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Personnel Selection Officer

OFFICER | Full Time, Part Time

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As a member of the military, Personnel Selection Officers apply behavioural science knowledge and procedures to evaluate the factors that affect working relationships. They provide professional advice to military commanders, particularly in the areas of recruiting, selection, leadership, performance appraisal and other human resource issues.

The primary responsibilities of a Personnel Selection Officer are to:

  • Assess applicants to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and recommend training
  • Recommend CAF members for special training
  • Support professional development, accreditation and transition programs
  • Conduct applied and advanced behavioural research
  • Conduct occupational analyses
  • Teach military leadership, management and behavioural science courses
  • Train Military Career Counsellors in interviewing techniques, personnel assessments and counselling techniques
  • Write selection policy, design selection instruments, and develop selection assessment processes
  • Engage in strategic human resource concept design, planning and coordination

Work environment

Personnel Selection Officers work in a variety of settings, from an office environment in a headquarters or base, to operational tours abroad in support of CAF missions. Personnel Selection Officers initially work at the base level conducting interviews and aptitude tests, and compiling other sources of information to assess the suitability of individuals for commissioning programs, subsequent assignments, and appropriate military occupations.

If you chose a career in the Regular Force, upon completion of all required training, you will be assigned to your first base. While there is some flexibility with regards to postings (relocations), accommodations can’t always be made, and therefore, you can likely expect to move at some point in your career. However, if you decide to join the Primary Reserve Force, you will do so through a specific Reserve unit. Outside of training, your chosen Reserve unit will be your workplace on a part time basis, and you will not be obligated to relocate to a different base. As part of the Primary Reserve Force, you typically work one night per week and some weekends as a minimum with possibilities of full-time employment.

Career Overview


MAJOR CHRISTINA EASTWOOD: I’m Major Christina Eastwood from Timmins, Ontario. I’m a Personnel Selection Officer currently serving with the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group Headquarters at CFB Borden, Ontario.

Personnel Selection Officers, or PSOs, are the behavioural science experts in the Canadian Armed Forces. They develop selection standards and processes, leadership development models, and performance appraisal systems. They support the growth and career progress of military personnel at all ranks, helping to ensure the organization has the right people in the right jobs to fulfill its mandate.

MAJOR CHRISTINA EASTWOOD: Similarly to our counterparts in the civilian sector, which perform HR functions, we are implicated oftentimes in policy, recruitment selection, whether they be internally with our in-service programs, or externally in recruitment such as I am at this time. We also will certainly bring our specialties within certain commands in the Canadian Armed Forces, whether that be Special Operations, the Army, the Air Force or Navy — and enable them not only to develop programs that contribute to the wellness of their people but also to maintaining their operational effectiveness as a whole.

Personnel Selection Officers influence the recruitment of new personnel and optimize the fit and potential of serving members by overseeing the selection processes for various personnel plans and programs. They also work closely with all occupations that require specialized selection.

PSOs may also find themselves in teaching positions.

MAJOR CHRISTINA EASTWOOD: I’ve been afforded the opportunity to teach at the Royal Military College for 4 years. In addition to the Royal Military College, we have our own school system where you can contribute to training and development of personnel in the Canadian Armed Forces.

PSOs also act as social cultural advisors to top commanders in the military, providing insights on human dimensions that support decision-making on military missions.

MAJOR CHRISTINA EASTWOOD: It is our role and responsibility to advise the leadership or the commanders in terms of what are best practices, what are the various options available to them, and what you recommend as a course of action.

Most military operations around the world include specialist behavioural science support, and PSOs can also be deployed to assist in these roles.

For example, they may conduct leader profiling in a foreign nation, or examine the cultural environment for a specific mission.

MAJOR CHRISTINA EASTWOOD: Day in, day out, I get to assist individuals to reach their goals or dreams. At this time, I’m not working on a base, but I’m working in an environment where we’re supporting individual Canadians achieve their goals of becoming members of the Canadian Armed Forces. And that, again, is really rewarding, especially when you can see somebody who first enrols, and then a number of years later you actually get to encounter them in the Forces — and I get to hear about all the great things they’ve accomplished throughout their career.

Once qualified, PSOs are posted to an Army Base, Air Force Wing or Navy Formation within Canada.

MAJOR CHRISTINA EASTWOOD: They are likely to be posted to a base somewhere across Canada in order to be able to complete a 1-year on-job training program. And this will expose them, and certainly hone their skillsets, in terms of being able to implement and certainly manage not only some of the programs that we have across the Forces but also hone their skills in terms of career counselling with our members.

PSOs in the Reserve Force return to their home units to continue developing their skillsets.

PSOs often work individually; however, they are integrated into the larger military team as part of their advisory roles.

MAJOR CHRISTINA EASTWOOD: I’ve had the opportunities to work on a garrison, I’ve had the opportunities to teach at the College, I have the opportunity now to work within recruiting, and what has been fascinating about each of these opportunities is that each day — and certainly each position — has brought a different challenge. So it has enabled me, as a person, to grow not only in terms of my core competencies and my function, but just overall as a person. And so, that, for me, has been what’s been the big win in terms of my career as a selection officer.

Related Civilian Occupations

  • Developmental Psychologist
  • Employment Counsellor
  • Personnel Officer
  • Human Resources Advisor


After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 12 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the CAF, basic weapons handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in training exercises involving force protection, field training, navigation and leadership. A rigorous physical fitness program is also a vital part of basic training. Basic officer training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.

Following basic officer training, official second language training may be offered to you. Training could take from two to nine months to complete depending on your ability in your second language.

Learn more about Basic Training here.

Personnel Selection Officers attend the Canadian Forces Training Development Centre in Borden, Ontario. They learn how to conduct interviews, and how to evaluate and counsel individuals concerning military service, military occupational training and employment, special training and employment, resettlement, academic upgrading and orientation. They also learn to conduct Second Career Assistance Workshops and provide career counselling for military members transitioning to the civilian workforce.

Personnel Selection Officers are posted to a base to complete several months of on-the-job training, where they gain experience in the practice, theory, knowledge and skills required of this job under the supervision of a more senior member.

Personnel Selection Officers may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Unit Personnel Selection
  • Organizational Consulting

As they progress in their career, Personnel Selection Officers who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced training. Available courses include:

  • Advanced Personnel Selection
  • Graduate training in
  • Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Industrial Relations
  • Sociology

Entry plans

The required education for this position is a Master’s degree in a social science, such as Psychology or Industrial Relations. Other graduate degrees may be considered based on related experience. Consideration will be given to applications who have an undergraduate degree in Psychology.

The ideal candidate will already have a graduate degree, the CAF will decide if your academic program matches the criteria for this job and may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training.

Foreign education may be accepted.

Part time options

This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time at an Air Force Wing in their community, and may serve while going to school or working at a civilian job. They are paid during their training. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.

Personnel Selection Officers may serve with the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army or the Royal Canadian Air Force. They provide professional advice to military commanders regarding recruiting, selection, leadership, performance appraisal and other human resource issues. When they are employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis they usually serve at CAF bases, wings, home ports and units at locations within Canada.

Find a Recruiting Centre


Reserve Force members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts. They usually begin training with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required basic professional military standards. Following basic officer training, the home unit will arrange for specialized skills training. Personnel Selection Officers train for their qualification at the Canadian Forces Training Development Centre in Borden, Ontario.

Reserve Force members usually serve part-time with their home unit for scheduled evenings and weekends, although they may also serve in full-time positions at some units for fixed terms, depending on the type of work that they do. They are paid 92.8% of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.