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Behavioural Interviews

  • Behavioural interviewing in the APS & VPS

The Australian Public Service and many departments within the VPS use behavioural interviewing techniques as a core part of their selection process. If you are applying for an APS or VPS position then you need to understand what this involves.

Behavioural interviews use behavioural interview questions, which focus upon asking you as a candidate to provide specific examples from your past experience of when you have displayed particular qualities or capabilities. The questions are often phrased “Tell us about a time when you ….” or “Give us an example when you ….”. This is quite different phrasing to hypothetical questions, which often are worded “How would you handle …?”

Behavioural questions are designed to collect information about how you have handled similar situations to the situations that you will likely face in the position that you are applying for. The interviewers are looking  for evidence that you have effectively dealt with similar problems and challenges. They want confirmation that you have more than just knowledge of how to do certain things, but instead have actually successfully dealt with them.

For the majority of positions within the public sector, applicants are typically requested to provide concrete examples of when they have displayed certain behaviours or capabilities that are defined within the selection criteria. The key to both a strong application and a good response to a behavioural interview question is to ensure that you are providing a good example that will  incorporate a “STAR”  structure within your response.

The STAR formula includes ….

1. ST – a description of the situation or task or the problem you faced

2. A – description of the actions you took, or the methods you applied to deal with the situation

3. R – describing the results you successfully achieved, or the lesson that you learned (if the outcome was not a good one)

  • Interview skills training in the ATO

I’d like to share with you briefly some of my experience in presenting a series of training courses for the Australian Taxation Office in 2011, to groups of APS 2 – 5 level staff.

The course, “Applying & Presenting for the Job Interview” was designed to shed some light and provide some guidance in

  1. How to prepare an application that properly addresses position selection criteria.
  2. How to prepare for the job interview
  3. How to present at the interview and appear confident

The first pilot course, April 8 was at the ATO Moonee Ponds office, and the second pilot course was on April 11 at the ATO Penrith office. The training was offered to help people learn how they might be able to navigate their way through the APS and public sector selection process.

I have recently delivered similar training in May 2012 for the Department of Justice

  • APS Leadership Capability Framework

A very useful resource site for APS staff is http://www.apsc.gov.au/ils/index.html

The site explains the APS Leadership model that is designed to assist agencies and individuals to address their particular requirements for leadership, management and technical expertise. The five leadership capabilities are ….

  1. Supports strategic direction
  2. Achieves results
  3. Supports productive working relationships
  4. Displays personal drive and integrity
  5. Communicates with influence

The site spells out for each APS and also SES level, the extent to which the leadership capabilities are expected to be displayed by staff applying for these position levels. I would recommend that any APS staff member who is preparing for a job interview familiarise themselves with this leadership framework – and expect that some interview questions will very likely address aspects of these leadership capabilities.

  • Victorian Public Service Career Opportunities

Another very useful resource site that lists vacancies within the Victorian  public sector is located at http://www.careers.vic.gov.au/vacancies/

  • Local Government Job Vacancies

Another level of public sector employment opportunity is in local government, and a useful resource site is located at the Municipal Association of Victoria, which lists links to the “Job Vacancies”  section of the websites of all local councils in Victoria. The link is http://www.mav.asn.au/CA256C2B000B597A/page/Council+Information-Local+Government+Employment-Council+Job+Opportunities?OpenDocument&1=20-Council+Information~&2=30-Local+Government+Employment~&3=20-Council+Job+Opportunities~

One Response

  1. […] if you are working in the APS, you might like to have a look at our Australian Taxation Office  training course page. I have recently been delivering some Application & Interview Skills training for the […]

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