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APS Interview coaching

By Ringer - 16 November 2011 33

I have been applying for government positions in different agencies over the last year. I’ve made it through to interview stage a few times now, but seem to stumble at this last hurdle.

The interview situation brings me quite unstuck and the whole thing seems to fall to bits. As you can imagine the more often you fail, the more likely you feel you’ll fail the next time round. I feel that I need some professional advice. So, does anyone know any good APS interview coaches in Canberra OR anyone who does phone coaching in other states?

Any suggestions?

What’s Your opinion?


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33 Responses to
APS Interview coaching
rarm9983 4:08 pm 16 Nov 11

Hey there,
There is also the STAR approach. All well and good for you to sit there talking, but they need to grade your response on STAR:
S – Situation
T – Task
A – Action
R – Response

Check out this website for some more information, but the basic premise is, if you are not addressing all 4 elements then you will get graded lower. It is a good technique as well as grading mark tool, try thinking about your examples as STARs.

http://www.apsc.gov.au/publications07/crackingthecodefactsheet5.htm

Good Luck!

Snarky 3:54 pm 16 Nov 11

JessP said :

So Snarky – did you get a job?

If not the advice wasnt so helpful…….

Oh, it wasn’t me going for the positions, it was a family member. And while they have taken some of the advice on board they don’t yet have a new position. I believe that in the last couple they were outgunned by better-qualified candidates, but at least came out of the interviews with their confidence more or less intact. Just gotta keep on tryin’, I guess.

jayskette 3:35 pm 16 Nov 11

devils_advocate: well not really. I’ve been to both types of interviews, they are all the same! in All of them I have to address selection criteria across multiple panels and demonstrate practical experience of “the last time you did blahblah”…

colourful sydney rac 3:26 pm 16 Nov 11

candelabra said :

EvanJames said :

That is weird, it is almost word-for-word.

I thought it looked familiar!

A *adjusts sunglasses* dead ringer as it were.

JessP 3:23 pm 16 Nov 11

So Snarky – did you get a job?

If not the advice wasnt so helpful…….

KB1971 3:14 pm 16 Nov 11

devils_advocate said :

jayskette said :

I don’t understand why people treat APS interviews any differently?

Because they are different – way different – to private sector.

Hell yeah, when I worked as a mechanic if I had a bust up with the boss I used to just pack my tools & go.

The next interview then was:
“You have a trade certificate?”
“Yes”
“You have a toolbox?”
“Yes”
“Start Monday!”

It was easy (except for the job, it was crap, no matter who you worked for), not so easy on the APS.

devils_advocate 2:58 pm 16 Nov 11

jayskette said :

I don’t understand why people treat APS interviews any differently?

Because they are different – way different – to private sector.

candelabra 2:51 pm 16 Nov 11

EvanJames said :

That is weird, it is almost word-for-word.

I thought it looked familiar!

Woody Mann-Caruso 2:41 pm 16 Nov 11

A dead ringer, you might say.

EvanJames 2:12 pm 16 Nov 11

That is weird, it is almost word-for-word.

Postalgeek 2:08 pm 16 Nov 11

Snarky said :

Somehow Ringer I have the strangest feeling that I know you very, very well – your post is almost word-for-word mine from this time last year. Apart from a vague sense of unease about your near-identical wording, I’ll advise you to look at the replies to that thread – there were some good replies

Unless they’re going for the same jobs as you, accept plagiarism as flattery.

Personally I would’ve used the word verbatim.

jayskette 2:06 pm 16 Nov 11

I don’t understand why people treat APS interviews any differently?

Snarky 1:51 pm 16 Nov 11

Somehow Ringer I have the strangest feeling that I know you very, very well – your post is almost word-for-word mine from this time last year. Apart from a vague sense of unease about your near-identical wording, I’ll advise you to look at the replies to that thread – there were some good replies

jonquil14 1:50 pm 16 Nov 11

I have joined RiotACT specifically to comment about this. After a big mess of an interview last year, I now use the following technique:

1. Take the selection criteria you have already written.
2. Come up with an example that shows you can address each one that is different from what you wrote in your original application.
3. Write these alternate examples up on one page.
4. Print off the page and take it with you to the interview.
5. When they ask you questions based on the selection criteria (and they will), refer to the examples you have identified.

Unlike most private sector jobs, a public service interview is not just having a chat with a potential employer to see if you are the right fit/not a reptoid. APS panels have a set of questions based on the selection criteria you have already addressed in written responses. In the interview you need to prove that you can also address them verbally.

There is also a woman called Ann Villiers who has a book called ‘How to Adress Selection Criteria’ which is super. She has a website where you can get most of her tips (google it).

devils_advocate 1:40 pm 16 Nov 11

HI there
I’ve done a LOT of APS interview coaching (not offering my services but some advice). This includes for people with cognitive disabilities but whom did not want to notify an EEO group in the process.

Without knowing the underlying fundamentals (eg the level that you’re applying for an your experience/qualifications) my main advice would be to make the best possible use of the fact that most selection statements rely on fairly generic criteria (ie there’s one on written communication, one on oral, one on people skills, one on managing competing priorities/time management, a generic one about APS values, etc). Once you’ve done say, 3 or 4, a lot of the criteria can be recycled. Ideally, you would write each one from scratch, but I’ve found that so long as its succinct and well written the panel will accept it.

I mention this because it it relevant to the way you prep for interviews. Some interviewers ask really job-specific questions about technical areas that really only people in the department would know about. This (sometimes intentionally) skews the result towards internal applicants. There’s not a great deal you can do about these ones (although they’re not really meant to do this).

When it’s an interview that’s been designed to give externals a chance, the questions are about as generic as the selection criteria. For this reason, I think the best possible interview practice is to attend interviews. Now, depending on what job you’re in, it can get difficult to continually be leaving the office to attend interviews. So if you need to be more selective, then 2 key tips:
-contact the contact person after the interview and ask for feedback on what you could have improved – it’s hard but it’s worth it. You then need to REALLY LISTEN to the feedback and not just dismiss it, and try to improve next time.
-if you need practice speaking, write down some common, open-ended interview questions and give them to someone who you know, but who is NOT a friend (eg your mate’s spouse, their parent, etc). So that it simulates the idea of you explaining things to a stranger. If it’s your friend “interviewing” you it won’t work.
Some examples to get you started:
-what do you think are the key skills for working in a team?
-think of a team you have worked in where there was some conflict. What was the conflict and how did you resolve it?
-How do you employ time management skills to cope with competing priorities and deadlines?
-What do you understand to be the meaning of workplace diversity and do you think it is important? Why?

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