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Applying for a Government Job

If you want to work for the federal government in Ottawa, you will want to learn and understand how the hiring and interviewing system works. You shouldn’t plan for an interview at a government job in the same way you do for civilian job if you really want to work for the government. The federal government in particular works in a different way.

The process of getting a government job in Ottawa is for the most part beyond your control. You can apply and then wait for the process to play itself out. Here are the usual steps.

  • When you see an available government job, you must complete the application process exactly as the posting states. Then you wait for the posting deadline to pass before anyone reviews the applications.
  • Applications are then screened and every application will be read in respect to the minimum qualifications. Anyone not meeting the minimum will be screened out.
  • Following this screen, the department Human Resource Manager and the hiring manager draw up a list of those to be interviewed. If any points are to be added to a candidate’s application, it occurs at this stage.
  • Interviews are scheduled and the required reference and background checks are conducted.
  • Candidates are interviewed. There are usually at least 3 to 5 final candidates for each opening. If a candidate drops out before this stage, the Human Resources Manager with or without the hiring manager might add the next person in line to group in order to have the appropriate number of interviews. This stage of interviewing might take several weeks to complete.
  • Following all interviews the hiring manager; panel or Human Resource Manager will determine the number one candidate and ranks all other remaining candidates in order.
  • An offer is made to the number one candidate verbally and both salary and start date are negotiated at this time. A letter is then sent to the finalist documenting these agreements and the candidate must accept in writing.
  • The government department then draws up the necessary paperwork to set in motion the actual hire on the agreed upon start date.
  • The government department will then notify all the candidates who applied for the position. No applicant is notified until this point. So you can see that it can be months between the time a candidate applies, is screened out and is officially notified of their rejection. There are a few departments in the government that might not notify the rejected candidates at all, but only the ones who are granted an interview. If only the finalists who are interviewed will be notified of the results of the search then this information is usually clearly stated on the job posting and on the web page that this will be the process.

So if you are going to apply for a government job remember these things. Some candidates will have points added to their application that might put them ahead of you in the interview process. These points are usually for military service. Allow several months for the process to be completed before expecting to hear from the government if you are not chosen for an interview.


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