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Many government selection panels will give you 15 – 20 minutes to peruse the questions and think of answers before you meet the interview panel.  Good preparation to anticipate questions (especially examples of achievements to demonstrate your capabilities) will assist to maximise this time. Remember that you can take notes with you into this perusal time.

This is a sample sheet that I give to my clients to help them to prepare for interview.









SHAPES STRATEGIC THINKING  (What are the five key messages  that I must get across in relation to this capability?)






EXAMPLE:  (What is the most relevant example I have to demonstrate this capability –  which shows that I have addressed these 5 points)







































Good Luck preparing for your next interview.



Graduate Recruitment application season is here again. It is pleasing to see the range of strategies that different employers are using to seek out the best talent, who fit with where their organisation is heading. The trend is certainly towards ensuring candidates have researched the employer’s current roles and future challenges.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has just opened its applications (closing 18 April 2011) for a wide range of graduate opportunities (Human Resources, Law , Marketing and Sales, Architecture and Design, Business and Commerce, Accounting, Information Technology, Government).

The ATO application form requires candidates to answer 15 multiple choice questions. The first 12 questions test ability to research and analyse a variety of documents available on the Tax Office website (e.g. Which of the following are listed in the document Compliance program 2010-11 as initiatives and innovations for Small-to-medium enterprises?). The next three questions are about values and code of conduct (You happen to see a colleague hit a parked car while leaving the work car park……? ).

Australia Post’s application process is also open (closing 4 April 2011) and reminds applicants ‘Your application is your “brand”, so make sure you’ve thoroughly checked it for spelling and grammar.’ The application form asks about a candidate’s leadership experience (sports teams, voluntary organisations, etc) and asks the following five questions (with a limit of 100 words per questions).

  • Australia Post’s retail network is one of the biggest in the country, serving over a million people each day. Customers are the lifeblood of our organisation. Tell us about a time when you have met and exceeded the customer’s expectations through the service you have provided?
  •  In an organisation as large and diverse as Australia Post, one great opportunity is to build relationships across several teams. Tell us a time when you were able to encourage others within your workplace to work collaboratively or to support an idea?
  • As a graduate, we’re not only interested in your scores, but in who you are – what you stand for, where you’re going, what you have done in the world and what you would love to do from here. Tell us your career aspirations and areas of interest?
  • It is an exciting time to be at Australia Post as we are currently moving in a new direction with our ‘Future Ready’ strategy. This transformation strategy means that we will have a greater focus on our customers, will be embracing the digital world and more. What skills and attributes do you have which will allow you to successfully contribute to driving Australia Post into this new era?
  •  Tell us why you have ultimately chosen to apply for the Australia Post Graduate Program?

For more ideas on who is advertising for Graduates in Australia try GradConnection, UniGrad, Career One’s Virtual Career Fair, or check out a Career Fair (schedule – most in mid March to early April 2011) in your state.


When you are engaging someone to assist you with the writing of selection criteria, you need to decide if you require a basic or more expert level of support.

The basic level of support includes providing information to a writer, who will then take this information and ensure it is well presented, and in the appropriate format.

If you need more expert assistance, including understanding recruitment processes and selection criteria, you may need to engage the services of a ‘job coach/writer’ with recruitment and human resource experience.  A good job coach will brainstorm with you to find your most complex and relevant examples for the advertised role.

For example, when addressing the criteria/capability ‘personal drive and integrity’, I will ask my clients questions like:

  • When have you enthusiastically attended or organised training in relation to Values, Code of Conduct, Ethics, Respectful (harassment-free and non-discriminatory) Workplaces, Fraud or Conflict of Interest?
  • When have you taken on roles to show your commitment to quality workplaces (e.g. harassment contact officer)?
  • Can you think of a time when you have identified something that needed to be improved in your team, then went and did something about it?
  • Tell me about some times when you have been given a difficult job (lack of staff, tight deadlines, technology problems…..), but stuck at it and achieved a good result?

If the vacancy is a team leadership role, I will be looking for higher-level examples, through questions such as:

  • What have you done to ensure everyone in your team has had the appropriate corporate training? Have you ever introduced a ‘Values’ training session to show your Agency’s commitment to these Values?
  • What do you do in your team meetings to show that you are committed to non-discriminatory workplaces?
  • Have you identified, investigated or worked with corporate service teams to resolve harassment of fraud or code of conduct matters?
  • When have you been selected to undertake a challenging project?

