Top 3 indicators of immigration fraud

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Canadian immigration fraud is an unfortunately common occurrence. So much so that the Canada government routinely issues warnings and has a whole section on their website on how to avoid fraud. As this is an ongoing issue, we are sharing our top 3 indications that a job or immigration offer may be too good to be true. 

  1. A job offer or a visa application that depends on payment to be successful

Scammers are out to make money. One of the most effective strategies they deploy is to make important milestones depend on you paying money before it can move forward. Often, this is coupled with a tight deadline: “You must pay in 3 days or else you will lose the job offer or the visa application will no longer be valid.” 

Legitimate job offers in Canada never depend on payment. After all, the employer is the one looking to pay you for the skills and experience you bring to the table, not the other way around. It is actually illegal in the Province of Ontario for employers and recruiters to charge the job seeker directly. Furthermore, in Canada employers cannot collect their recruitment fees in connection with hiring international workers from the worker themselves. 

While there are legitimate fees associated with immigration and work permit applications, these are almost always due near the end of the visa application process and not at the beginning. And, if the fees are for someone helping you with your immigration application, you should check if they are a licensed representative authorized to charge such fees before paying them as lawyers and consultants must charge fees that are “fair and reasonable.” 

If the recruiter, employer or representative you’re working with is asking you for money before providing a job offer or going through a visa process – this is a big warning sign that you’re being scammed.

  1. Non-licensed individuals working on visa applications

In Canada, only licensed individuals are able to charge money for providing immigration legal advice. If someone is helping you with Canadian immigration and charging money for it, you should first make sure that they are properly licensed. Luckily, checking licensing is easy. 

If the person states that they are an immigration consultant, immigration agent, or immigration specialist, you should search for their name on this website: https://college-ic.ca/protecting-the-public/find-an-immigration-consultant. A properly licensed immigration consultant will appear on this website. 

If the person states that they are a lawyer, then they should be licensed in their province or territory. All law societies have a lawyers’ directory, where a properly licensed individual will appear:

If the person providing advice for money does not appear on any of these lists, then it’s a high indication that they are acting against the law and may be targeting you in a scam attempt.

  1. Unofficial-looking documents and unreasonable guarantees

Another indication that you may be a subject to a scam is that the documents you receive look unofficial. Your job offer should be on company letterhead and look professional. This means that text should look uniform and use the same font, usually in 11-14 point font size. The letter should be mostly in black and white with colour reserved for the company logo and in the header/footer (links to websites can appear in blue). 

The content of the job offer letter matters, too: If it contains unreasonable guarantees such as “no tax” or “all expenses paid,” it is worth a second look to see if the offer is legitimate. 

Further, there are never guarantees for immigration as the Canadian government is the one to make the final decisions. So, if you are promised a “guaranteed visa” that will be “100%” successful, you should take that as an obvious red flag – especially if it’s connected to a request for payment to secure that guarantee.

What do I do next?

This list is by no means exhaustive. You may be a victim of a scam or fraud even if you do not have any of the concerns listed above.

If you think you may be a target of a scam, here are a few ways to confirm your instincts:

  • Independently verify the job offer or visa details. If your job offer did not come directly from the employer, search for contact information about the employer using Google, and send a simple email asking them to confirm your job offer details.
  • Ask a trusted friend or family member who is familiar with Canadian or North American style recruiting to check your job offer or other documents. 
  • Check a regulatory body. Using the links above, always check if an immigration lawyer or advisor who is charging fees is licensed to do so. 
  • Do a Google search to see if anyone has reported any problems with this company, recruiter or representative.

And, if you are a victim of fraud, you should report this to the authorities: 

At TalentLift, we work with Canadian employers who have genuine interest in hiring talent from within displaced and refugee populations. We do not charge our candidates any fees, and we are a registered Civil Society Organization licensed to provide legal services through the Law Society of Ontario.

Candidates living in refugee circumstances and seeking a job in Canada can join TalentLift. Employers seeking global talent while engaging their team in something transformative can start hiring.

