Our Top Federal Government Interview Tips

March 2021 (8)

As a leading supplier to Australian Government clients, Chandler Macleod understands the Australian Public Services (APS) recruitment requirements including their principles, policies and ethics.

We understand that Merit is a fundamental element of employment and is underpinned by legislation, and that merit-based decisions are required, at a minimum, to be based on an assessment of a person’s work-related qualities and the work-related qualities required for efficient and effective organisational performance.

Here are a few points to help you achieve a successful interview within the public service:

Before the interview

Do some study and research, but not too much that you don’t allow for your authentic self and knowledge to shine.

  • Review the job requirements as well as your job application

  • Study by looking into the agency or department that you are applying for. On this specifically, the following items are important and will likely come up in some way during the interview.

  • What are their goals or objects for the year? TIP: Research their corporate plan.

  • How can you make a difference working for that agency or department?

  • How will where you work now, make a difference to them?

  • Read over the ILS (Integrated Leadership System) by the APSC here. The ILS framework was developed by the Australian Public Service Commission to support the building and sustaining of strong APS wide leadership. Using the core capabilities and the foundation of the ILS framework is a great tool to studying and assist to answering different style questions.

  • Take time to practice some behavioural and scenario questions. Use different examples other than what you have written in your duty statement/selection criteria.

  • Make sure to make note of questions you could ask off the back of the information you’ve learnt. Not only is it great to engage and ask the interviewer things but it can also be a sly way to show off your knowledge.

Day of the interview

The day of your interview is now here. You’ve done your research and you’re feeling prepared. You may feel a little nervous too, but not to worry. Take a moment. STOP. BREATH. REFOCUS.

Whether you are new to the public service or applying for the next level up, it’s important to remember that you have passed the most challenging part of the job application process. The Panel will have most likely received and screened hundreds, if not thousands of applicants and you have been selected to interview.

What is the next step?

First things first, stay hydrated and make sure you don’t stay up the night before worrying about your interview performance the next day! Being well rested and confident is a priority.

Our top tips include:

  • Dress professionally

  • Arrive at least 10-15 minutes early

  • Don’t be intimidated with how many people are interviewing, A Federal Government interview panel generally compromises of 2-4 public employees including the job supervisor for that area. Try to establish rapport individually where possible, keep reasonable eye contact with all members, and be sure to answer specific technical or strategic questions accurately as there will be a breadth of expertise present.

  • Answer like a STAR, this means;

    Situation – when, what role were you in?
    Task – what was the problem, issue or responsibility?
    Action – what specific actions or steps you took?
    Result – highlight outcomes achieved

  • Ask questions. This will demonstrate your preparedness, some systematic thinking and will imply enthusiasm and career motivation. An interview is also a two-way street. You must also determine through your questions whether that relevant federal department or agency will give you the opportunity for the growth and development you are looking for.

  • End on a positive! Thank the interviewer for their time and the opportunity.

Some extra tools that could be useful for you include:

APSC: The Interview Cracking the Code – here
APSC: Work Level Standards - here

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