear enough to be understood despite an evident accent
  • may, at times, be asked by the listener to repeat or clarify

A person speaking at this level:

  • has a fairly natural and even delivery, with occasional hesitations, but most hesitations are for ideas
  • has a broad range of vocabulary and structures when talking about complex and abstract topics, with a relatively high degree of control
  • makes errors, but these rarely lead to misunderstanding
  • has a pronunciation that is clear, even if an accent from another language is noticeable
  • has occasional mispronunciations but they rarely interfere with communication
Protecting test integrity

All test content is copyrighted material of the Public Service Commission of Canada (PSC) and is designated Protected. It may not be copied, reproduced, translated, distributed or disseminated, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means for commercial or non-commercial purposes. Any unauthorized reproduction, recording and/or disclosure of test content is in contravention of the Government Security Policy and the use of such improperly obtained or transmitted information could be found to contravene the provisions of the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA).

Parties involved in the disclosure or improper use of protected test content may be investigated under the PSEA, where a finding of fraud may be punishable on summary conviction, or may be referred to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

Contact the Personnel Psychology Centre at if you think that you have seen PSC test questions posted or shared on-line (e.g., on a Web site or a private chat room) or shared in another manner (e.g., via practice test).

Preventing cheating and fraud

Candidate responsibilities are outlined in the candidate information section of our website. It is essential that the intended candidate takes the test themselves, in good faith, and without the help of other people and resources. Candidates will be asked to formally attest to their identity. Any identity falsification for the taking of the test or non-compliance with instructions such as cheating may result in the invalidation of the result of this language test, an investigation under the Public Service Employment Act and possible measures that may affect their employment in the federal public service.

If there is any suspicion of test fraud, such as the candidate having access to pre-written notes during the testing session or falsifying their identity, the Assessor administering the test has a duty to intervene if possible or report this to the Public Service Commission (Personnel Psychology Centre) in order to maintain the integrity of the test. Contact the Personnel Psychology Centre at if you have reason to doubt the validity of a candidate’s assessment.

Scheduling the test

Step 1:

Requests for the second language interviews for level B and C must be submitted by human resources officers through the Second Language Evaluation – Scheduling System (SLE-SS). When scheduling the test, the following fields are mandatory in order for the Personnel Psychology Centre to properly schedule and administer the interview:

  • Linguistic profile of the position: This is the required level for the position. This information is crucial as it will determine whether the assessor will administer the second language interview for level B or level C.
  • Telephone test: since the second language interview for level B or level C is conducted by phone only, the system will automatically select “Telephone test” and you will then need to enter your candidate’s name and phone number.
  • Test centre:
    • Montreal test centre: This test centre should be selected for all requests from the Québec region and the Atlantic region.
    • Gatineau test centre: This test centre should be selected for requests from all other regions.
  • Preferred date: please indicate the exact date you would like the candidate to be tested. Departments are asked to discuss date options with the candidate prior to sending the request to avoid reschedule requests.

Step 2: Applies only to requests for positions related to the COVID-19 response or that ensure the effective functioning of the government of Canada

To benefit from the priority given to positions that are related to the COVID-19 response or that ensure the effective functioning of the government of Canada, the requestor will be required to reply to the test request with the confirmation email and include the approval from the head of human resources or a person identified by the deputy head. The Personnel Psychology Centre will grant priority to requests prior to scheduling.

Create an account:

The resources available on the Second Language Evaluation – Scheduling System (SLE-SS) main page outline the steps to sign up and create an account in the SLE-SS. Once activated, it allows human resources officers to schedule candidates to be tested. Only people who have the delegated responsibility within their organization to make second language evaluation requests are permitted to create an account in SLE-SS. Typically, these delegated individuals are hiring managers, human resources advisors and assistants, and official language coordinators.

Contact information regarding SLE-SS:

Accommodation measures

Candidates who have a disability or any other condition that could affect their performance on the test have the right to request that adapted measures be put in place. Only the Public Service Commission (Personnel Psychology Centre) can establish assessment accommodation measures when a Public Service Commission (PSC) test is administered.

  • Notify the PSC well in advance of the test date so that appropriate arrangements can be made. Scheduling of the test can only take place once the accommodation recommendations are prepared.
  • The procedure for requesting a second language interview for level B or C with accommodations does not change from the usual procedures: Procedure to request PSC administration services when accommodation is involved.
Rescheduling or cancelling

Requests for rescheduling or cancelling tests can only be submitted through the Second Language Evaluation – Scheduling System by the human resources officer who initiated the request. Advise candidates that if they are unable to attend a testing session, they must notify your organization in order for you to determine if other arrangements can be made.