Canadian hiring teams can “take a leap” in East Africa and beyond

There are more than 27 million people living in refugee situations worldwide, and one third are living in countries in Africa. 

We got a chance to hear from a few people in the East Africa region about their experience getting a job offer in Canada. Our team was in Nairobi at a meeting organized by the regional UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) team to raise awareness and share good practice on supporting talented folks to access job opportunities in Canada and beyond as a solution to their displacement.

Bahati is a nurse who was living in Kenya as a refugee before our partners at RefugePoint and the Shapiro Foundation supported her to connect with the Glen Haven Manor team in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, where she’s living and working today. She was back in Nairobi too reflecting on her experience. Bahati recalled that for so long, “you’re living day to day, you don’t know what the future is going to be.” She also felt the weight of her identify as a refugee – which changed when she got to Canada. “The minute you step off the plane, you’re not a refugee anymore.”

“I expected to be identified as a refugee. It becomes who you are.” Instead, she found a team who saw her as a colleague first. 

The Bahati I got to know is a nursing professional, a mom, a partner, a leading voice advocating for open skilled visas for displaced talent, warm, funny, and an eager friend to anyone.

Tekle also shared his experience getting a job offer in Canada. He too is a nurse and got a job offer with Chancellor Park in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, another part of the country facing a critical shortage of healthcare staff. TalentLift met Tekle through our partners at UNHCR in the East Africa region and connected him to the Chancellor Park team. His visa process is underway. 

It’s remarkable to hear as part of someone’s personal story the urgent question about everyone else. Tekle said he’s the only one he knows so far who got an opportunity to meet a Canadian hiring team, but “there are thousands of others with skills.” Not only nurses, but countless professionals.

Bahati spoke directly to scaling our work too. To governments, she urged: “Barriers that can be removed, should be removed.” People who are in refugee situations are an equity-deserving group, and we can level the field for them in Canadian skilled immigration by overcoming disadvantages they face that have nothing to do with skills or potential.

“They have been through so much, and they shouldn’t be taken through other things that are unnecessary,” she said. “If there’s any policy we see we can influence to make it easier for them and their families, we should.”

The Canadian Government is listening. It recently announced forthcoming changes to the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP) aimed at greater access. But better is always possible – and TalentLift will keep advocating for ways to deepen equity and scale opportunities. 

We’re also deeping our partnerships in East Africa as we work to ensure people living in all geographies can be visible to Canadian hiring teams. We’re working with partners in Ethiopia and Rwanda now and we invite candidates anywhere to register on our talent platform. 

Candidates register on the talent platform in the UNHCR office in Jijiga, Ethiopia.

We need hiring teams right beside us. We need the leadership of Canadian companies to welcome many more talented job-seekers like Bahati and Tekle – to join your team and leave displacement behind.

As Doug Stephens, General Manager Operations, of the MacLeod Group said, “take a leap.” Andrew Walsh, the former CEO of Iress, knows that the ripple effects throughout the business will be “immeasurable.”

 

Join a community of pioneering hiring teams across Canada. Start hiring with TalentLift.

A global, diverse, extraordinary talent pool in displacement is in reach

Employers recruiting with TalentLift have a global, diverse, extraordinary talent pool in reach. Our talent platform is a bridge between Canadian hiring teams and talented job seekers living in refugee circumstances globally. 

For a long time, Canada’s skilled visas didn’t work for people living in refugee circumstances no matter how talented they were. Today, that’s changing. Canada has removed barriers like requiring a valid passport, which is impossible for people who can’t get one from a home government like Afghanistan or Syria, and requiring savings in a bank account. These requirements have nothing to do with skills and potential, and have structurally disadvantaged displaced talent. 

With visas opening up, TalentLift and our partners are supporting this talent pool to get visible – and in front of Canada’s hiring teams. 

Who are TalentLift candidates? 

Incredible people, first off. All are job seekers currently living in refugee circumstances and seeking an opportunity to contribute their skills, and to relocate alongside their families somewhere they can put down roots and thrive.  