For senior leadership roles, examples that are more significant will be sought through discussing:

  • What have you done to ensure your division/Department has shown leadership in engaging and retaining employees?
  • Where have you identified something that would enhance a new policy initiative and worked across divisions or with other government departments to make this happen?
  • What have you done to build a culture that reinforces appropriate risk-taking, initiative and personal resilience?

Following this brainstorming, it is important to select examples that are most relevant to the advertised role, and to present these concisely within the word limit.

For more tips on addressing selection criteria – please subscribe to this blog (top left corner).

For expert assistance with writing your claims against selection criteria, you can contact me at


The main season for graduate recruitment in Australia is here. I know this because I am starting to get requests for assistance with filling in graduate application forms. Between March and April, many of the large graduate employers are open for graduate applications. Click here to find the closing dates for a number of significant 2011 graduate programs. For example, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade closes on 22nd March, Centrelink on 27th April, and Commonwealth Bank on 7th April. If you want more details about the major graduate employers in Australia, visit Career Fairs or Grad Connection.

To give you some idea of what you will need to address in an application, the following questions are asked in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade graduate application form.

Question 1: Qualifications and knowledge Why are you applying for the Graduate Trainee program in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade? What skills and attributes would you be able to contribute to DFAT’s goals and work? You should give examples based on your academic achievements, work experience and/or extracurricular activities.

Question 2: Written and oral communication skills Provide examples of where your written and oral communication and negotiation skills have been most effective in the workplace or elsewhere. What outcomes were achieved?

Question 3: Conceptual and analytical skills  Describe a situation in which you have had to identify and analyse a problem or issue and then recommend a solution. How did you go about the task? What was the outcome? What constraints did you face in developing the solution?

Question 4: Effective working relations  What makes you an effective team member? How do you respond to problems or conflict within a team? Give an example of how you have contributed to a team’s achievements.

Question 5: Flexibility, adaptability and initiative  Give an example of where you have taken on an unfamiliar task or faced a challenge, whether in the workplace, your studies or extra-curricular activities. Describe how you prepared for and took on that task or challenge. What did you find most difficult about the experience?

If you are applying for a graduate role in the Commonwealth Bank, be prepared to answer the following:

 • Select up to two business unit program preferences. Please tell us why we should consider you for your first preference.

• Please tell us why we should consider you for your second preference.

• Please tell us about the extracurricular activities you have been involved in.

• Why have you chosen the Commonwealth Bank group as a potential future employer?

Why do you think the Commonwealth Bank graduate program aligns with your career goals?

• What does good customer service mean to you?

• Did you attend a Career Fair? Please specify at which Careers Fair you spoke with a Commonwealth Bank representative

• Did you attend a Commonwealth Bank campus presentation? Which campus presentation did you attend?

• Are you a member of a university or industrial society? • What was the main factor that influenced you to apply for the, Commonwealth Bank graduate program?

 Some Tips for completing a Graduate Application Form:

• remember that in these programs employers are not just offering a job. They hope you will grow into one of their future leaders.

 • while employers understand that graduates will apply for a number of organisations, they will be expecting that you are genuinely motivated to work for them. Therefore, you need to research the company or government agency and to make sure you match your achievements, interests and skills to how you can add most value to that employer.

 • it will take time to write good responses for the application form. So set aside quality time, draft your responses in Word, and get someone to proof read your answers before you transfer them across to the online application form.

• start by brainstorming all of your experience, knowledge and achievements – in your studies (individual and group assignments), work, voluntary and community activities. Try to use a different example to highlight your claims for each question.

• talk to people that you respect and get their ideas on what they see as your achievements and strengths. I find that most people overlook significant achievements.

 • it is okay to seek professional help with the writing of responses for your application form, you will not be the only person who does this. However you need to feel that the end result truly represents and matches how you will present to an assessment committee.

• be honest, as the application form is just the start of the selection process. If you overstate your claims you will need to live up to this in the interviews and other assessment processes.

• if you are stuck for the right words to use to fully present your case, you can access free online information, borrow books on selection criteria from the University or Council libraries, or purchase books written about addressing selection criteria. Just make sure that you access contemporary information.

 The good news is that new research by Graduate Careers Australia (GCA) shows 21 per cent of employers will increase the scale of their graduate programs in 2010.