IMPORTANT: As departments are asked to provide us with their 3 preferred testing dates in the system, it is understood that these dates have been confirmed with the candidate prior to sending the request which should limit the need to reschedule tests.

Cost of test

Core jurisdiction clients

Extended jurisdiction clients

There is no fee for core jurisdiction clients (organizations that are governed under the Public Service Employment Act for their appointments).

The test administration service fee is $245 per candidate for organizations not subject to the Act that have their own appointment authority. This includes separate employers such as the Canada Revenue Agency, Parks Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, among others.

Cancellation, rescheduling and candidate no-show fees

If the Public Service Commission is not notified through the Second language evaluation – Scheduling system at least two working days before the test, your organization will be charged with a $245 test administration fee. This no-show fee applies to both core and extended jurisdiction clients.
Prepare for the test

Here is how you can help candidates get ready for their test day:

  • Ensure candidates are aware of the information made available to them in the candidate information section on our website.
  • Ask candidates to be ready to provide their personal record identifier (PRI) if they are a federal government employee. If they do not have a PRI, they will be asked to provide their date of birth for identification and record keeping purposes.
  • Ask candidates to be prepared to attest to their identity. The text of the attestation is available in the candidate information section on our website.
  • Ask candidates to be prepared to start the test 10 minutes before the scheduled start time. This will allow them to prepare and be ready for the assessor’s call at the scheduled time of the test. Candidates should make arrangements to be alone in a calm environment where they will not be disturbed for the duration of the test.
  • Candidates may take notes during the test so remind them to ensure that they have pens, pencils and paper available. They may refer to the notes they have taken during the test to help respond to questions. Due to the protected nature of the test, we ask that candidates destroy their notes after the test. The assessor will also remind them of this at the time of the test.
  • If the candidate feels unwell before or during the test due to a physical or psychological indisposition, they should inform the assessor. If the candidate completes the test despite their indisposition, they must accept the test result.
  • Some smart phones have an option that blocks unknown numbers: please check with candidates to see if their phone can receive calls from hidden numbers. If this is not the case, contact us to advise us and to be provided with an alternate connection option.
Test results and validity period

The result received is an evaluation of the candidate’s ability to meet the requirements of the B or C level. Based on their test performance, the candidate can obtain a result of either “Meets the requirements” or “Does not meet the requirements” for the level being assessed (B or C).

Hiring departments and agencies are responsible for documenting and tracking the results for staffing purposes. The Public Service Commission keeps records of the results for internal record-keeping only. Candidates who request their test result from the Public Service Commission will be referred to the requesting organization, which will then share the result with candidates. The result sheet will be the only feedback available for this test.

We expect results to be sent out to the requesting organization within 3 business days of the testing date.

  • Validity of test results
    • Valid for 1 year.
    • Valid only to staff the position for which the assessment was conducted. Unlike other second language evaluation tests, the test result is not transferable from one position to another.
    • When the validity period expires, the result is valid for an indefinite period solely with regard to the position held by the person, as long as the linguistic profile of the position has not been raised above the employee’s skill level.
    • Managers may reassess a candidate at any time prior to or after making an appointment should there be concerns about an employee’s proficiency level and/or to respect departmental policies on updating expired test results.
Retest period

There is no retest period for this assessment because it is position specific and the result is non-transferable.

Candidate recourse mechanism

Candidates may ask for a file review if they have concerns that the result they received does not reflect their performance during the interview or if they believe that the interview was not administered under favorable conditions (complaint). A file review is the process whereby all elements of a file will be assessed. Candidates may be contacted directly if additional information is required. As the interview is not recorded, it is not possible to request a rescore or a listening session after this assessment.

Candidates must initiate the review of their file, in writing, within 10 business days after the results were sent to the organization that requested the test, via the departmental human resource officer that submitted the request for testing. Departmental officers can, in turn, submit the request to review a file, in writing, to The following information will need to be provided by the departmental officer:

In the event that a candidate is being offered a retest, they must confirm their intention to be retested, in writing, by replying to the received notification so that their previous result can be invalidated. The result obtained in the retest will become their official result.

In order to schedule the retest, a new interview request has to be entered in the Second Language Evaluation – Scheduling System. In the "Comments" section, please indicate "Retest offered by the Public Service Commission for (name of candidate)’s interview on (date of test)".

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