Our candidates are living in more than 100 countries. The top 10 geographies where TalentLift candidates registered on the talent platform are living as refugees are: Ethiopia, Pakistan, Peru, Nigeria, Iran, India, Turkey, Lebanon, Poland, and Kenya. 

Countries where TalentLift candidates registered on the talent platform are living in refugee circumstances. 

The top 10 countries of origin of candidates are: Afghanistan, Eritrea, Cameroon, Venezuela, Somalia, Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ukraine, and Yemen. Their professions span sectors like manufacturing, engineering, tech, healthcare, child care, hospitality, and numerous skilled trades. 

Countries of birth or citizenship of TalentLift candidates registered on the talent platform.

Every day, we and our employer partners meet extraordinary people. Here are just a few of them:

Sisi graduated with a bachelor’s in nursing in her home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, before she had to leave for safety to Nigeria. There, she was able to keep working in healthcare but only informally, and without a secure path forward for herself or her career. Her next stop, however, is St. John’s on Canada’s East Coast where she’ll be a Personal Care Attendant and work towards her Canadian nursing license. Her skills are needed by almost every community across Canada, and Chancellor Park in St. John’s is the team that met and hired her first. She’ll follow in the steps of another new member of the Chancellor Park team, Dilruba, a healthcare professional originally from Afghanistan who said her favourite thing in Canada is “everything.”

Tahsin learned software engineering only after leaving the country where he was born, Myanmar, when he was a kid. He left because it wasn’t – and still isn’t – safe for people who are Rohingya. His family had to relocate to Indonesia, where folks living as refugees can be barred from basics like opening a bank account. Tahsin learned his computer skills from scratch in Indonesia and took courses he couldn’t officially get credit for to soak up information. Now, he’s working as a Full Stack Developer for Canadian green tech company EnPowered while applying for a skilled visa to Waterloo. In Canada, he’ll have permanent residence and a pathway to obtain his first-ever citizenship. New hires at EnPowered share electricity jokes when they start. We think he gets full points for this: “Renewable Energy? I am A Big Fan.”

How do hiring teams meet candidates? 

Get in touch! Once we know more about your open roles and your team, we’ll shortlist candidates with the skills you need.

Our goal is a seamless recruitment and relocation experience for you and the candidates you hire. TalentLift provides talent search, visa, and relocation services all in house. We know that a seamless experience for hiring teams is part of raising the competitiveness of our candidates.

How do candidates register with TalentLift? 

Candidates living in refugee circumstances anywhere can register their skills and aspirations on TalentLift’s talent platform. Registration on the talent platform is simple and free. Candidates can create a profile in minutes and return anytime to update it. We don’t charge candidates any fees at any time. 

On the talent platform, candidates can: 

  • Register a profile to be visible to Canadian employers seeking international talent
  • Upload a CV or create one using our CV builder
  • Express interest in open job opportunities
  • Access upskilling opportunities such as English language courses
  • Live chat with the TalentLift team about any questions

How does TalentLift find candidates? 

Often, they find us! But we also invest in finding them by working with some outstanding non-profit organizations in different refugee-hosting countries globally. Among our partners are FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance, HIAS, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Refugee Action Hub (MIT ReACT), Talent Beyond Boundaries, Lifeline Afghanistan, and several UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) country offices. We intentionally pursue partnerships in underserved geographies, which we consider as places hosting populations of concern to UNHCR but representing low levels of humanitarian resettlement to Canada. 

Another thing you should know about TalentLift? 

We never say no to a challenge facing our candidates, and we’ve never met a closed door without finding an open window. No documents? Can’t register without government ID for an IELTS English test? Can’t get permission to travel internally? No internet connection? An exit process? We solve each and every outlandish and ridiculous obstacle facing talented people in displacement whose skills are needed by teams in Canada. 

Our commitment is a seamless recruitment and relocation experience. That’s our contribution to levelling the field, for the teams and candidates who make transformative hiring happen.