Good luck with your application.

For more tips on answering graduate questions – please subscribe to this blog (top left corner).

For expert assistance with preparing your application you can contact me at  or ph 0403766812

If a candidate gets to the ‘Interview’ stage for a government job, they should expect to be interviewed by a panel (committee) of two or three people. Usually each of the panel members will ask questions and take notes during the interview. Sometimes there will be an extra person in the room who has the role of scribe/selection support. The scribe will take detailed notes throughout the interview. When the candidate has left the interview, the selection panel will discuss responses to the questions and decide how well the candidate meets the selection criteria. The panel may use the notes that the scribe has taken to assist them to recall the candidate’s responses. The scribe will note the panel’s findings and at the end of all of the interviews will draft a Selection Report. The Selection Report details each candidate’s performance against the criteria, and may include a comparison of the most highly ranked candidates.

In some interviews, the scribe has solely a recoding role, and the committee fully details exactly what the scribe is to write. In most cases, the scribe will be a person with considerable HR/recruitment experience, and may provide significant advice and support to the selection committee (especially an inexperienced selection panel).

As the scribe is not directly involved in the interview process, candidates do not need to maintain the same level of eye contact with them as with the selection panel. However, it is important that candidates show appropriate interpersonal skills by greeting and farwelling the scribe politely.


Employers – Please contact me if you need information about how to engage a selection scribe.

ph 0403766812    or 


If you do a Google search you will find many resume and selection criteria writers – all offering different services. The fees differ significantly, and vary according to what services are included (eg amount of personal consultation, number of drafts provided, level of specialisation of the job, turnaround time;  and whether resume, cover letters, selection criteria and interview coaching are purchased at the same time).

You will find providers who advertise that they will provide a resume for $110.  You should ask if the resume writer will help you with the content of your resume – or whether they just reformat your old resume.  At the higher end, prices are advertised at $349 for Early Career, $549 for Mid Career and $749 for Executive resumes.

With selection criteria, it depends on the number of criteria and length of writing required (i.e is one page per criterion required? or two pages only to cover 5 criteria?).  You should anticipate paying somewhere between $150 – $300 per page.  With very specific technical or executive roles, which require a much greater time commitment and expertise of the writer, a quote of up to $2000 is possible.

You will need to provide information to the job coach or writer. Some providers send you a set of questions based on the job and criteria. Others will interview you. Some prepare a first draft and ask you to fill in specific details.

Most providers will ask for payment before the service commences. Unfortunately – the few clients who dont pay, even when happy with the service – drive providers to establish this rule of business.

Would you invest $200 to $2000 to win that dream job? For many the answer is a clear YES.


Do you need someone who understands the Integrated Leadership System (Australian Government)  or Capability Leadership Framework (Queensland Government)?

Contact me at   or 0403766812

Send me your draft resume, and details of any job/s that you are interested in.  Tell me if you need to work on your application (covering letter, resume or selection criteria) or if you need interview practice. I can provide a no obligation free quote.

My specialty is coaching people for job interviews. I enjoy assisting people to win jobs – and would love to hear from you.        Cheryl


For further tips on addressing selection criteria – please subscribe to this blog (top left corner).

I am often asked about how a person can apply for short-term employment with Australian Government Agencies.

Most Agencies have a ‘Non-Ongoing Employment Register’. The details of how to register is published on each Agency’s recruitment website. A person interested in several Agencies will need to submit a different application for each Agency. Some examples of these are, Department of Defence, Australian Bureau of Statistics , Medicare Australia, Attorney-General’s Department, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Commonwealth Ombudsman and National Native Title Tribunal.  

A list of all Australian Government Agencies can be found at the Government On-Line Directory. This site also gives links to State Government Directories. 

For Ex-Employees

Ready Now is a temporary employment register specifically for former employees of the Australian Public Service or similar Commonwealth bodies. Only one registration is necessary to cover all Agencies. 

Employment policy and advice

Employment policy and advice about non-ongoing employment is outlined in Australian Public Service Commission publications.

Permanent Vacancies

Some non-ongoing vacancies are advertised along with permanent opportunities on APS Jobs, which has an Email me Jobs service.

