Simulations for the Selection of Executives - Simulations for the Selection of Executives

As of June 30, 2023, this assessment centre will no longer be available. 


The Simulations for the Selection of Executives (SELEX) assesses a number of leadership competencies in selection processes for entry-level executive positions in the federal public service. SELEX provides departments and agencies with a rigorous, independent, third-party assessment of candidates at the EX minus 1 and 2 levels, aspiring to entry-level executive positions.

SELEX is used exclusively for selection.

In January 2016, following the release of the new Key Leadership Competencies (2015), SELEX was aligned with the new competencies. It now assesses: Uphold Integrity and Respect, Create Vision and Strategy, Collaborate with Partners and Stakeholders, Achieve Results and Mobilize People. These competencies have been noted as ones that are well assessed by interactive simulations.

SELEX scores obtained before January 2016 continue to be valid after the realignment with the new Key Leadership Competencies (2015).

Overview of SELEX

Developed and administered by the Personnel Psychology Centre (PPC) of the Public Service Commission, SELEX consists of three interrelated simulations. In these simulations, the candidate assumes the duties and responsibilities of a director in a simulated organization. The three simulations provide the candidate with the opportunity to demonstrate aspects of the Key Leadership Competencies (2015) by dealing with varied issues and challenges typical of entry-level executive positions. The candidate's behaviour on each of the competencies is observed, recorded and evaluated by trained assessors using standardized rating procedures.

Assessment process for candidates


Seven days before participating in SELEX, the candidate receives instructions and background information for preparation, including information on the simulated organization, the director's position, the simulations and the Key Leadership Competencies (2015) and behaviours to be assessed. It is very important that candidates review and be familiar with this information before the assessment.

Since the day at SELEX will be stimulating, candidates are advised to have a good rest the night before. They are also advised to give themselves plenty of time to arrive at the assessment site so they will not start the day feeling rushed.

The assessment day

Briefly summarized, the candidate's day at SELEX proceeds as follows:

  • The candidate prepares for the first simulation which consists of a meeting with both a superior (the director general) and a peer in the simulated organization. During this meeting, the candidate makes a presentation/briefing and then answers questions.
  • The candidate is provided with material to prepare for the second simulation. After the 30-minute preparation period, the candidate meets with two subordinate managers to reach decisions on varied issues.
  • The candidate is given 25 minutes to prepare for the third simulation, which involves a meeting with an external stakeholder on an issue of mutual concern and a follow-up meeting with a peer.

In each successive simulation, candidates can use the material that they have previously received and/or prepared.

The roles of others in the simulations (i.e., superior, peers, stakeholder) are assumed by two trained assessors and a psychologist. The assessors are former or current executives. After each simulation, both of the trained assessors use standardized rating materials to evaluate behavioural indicators for each of the competencies.

The report and feedback

After the assessment, a report is produced that describes the candidate's performance. The report is provided to the selection board and to the candidate. As well, after the assessment, candidates are given a questionnaire to enable them to provide feedback on their experience at SELEX. Candidates' responses to the questionnaire are used, along with other sources of information, for quality assurance purposes.

After the candidate has received their assessment report, a PPC psychologist provides personal feedback to the candidate, upon the candidate's request.

Assessment of members of designated employment equity groups

For candidates with disabilities, accommodation is made, based on the PPC's Guidelines for Assessing Persons with Disabilities. Candidates are advised in their letter of invitation to SELEX that accommodation is available for candidates with disabilities. Prior to assessment, and after discussion with the candidate, a determination is made of what, if any, adjustments are necessary to accommodate the candidate's needs. Occasionally, candidates will not self-identify as a person with a disability until they arrive for assessment. In this case, after discussion with the candidate about what adjustments, if any, are needed, accommodation is made either that day, or as soon as feasible.

The competencies assessed

SELEX assesses aspects of Key Leadership Competencies (2015) important for success as a federal public service executive.

The following provides the definitions of these competencies that are assessed by SELEX. The key leadership behaviours (B) are generic and transcend specific executive functions.

Uphold Integrity and Respect

Leaders exemplify ethical practices, professionalism and personal integrity. They create respectful and trusting work environments where sound advice is valued. They encourage the expression of diverse opinions and perspectives, while fostering collegiality. Leaders are self-aware and seek out opportunities for personal growth.

To demonstrate Uphold Integrity and Respect, a director does the following:

  • B1 – Recognizes ethical challenges and ensures the ethical operation of the organization's business;
  • B2 – Incorporates fairness, equity and transparency in executing duties; and
  • B3 – Values the diversity of people, their background, work styles and situations in managing staff and serving the greater public.

Create Vision and Strategy

Leaders define the future and chart a path forward. They are adept at understanding and communicating context, factoring in the economic, social and political environment. Intellectually agile, they leverage their deep and broad knowledge, build on diverse ideas and perspectives and create consensus around compelling visions. Leaders balance organizational and government-wide priorities and improve outcomes for Canada and Canadians.

To demonstrate Create Vision and Strategy, a director does the following:

  • B1 – Provides a coherent picture of multiple issues and projects by analyzing, integrating and accurately interpreting complex information;
  • B2 – Demonstrates judgement by making decisions that accurately weigh the organizational, policy and operational impacts of various options for action;
  • B3 – Identifies broad strategies to address related issues, in the immediate and longer term (one to two years); and
  • B4 – Understands his or her own role and uses the mandate and priorities of the organization to guide the work of the sector.

Collaborate with Partners and Stakeholders

Leaders are deliberate and resourceful about seeking the widest possible spectrum of perspectives. They demonstrate openness and flexibility to forge consensus and improve outcomes. They bring a whole-of-government perspective to their interactions. In negotiating solutions, they are open to alternatives and skillful at managing expectations. Leaders share recognition with their teams and partners.

To demonstrate Collaborate with Partners and Stakeholders, a director does the following:

  • B1 – Uses own understanding of how organizations work to get buy-in and support for initiatives;
  • B2 – Encourages open communication;
  • B3 – Uses communication to manage issues and perceptions;
  • B4 – Tailors communication to suit the audience and situation, getting ideas across in a way that others understand;
  • B5 – Understands others' concerns, perspectives and situations and expresses views with respect; and
  • B6 – Handles difficult interpersonal situations constructively and sensitively, advancing the work of the organization.

Achieve Results

Leaders mobilize and manage resources to deliver on the priorities of the Government, improve outcomes and add value. They consider context, risks and business intelligence to support high-quality and timely decisions. They anticipate, plan, monitor progress and adjust, as needed. Leaders take personal responsibility for their actions and outcomes of their decisions.

To demonstrate Achieve Results, a director does the following:

  • B1 – Takes action to make things happen in a timely and efficient manner, anticipating and handling obstacles;
  • B2 – Manages financial and technological resources to optimize organizational performance;
  • B3 – Performs effectively in changing circumstances with people with different perspectives and situations; and
  • B4 – Views change as a positive challenge that may also involve risk and experimentation, and capitalizes on change.

Mobilize People

Leaders inspire and motivate the people they lead. They manage performance, provide constructive and respectful feedback to encourage and enable performance excellence. They lead by example, setting goals for themselves that are more demanding than those that they set for others.

To demonstrate Mobilize People, a director does the following:

  • B1 – Manages human resources, including employment equity, to get the work done;
  • B2 – Reinforces positive working relationships and environment by considering the impact of decisions on others’ well-being;
  • B3 – Balances the demands from various parts of the organization and the diverse needs of employees and stakeholders; and
  • B4 – Fosters organizational flexibility by ensuring people get the continuous learning opportunities they need to stay current and to continue to improve.

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