Start hiring: https://www.talentlift.ca/engage/start-hiring/


With the support of the Scotiabank ScotiaRISE initiative, TalentLift has built a talent platform for displaced job seekers to self-register, develop job-readiness, and connect to transformative job and relocation opportunities to Canada. Learn more.

Ontario gains a CNC Machinist from refugee circumstances in Libya

“It gave me an opportunity that I’d never dreamed of,” Mulham said, about the job that brought him to Canada a few months ago. 

Mulham is a talented carpenter from Syria who’s working as a CNC Machinist with a high-end furniture manufacturer in Ontario. He’s two months into his job and already performing as a core part of the creative team, relieving some pressure for a business and sector with an extreme shortage in skilled tradespeople. 

Mulham was living as a refugee in Libya when he got the Canadian job offer with the support of TalentLift. He told his story to our colleagues at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) who helped at key points during the visa process – a critical support because Canada doesn’t have an embassy presence in Libya.

In a video story before he left, Mulham talks about what he’s looking forward to: Working in his field, being able to send his children to school, and the peace of a secure present and future. 

“I will have stability in Canada,” he said. 

Teams across Canada can have this remarkable impact of providing a secure future while gaining a critical skill set. TalentLift partners with UNHCR and NGOs globally to reach talented job-seekers in displacement like Mulham. Your next great hire might be one of them. 

Start hiring: https://www.talentlift.ca/engage/start-hiring/ 

Read more about Mulham’s story: https://www.talentlift.ca/scotiarise-invests-400000-in-talentlift-to-help-job-seekers-in-refugee-circumstances-find-work-and-settle-in-canada/ 

Start meeting job-seekers in refugee circumstances globally

Dilruba, a Nurse pictured above, arrived in St. John’s a few weeks ago. She joined the team at a long-term care facility in a region facing an acute shortage of healthcare professionals. Dilruba is working again in her field, which has been her dream since she left Afghanistan for her safety and sought refuge in India. She said her first day at work was “absolutely amazing.” 

Teams across Canada are supporting talented job-seekers like Dilruba to relocate alongside their families and rebuild their careers.

Companies recruiting with TalentLift have hired Software Developers, Bakers, Carpenters, Personal Care Attendants, Cooks, Long-Haul Truck Drivers, Sales Managers, and Engineers, among others. For these candidates, a job and relocation opportunity is transformative.

This deeply impactful way to hire can’t grow quickly enough. 

There are more than 100 million people living in refugee or displaced situations around the world, and they’re often living in countries where they don’t have basic rights. One of our candidates, a highly skilled Nurse from Iraq, is working 12-hour days in a plastics factory in his current host country where he has temporary status and can’t even leave his city without government permission. Another, a Fullstack Developer (who just got hired by a firm in Waterloo!) who’s Rohingya and from Myanmar, doesn’t have a single piece of official ID from either his country of birth or temporary host country. 

We work with professionals who can’t open bank accounts, can’t send their kids to school, and can’t lawfully work in their field – though many do, and take the lower pay and other insecurity that comes with it.

And yet, these same people find ways to stay current and grow, by taking courses in their in-between hours, by learning new languages, by volunteering in their communities, and much more. 

Each personal story we hear from our candidates has threads of incredible perseverance, adaptability and ingenuity. 

These are people you want on your team. Start hiring with us and meet them.  

Our funders and partners, including Scotiabank and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), make our mission possible. We are grateful for their partnership. 

The optimism of skills-based mobility greets UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi in Toronto

Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Barb Mason, Group Head and Chief Human Resources Officer, Scotiabank.
Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Barb Mason, Group Head and Chief Human Resources Officer, Scotiabank.

Durid is a Maintenance Technician and he and his spouse are working in a Southern Ontario community where their skills are in high demand, and where their daughter can go to school. Anas is a Software Engineer on a Waterloo-based team that has grown four times in size during the pandemic. Kinaz will soon relocate to British Columbia to join a healthcare employer providing critical in-home care. All three were displaced from their homes and careers due to conflict before getting jobs and pursuing skilled visas to Canada. 

