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How to Prepare Your RSD Interview (2)

The purpose of the interview is for the UNHCR to decide if you are a refugee under the 1951 Convention or the extended mandate definition. Here’s some suggestion that you may take in order to prepare your interview with UNHCR;


  • If the interviewer asks you to tell your story, you should tell your story in the order that it happened, and consistently with your statement.
  • It is very important that you always state the truth. Tell your own story, not one someone has said is the “right” story.
  • Provide dates – if you do not know the date, do not make one up. Provide an approximate date, like around early May 2007. If you cannot remember tell them you cannot remember. Make sure any conversions from different calendars (such as the Persian calendar) are correct.
  • Tell the interviewer where things happened – what region, village, or even neighborhood and street. If you are not sure of the exact location, provide an approximate location.
  • Identify who did things to you – how many of them, what were they wearing, did they identify themselves, who do you think they were?
  • Identify how often events occurred – did the event happen only once? If not, how many times did it happen, and during what period of time did it happen?
  • Remember that everything you say in the interview is confidential and the UNHCR will not give the information to any other organizations such as the police. It is important to tell the Case Officer everything about the reasons why you left your country and why you cannot go back, even if you are scared or ashamed. If you feel shy you should ask for help, such as asking for a female case officer.
  • Tell the Case Officer your entire story, even if they do not ask specific questions about some issues. This information may be vital for explaining your fear, and without it the UNHCR may not have enough reason to grant your refugee status.


  • You should ask the interviewer to clarify any questions that you do not understand.
  • UNHCR will be verifying whether your claim is credible and plausible. The interviewer will be testing whether you are telling the truth using available information about the situation in your country. The interviewer will also test your story by asking detailed questions about your statement to make sure whether you are telling the truth, so some of the interviewing may seem tough.
  • The interviewer might ask questions to clarify incomplete or contradictory statements. It is important not to get upset or defensive.  Remain calm and answer the questions.
  • The interviewer will have looked at information about what is happening in your country and might ask you questions to test whether your story is plausible.
  • In providing details to the interviewer, it is important that you be precise. If you are not sure about any facts, you should tell the interviewer why you are not sure.  You should say what you believe the facts are and why you believe that.  It is OK if you cannot remember or are uncertain.
  • You can ask for a break whenever you want one. You should ask for a break if you are tired or upset.


  • If there were important points that you want to clarify or additional information that you want to give, ask for a chance to say it, and tell the interviewer.
  • You should ask the interviewer to read back the important parts of your interview transcript. This is to check that it is accurate – it does not mean that you do not trust the interviewer.
  • If you or the interpreter have written anything on a piece of paper, ask the interviewer to retain a copy of it in the file.
  • You will be given a slip of paper stating when you can expect a decision (this should be within 3 months but may take 6 months or longer).
  • You may be called back for an additional interview, if the interviewer has further questions or needs clarification on parts of your testimony.


  • Write down the names of the interviewer and the interpreter, as well as the time the interview started and when it finished.
  • Write down as many of the interviewer’s questions as you can remember and your answers.
  • Write down any concerns or complaints you may have about the interview.
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