For expert job application or interview coaching, please contact me at or 0403766812

If you are having difficulty with the ‘addressing selection criteria’ process, it might help to know you are not alone. I did a search on Twitter last night using the term ‘selection criteria’. Here is what job candidates were saying:

  • damn selection criteria. maybe writing job apps is easier without the wine  
  • Selection Criteria….yuck! 
  • Aren’t selection criteria’s fun!? 
  • I hate selection criteria. 25 min to write 3 lines. 1 question down, 12 to go 
  • job applications are hard! selection criteria wtf? 
  • Damm selection criteria 
  • Ignoring the last few of those pesky selection criteria. Maybe later this evening. Trying to ignore the nausea. 
  •  ‘essential’ and ‘desirable’ selection criteria – it somehow sounds very erotic… if you changed essential to sensual 
  • Attacking those darned Selection Criteria. First one: High level of reception & communication skills. Can’t I just say “yes” & move on? 
  • Responding to the World’s Largest Selection Criteria with my equally lengthy and wordy supporting statement. 
  • Selection criteria suck I hate writing them 
  •  just did her second selection criteria for one day… aghh!! 
  • Frell me. I HATE Selection Criteria. “Knowlege of public sector financial & administrative legislation.” YUCK. Don’t know what to write. 😦 
  • TEN selection criteria? Are you kidding me? Moreton Bay Council; you’re no ASIO.


For job seekers, the words ‘Selection Criteria’ can often be found in the same sentence as hell, nausea, darned, hate, yuk and you have got to be kidding. Nevertheless, they are here to stay, particularly for publically funded roles. There are many good reasons for employers to use specific criteria, and to assess against these requirements to find the best person for a job.

It is not the principle of selection criteria that brings bile to the throat – the problem is the way that some employers use them to make writing a job application into a very onerous task.

In the pre-November employee shortage, a growing number of public sector employers decided that a tailored resume and brief statement (or answers to questions) were sufficient to screen applicants who should move to the next stage of the selection process. Unfortunately, other employers have persisted in using too many, often repetitive selection criteria; and asking candidates to ‘address selection criteria’ without giving any guidance on the length, depth or format required.

The latter approach may lack courtesy and be an inefficient way to run a competitive selection process. However, it is the current reality for some jobs. Applicants need to learn to effectively tackle the addressing of selection criteria – in whatever format – if they wish to secure what can be a rewarding public sector career. Candidates can get help through books and web guidance, employ a job coach (like me) or hire someone to write their applications.

Share your ideas on what has helped you to ‘address selection criteria’.


Looking for an expert to coach you to write your job application or prepare for the job  interview – contact me at or 0403766812

If you are applying for a job in the Queensland Government, the selection criteria may look like the five below:

  • Supports strategic direction or Shapes strategic thinking
  • Achieves results
  • Supports productive working relationships  or Cultivates productive working relationships
  • Displays personal drive and integrity  or Exemplifies personal drive and integrity
  • Communicates with influence

The Queensland Government has adopted a Capability and Leadership Framework (CLF) which is similar to the Australian Public Service Integrated Leadership System (ILS). This framework outlines the core capabilities and associated behaviours required of public servants at each classification and functional level within the Queensland Public Service. 

The Individual Profiles which describe the capabilities and behavioural indicators required at the different levels are likely to be the most useful part of the CLF, if you are using it to apply for a job.

If you read the whole CLF document, you will find useful tools to support you in assessing your development needs for a public service career.  IPAA Queensland has mapped all of its courses to the five capabilities of the CLF.

Queensland Government jobs and careers are advertised at SmartJobs.

 Looking for an expert to coach you to write your job application or prepare for the job  interview – contact me at or 0403766812


 Posts on selection criteria Shapes Strategic Thinking


Tom Hanneman from Seek writes ‘Requiring candidates to respond to selection criteria may seem like cruel and unusual punishment. But at least everyone is in the same boat. Following these straightforward guidelines may give you the edge you need to get the interview and secure the position.’ You can find his guidance on how to address Selection Criteria on the Seek Site.

After reading this you may still need more help. For about $30, you can purchase e-manuals by Carolyn Smith from Impact Writing Services – The Great Australian Resume and Get In and Get Promoted in the Public Sector. These e-books give more comprehensive tips and templates to assist with public sector resumes and selection criteria.

Click ‘Selection Criteria’ in my Tag Cloud for more blog posts on this topic.

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Employers- Please contact me about doing job application training for groups at your workplace. ph 0403766812 or

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