These are stories that fill you with optimism, said Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, at a meeting in Toronto with Durid, Anas, Kinaz and three pioneering companies – ApplyBoard, Ice River Sustainable Solutions, and Scotiabank – behind a skills-based solution to displacement.

The scale of displacement today is unprecedented since the end of the Second World War. There were more than 26 million people living as refugees globally in 2021, before the fall of Kabul to the Taliban in August and the recent invasion of Ukraine.

Traditional solutions including humanitarian resettlement are essential but inadequate on their own to respond. Additional solutions are needed. Job-backed skilled visa opportunities hold immense promise – including potential to scale. 

Below are highlights from a discussion with High Commissioner Grandi on the promise of this solution. 

A bridge to opportunities

Anas relocated to Canada to join ApplyBoard after the team partnered with TalentLift to find software engineering talent. On his own, when he was living as a refugee in Lebanon, Anas couldn’t get traction in his international job search. It was a challenge getting a foot in the door, and there were other daily problems to face like electricity outages, a plummeting currency, and insecure status in the country. Kinaz faced similar challenges and long working days with little time beyond work and sleep. 

“You don’t have stability in your life that lets you focus on your long-term goals,” Anas said. 

He said the bridge between companies and candidates in displacement needs to widen. Organizations like TalentLift and our partner Talent Beyond Boundaries are part of that important infrastructure.

“I didn’t believe it.” 

When Durid got a call that the manufacturer Ice River Sustainable Solutions wanted to interview him, “I didn’t believe it.” After the interview, when he learned they wanted to hire him, “I still didn’t believe it,” he laughed. As awareness grows among the many thousands of talented people who could use their skills as a pathway out of displacement, more people can start believing it. 

Nearly one million vacancies

There were 915,500 open positions across Canada at the end of 2021. This is the opportunity space for connecting talented candidates in refugee circumstances with the teams and communities that need their skills.

International recruitment is a solution that is not just about workforce needs today but “understanding where the demand is going to be,” said Barb Mason, Group Head and Chief Human Resources Officer, Scotiabank. It’s an investment with enormous payoff for new employees, their families, and the Canadian economy. 

Room to improve: Speed is key

Canada is among a handful of countries pioneering ways to make international recruitment and skilled visas work better for talented people living in refugee circumstances. Equity-based flexibility, like recognizing expired passports and loans instead of savings, is significantly deepening access. But further change is needed to ensure companies can recruit and relocate displaced talent with ease and speed.

The visa timeline remains a challenge, said Jordan Ingster, Senior Legal Advisor with Ice River Sustainable Solutions, which saw demand and operations expand even through the pandemic. The team hired nine trades professionals who were living as refugees and could hire others. 

“We need to make that pathway quick,” said Dan Weber, Senior Director of Innovation and Strategy with ApplyBoard, which recently grew from a team of 400 to 1,600. “We need talent, how can we get it here?”

For that part, TalentLift is here to help. Interested teams can express interest to become part of this impactful hiring solution. 

A discussion with High Commissioner Grandi hosted by Scotiabank in Toronto.
A discussion with High Commissioner Grandi hosted by Scotiabank in Toronto. 

With the support of the Scotiabank ScotiaRISE initiative, TalentLift has built a talent platform for displaced job seekers to self-register, develop job-readiness, and connect to transformative job and relocation opportunities to Canada. Learn more.

Canada’s swift visa for Ukrainians is open. TalentLift is here to support you.

Canada is welcoming Ukrainians displaced by war through a new and swift visa. Under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET), applicants who are Ukrainian nationals may apply for a visitor visa and open work permit, and then relocate to Canada. 

How it works

This visa pathway is open to any Ukrainian national. Applicants apply online for a visitor visa and have the option to apply for an open work permit which will allow them to work for any employer in Canada. CUAET applicants have the following fees waived: Visa application fee, biometric collection fee, and work permit application fee, among others. The visa allows you to travel in and out of Canada and will be processed on a priority basis. Canada will aim to process complete applications in 14 days. 

