Application and Interview Tips
To be in the running for a job you will need to submit an application or an expression of interest. The application will ask you to provide some details about who you are, a resume documenting your work history, and the contact details of referees who can verify your claims.
The application will also generally ask you to respond to selection criteria—the skills, knowledge and expertise needed for the role. The selection criteria will be clearly spelled out in the recruitment pack. Some common examples of selection criteria include:
- demonstrated capacity to communicate effectively, including sound negotiation skills
- good organisational and administrative skills
- proven ability to work as part of a team. Supervisory roles may have a focus on leading and developing others
- well-developed customer service skills
- proven ability to manage projects.
The application might ask you to respond to each selection criteria separately or you may need to incorporate them into a two to three page expression of interest. Answers to the selection criteria should provide examples of what you have done that demonstrate how you meet the qualities, knowledge and skills being asked for. Use examples from other jobs, experience gained outside work such as community volunteering, or from your formal studies.
The STAR model is a good way of presenting information against selection criteria. For each criterion think about the following and use these points to form sentences:
Situation—Set the context by describing the circumstance or situation.
Task—What was your role?
Actions—What did you do and how did you do it?
Results—What did you achieve? What was the end result?
For more information about writing your application, see Cracking the Code.
Other top tips
- If you are required to complete an online application, it's a good idea to register and create your profile straight away - that way you'll get reminders as the closing date approaches, and you won't have to go search online for the job again.
- It's a good idea to write your application in a Word document first, and then copy and paste your final version into the online application - this will ensure that if there are any technical difficulties with the site you won't lose the work you've done.
- Ensure you have read and understood the recruitment pack. The pack is designed to give you a clear picture about the job and key responsibilities.
- Ensure you have written about each of the selection criteria and that your responses are relevant to the criterion you are writing about. You response should clearly show how your skills and experience meet the key selection criteria.
- Check that your resume highlights the skills and capabilities you have. Emphasise the skills and experience that relate to the role you are applying for.
- Most applications are now completed online. Make sure you have completed every section otherwise your application may not be accepted.
- Double check everything before you submit. This includes spelling, punctuation and grammar. A few typos could be enough to rule your application out if there are lots of applications.
- Contact your referees before you submit the application. You need to be sure they are able to verify the statements you have made in your application.
Congratulations! Your application has been assessed and the agency wants to interview you. Using the selection criteria as a guide, you may be asked a range of questions to demonstrate your skills and abilities. These could include behavioural-based questions, and hypothetical scenario questions. A behavioural question is just a way of saying the question is based on showcasing your skills through previous work history. A hypothetical question is generally aimed at seeing how you identify problems and how you deal with them. In addition to the interview, you may also be asked to do exercises such as:
- a work sample test; usually a written exercise,
- developing and delivering a presentation,
- psychometric testing, or
- a group exercise.
Remember that each of the assessment activities will relate to the selection criteria so use them to guide what you do.
It's important to properly prepare for your interview. Some tips include:
- Research what the agency does in more detail. Have a look through their website and key documents such as their most recent annual report.
- Prepare examples from your work history which relate to the selection criteria. Remember you can also use examples from volunteering, community activities and school—the important thing is to try and stick to the most recent examples.
- Practice by doing a mock interview using the selection criteria to think up possible questions. Get your friends, parents or even a job service provider to help you come up with examples.
- When you provide examples to demonstrate your skills, make sure you clearly discuss what your role was. Remember the STAR framework as this will help structure your response.
- Get organised and put together an interview pack which contains your application, referee details, list of examples, any research you may wish to refer to and any questions you may have of the panel.
- Don't rush your response. Think about each question and get clear in your head about what you want to say. If you lose your place, pause and gather your thoughts and start again.
- Be prepared to talk about your career interests and how they align with the job you've applied for.
- Identify and be prepared to talk about the skills you may need to improve on. Perhaps the job will give you the opportunity to develop your written and analytical skills, which may be an important step in achieving career goals.