Updated August 24, 2021

CaRMS has developed guidelines to assist programs in conducting applicant interviews. These guidelines are based on the terms of the CaRMS service contract with AFMC, CaRMS privacy policy, CaRMS Match Violations Policy (MVP), as well as applicable privacy and human rights legislation.

We encourage UGME/PGME standing committees to develop their own program-specific materials and to consult with their own legal counsel as required. As a program in the match, you have the responsibility to recruit the most suitable persons based on your program’s criteria.

Applicant rights

Applicant rights are defined by applicable human rights legislation that is intended to ensure all individuals have equal employment opportunities without regard to: race, colour, national or ethnic origin, religion, age, family or marital status, sex, gender identity, gender expression, a pardoned conviction, disability or sexual orientation.

Human rights legislation is not intended to prevent organizations from choosing candidates based on skills that are required for the position. A particular skill or qualification can be specified if the preference is based on a bona fide occupational requirement. Occupational requirements should focus on a person’s actual ability – not assumptions based on a group characteristic. We encourage your selection committees to obtain additional information on determining bona fide occupational requirements from the human rights office within your institution or from the human rights commission in your province/territory.

In accordance with the Services Contract between the AFMC and CaRMS, you are only permitted to use and/or hold the personal information of applicants, disclosed to you by CaRMS, for the purpose of selecting candidates for postgraduate residency training programs. You must securely destroy, delete or convert personal information into anonymous form for all unmatched applicants unless otherwise permitted by CaRMS.

Preparing for interviews

We recommend you keep applicants informed about the progress and status of their application, including:

  • Communicating with unsuccessful applicants by thanking them for their interest in the program and informing them that they will not be invited to an interview.
  • Inviting shortlisted applicants for an interview, in keeping with the CaRMS match timetables, no less than three weeks before the interview date and coordinating interview itineraries for out-of-town interviewees within the national interview period.

The following tips will help you prepare for conducting interviews:

  • Prior to interviews, develop a set of questions to ask all applicants – including internal applicants.
  • Determine, in advance of interviews, the criteria that will be used in decisions to NOT rank an applicant.
  • Determine, in advance of interviews, the criteria for ranking applicants scored equally.
  • Interview length is left to your discretion. CaRMS urges you to keep in mind the travel costs and effort applicants dedicate to attending interviews. We also suggest you consider allowing a minimum of 30 minutes per interview or 30 minutes total for multiple short interviews. Other recruitment strategies such as tours and meeting with residents will require additional time.
  • Ask all applicants, regardless of their gender, about their ability and availability to travel to distributed and/or distant training sites.
  • Ask questions that relate directly to the residency position and avoid questions relating to protected human rights grounds. Human rights legislation prohibits both intentional and unintentional discrimination. Keep in mind that compliance with human rights legislation does not rest upon intentions, but rather upon the consistency with which applicants are treated and the types of questions they are asked. Ensure that questions assess criteria that can be evaluated objectively.
  • It may be reasonable for the selection committee to consider “fit” when evaluating applicants. “Fit” refers to an applicant’s ability to make a positive contribution to the program environment. However, “fit” must not be used inappropriately to indulge personal biases or to discriminate against applicants.
  • Reliable decisions are those based on aggregates of multiple assessments, either in the form of multiple interviews, multiple interviewers, or both.
  • Ensure conversations and written communications with applicants do not depart from the university’s policies and collective agreements.
  • Verifying an applicant’s identity by the start of an interview is permissible both in virtual and in-person settings. It is recommended to communicate that expectation to applicants prior to the interview and list your accepted forms of identification.
  • If providing memorabilia tokens, or gifts, to all interviewed applicants is part of your interview process, it is strongly recommended that this act be carried out uniformly (to best avoid it being interpreted as an act of displaying intents towards ranking preferences) and be accompanied with transparent communication and with the appropriate consent beforehand.
  • Remember that applicants are also making decisions about which universities/programs to rank.

A safe and fair interview process:  A program’s obligations

Everyone who participates in a CaRMS match enters into a match contract that outlines their responsibilities and obligations to ensure equitable processes and mutual accountability. The Match Violations Policy (MVP) is how the obligations set out in these contracts are enforced. There are specific provisions within the MVP that help to ensure a safe and fair interview process and any suspected violations brought forward to the CaRMS Violations Review Committee will be investigated, reviewed, and sanctioned in accordance with the Match Violations Policy.

We have compiled the following list of obligations for conducting interviews to help ensure you are doing so in accordance with all relevant policies and legislation. Please note, this list is intended to be illustrative, not exhaustive.

It is the program’s responsibility to ensure that:

  • Interviews should be conducted in privacy and without interruption.
  • Interviews must be free of intimidation.
  • Interviews cannot include personal questions about family, religion, marital status, age or finances.
  • Interviews cannot include questions, allusions, remarks or coercion about other applications, interviews or ranking.
  • Interviewers cannot exert undue or unwarranted pressure on the selection decisions of applicants. Both applicants and participating residency programs may express a high degree of interest in each other but may not make statements implying a commitment.
  • Program directors and/or agents of the program (e.g. faculty members, interviewing teams including residents) are not permitted to ask applicants how they intend to rank programs or request any information on other programs the applicant may have applied to. Rank order lists (ROL) are confidential and program ROLs are not to be shared at any point during or after the match cycle, unless under legal obligation.
  • If providing post-interview feedback to applicants is part of your interview process, ensure the feedback is in line with the Match Violations Policy.
  • Programs should not post applicant photos or information to social media or any online platform (other than secured platforms used for evaluation purposes) unless the proper consent has been obtained.
  • Conflicts of interest are to be disclosed and addressed prior to the start of an interview. It is recommended each program refer to their faculty’s policy and process on addressing a conflict of interest in an interview/review panel setting. It is strongly recommended that the interview panel member posing a conflict of interest be replaced for the specific interview session and depending on the nature of the conflict of interest, be removed from the entire process for that match cycle.

We also encourage you to develop your own additional guidelines and to provide faculty/interviewer education sessions and workshops outlining the guidelines and policies relevant to your own university and provincial legislation.

Sample questions

The questions you ask during the interview process must respect the applicant’s rights as outlined above and in the Match Violations Policy but are left entirely to programs’ discretion. We have provided samples of appropriate and inappropriate questions to help guide you in preparing your interview questions.

Examples of appropriate questions:

  • How do you deal with problems when they arise?
  • What are you looking for in terms of learning opportunities?
  • What have you found to be your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What has your experience been in working with people in authority?
  • Do you have any ideas about how you learn best?
  • Are you legally entitled to work in Canada?
  • What past experiences have you had that would suit you to undertake this residency program?

Examples of inappropriate questions:

  • Where were you born?
  • How old are you?
  • What is your ethnic background?
  • Are you married/planning marriage?
  • What does your spouse do for a living? Is the job transferable?
  • Do you have children or plan to have children?
  • What is your sexual orientation?
  • What is your religion?
  • What is your first language?
  • Can a photo be attached to your application or sent to the interviewer before the interview? (CaRMS will unmask the photograph in the electronic applicant file after the interviews begin.)
  • Please list your disabilities, limitations, or health problems?
  • Do you drink or use drugs?
  • Have you ever received psychiatric care or been hospitalized for emotional problems?
  • Have you ever received worker’s compensation?
  • Are you currently under a physician’s care?
  • What is the name of your family doctor?
  • Are you currently receiving counseling or therapy?
  • Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • Do you have a criminal record?
  • What other programs did you apply to?
  • Have you received other interviews?
  • Do you plan to rank our program?
  • Where on your list will you rank our program?

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