How TalentLift can support you

TalentLift is ready to assist anyone wishing to rebuild their career and livelihood in Canada. 

We invite Ukrainians interested in pursuing work and relocation to Canada to register with us. If you are eligible, and are displaced by the war, our team will work with you and your family at no cost to seek employment in Canada, to apply for this visa, and to relocate. We will prepare a transition plan to permanent residence to ensure you have a secure future in Canada.

We will support you and your family each step of the way to relocate and begin to rebuild.

Employers wishing to hire can express their interest here: https://www.talentlift.ca/ukraine/

Webinar: Diversify to Include Top Tech Talent from Refugee Sources

Innovative Canadian tech companies are recruiting from the immense tech talent in refugee populations worldwide. Learn about this growing opportunity from the executives of leading companies, and the transformative impacts for candidates and the teams welcoming them to Canada.

Canadian tech companies have an enormous opportunity to lead the world in recruiting from an underleveraged talent pool of tech candidates living as refugees globally. This win-win recruitment initiative helps companies find and retain essential tech skills outside of stretched local markets, while enabling new employees and their families to relocate to Canada and leave refugee circumstances behind.

Join this webinar to hear Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser discuss Canada’s vision to scale this critical solution. Learn firsthand from executives of companies pioneering this transformative hiring initiative – Martin Basiri, CEO of ApplyBoard and Tia Fomenoff, Senior Director of People and Culture with Thinkific – and the gains they see for their teams and culture. We’ll also hear from Anas Jamous on his experience recently relocating to Canada from displacement for a job as a Software Engineer with ApplyBoard.

This webinar is for business leaders with interest in exploring the potential of this impactful model in their companies. The session is hosted by the Tech Talent Welcome Council, a grassroots and growing community of tech teams recruiting displaced talent, alongside TalentLift and CEO-P2P. This movement is just beginning – the Canadian Government aims to support at least 2,000 people to relocate from displacement for jobs in Canada.

We look forward to having you join us to learn more!

Time: Feb 15, 2022 12:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Insights from our practice interview volunteers on supporting candidates in refugee circumstances to put their best foot forward

A woman standing in front of a grey background with a lab coat and head scarf, arms crossed, holding a stethoscope.

Job interviews are hard for everyone. Most Canadians tense up just thinking about the mix of preparation, pressure, hope, and uncertainty they entail.

Now, imagine if a job interview could unlock the chance to move yourself and your family from an extremely difficult place to a new home and future in Canada; if this job meant a life-changing relocation. Imagine too that this remote interview will be in your non-native language. Imagine you’re stressed about the regular electricity outages interrupting your call. Imagine your family is listening in because you all live together in a few rooms. Oh, and you’ve never had a formal interview before.

Each week, TalentLift candidates – all talented individuals living as refugees around the world – head into remote interviews with employers across Canada with constraints on their time, preparedness and wellbeing that are difficult to imagine.

Perhaps the best tool we can provide to help them prepare is a connection to a volunteer in Canada who runs through a practice interview. Our volunteers are human resources professionals, or managers and other team members with internal interview experience, who regularly commit their time to helping candidates in refugee circumstances put their best foot forward in a Canadian interview. They spend 30-60 minutes with a candidate in a simulated interview, and then provide verbal and written feedback including tips to improve before the real thing. 

We asked a handful of our volunteers to share reflections on their experiences in these practice interviews with carpenters, nurses, bakers, developers, and other professionals – many of whom have gone on to receive job offers. They shared some incredible insight on the talent, potential, and aspirations of displaced candidates.

Here are some of their insights: 

Interviewers can help build up confidence and comfort

During practice interviews, Praneeta Patil, a human resources professional in Toronto, reminds candidates about their courage and endurance in getting to this point as a way to build their confidence. “It is wonderful to see them gain their confidence throughout the call which is then reflected in little things like their posture and the way they converse,” she said. “Many of the candidates who are otherwise great at their work just require that boost of confidence.”

During the real thing, interviewers can also help put candidates at ease with smiling, small talk and an explanation of the interview (including what the interviewer wants to learn) at the outset. These techniques can help lower stress and encourage comfort with the interviewer.

Interviewers can avoid testing cultural context by being more aware of differences

Shawn Patterson is an engineering manager in Waterloo and has been struck by differences in team structure. Some candidates have worked in companies around the world that are “very traditional in structure, very hierarchical, so they aren’t used to having an opinion on how teams communicate across the company.” In these workplaces, people “take the work and execute on it” while companies more typical of the Canadian tech scene “are very flat in nature where anyone can really bring up any concern and interact with any team.” 

Being mindful of this contextual difference can help hiring managers probe aptitude rather than experience within a specific cultural setting. See a guide on redesigning the tech hiring process to include displaced talent for more on how to test skills like problem-solving instead of cultural context.

Jane Duffy, a human resources professional in Toronto, identified some additional qualities to keep an eye on in this talent pool: “Give pause and reflect on the candidate you are interviewing. They are likely estranged from their home country and living in very challenging circumstances. This makes them strong, resilient and nimble – all wonderful qualities to have in an employee.”

Interviewers can make simple adjustments to account for differences when interviewing displaced candidates

Michelle Arnold, a policy manager in Toronto, suggested a no-surprises approach: “I’d encourage hiring managers to provide as much information about what they’re looking for to the candidates as possible. These candidates are often living in stressful situations and may or may not be familiar with Canadian industry terms and trends – the focus should be on trying to get a sense of their skills and their capacity and willingness to learn.” Unexpected questions that put someone on the spot usually aren’t the best way to understand skills and potential. 

Praneeta emphasized the importance of overcoming communication barriers. In Praneeta’s experience, “English is not their first language. Many of the candidates listen to a question in English, translate it in their minds to their language, think of an answer in their own language and then translate it to English. Please be patient while they answer.” Shawn too advised care with communication: “Make sure your questions are clear and easy to understand so you get the best response possible from the candidate. If you don’t get the answer you are looking for, it can sometimes be language related so try and ask the question again, in different words. This will help give the candidate the best chance to succeed.”

Candidates can follow these recurring tips

Understand the question. Shawn said, “listen to the question carefully, and ask for clarification when needed before answering. Feel free to take the time you need to come up with a good response.”

Explain why you want to work with this team. Michelle advised, “be specific about why you are interested in working for a particular employer and make clear connections between past work experience and the requirements of the job.” This will help demonstrate that you came prepared and that you appreciate ways that this team and company are unique.  

Be confident. Praneeta said candidates “could be hesitant while talking about their work and often undersell themselves and their achievements.” She emphasized that it’s OK to talk proudly about your work. 

Have good eye contact and smile. “Interviews can be nerve-wracking and this is especially true when interviewing for a role in a different country and language,” Jane said. But these small things help people connect and appreciate the human side of each other. 

Learning and personal growth is a two-way street

As much as they teach and support others, volunteers explained that they take away big personal lessons and value too.  

“Every individual I interview has their own story and is fighting to overcome their own unique struggles and I have nothing but respect for them,” Praneeta said. “I was extremely moved by their strength, fierce zest for life and the willingness to strive and overcome.”

“Hearing how excited candidates are to build a life and career for themselves in Canada has been surprisingly meaningful,” Michelle said. “In one of my interviews, the candidate was talking about all the research she’d done on the city that she was applying to work in, from the geographical characteristics, to the population size, to the major industries and it made me so excited and hopeful about the possibility of having someone that passionate about Canada contribute their skills here.”

Michelle added, “it’s also just really wonderful to talk to passionate, interesting people who are embarking on major shifts in their lives.”

Are you interested in volunteering? TalentLift welcomes new volunteers for practice interview sessions with candidates, with an ideal time commitment of one or two practice sessions each month. Please register your interest here: https://www.talentlift.ca/volunteer-signup/