By Kelly

Last week I started talking through the process of applying for positions in the Australian Public Service Graduate Programs. To recap, I covered some considerations for addressing the selection criteria. I applied to three departments; Department of A, Department of B and Geosciences Australia. All three had selection criteria, with the first two also requiring a written test, then all three a panel interview. In my opinion I did really poorly on the two written tests, partly because I was very used to writing in a different style and partly because I was losing the plot. As far as the interviews go I interviewed really well for two departments and the other SO badly that I actually started laughing part way through…In my defence I had finished writing my thesis at 2am and that particularly interview was at 10am, however even so I was such a loose cannon I’m surprised they didn’t have security escort me out. And herein lies the ‘how not to’ part of the post 🙂

Kelly completing her written assessments, or the equivalent there of.


But lets start with the writing. There is not that much you can do to prepare for the writing task except to look up, and perhaps have handy, examples of public service communiques. For Dept A the task was on-line in the comfort of my study in my underpants. For these assessments, at a set time an email with a link is sent and voila, off you go. I was given ~10 pages of news articles and commentaries on ‘crowd sourcing’ and a mock letter from a Sydney taxi driver complaining that this unregulated practice was affecting his business. For me, this was totally out of left field and so I was really quite stumped of how I was going to respond on behalf of the minister, addressing my poor taxi driver’s concerns. I could have told him my opinion on compound specific isotopes in deep-sea coral as that was where my mind was at, but unfortunately that was not the task. I spent FAR too long analysing the literature I was given, meaning I had to rush the text, which was obvious in the end product*. Actually I ended up googling their help line, inserted the details of said help line and finished by saying if he had any more questions he should contact the department…perhaps they liked the initiative as I still made it to interview. This mind you went an awful lot better than the task at Dept B.

For Debt B, I had to perform the task minutes before the panel interview. (Remembering I’d just finished my thesis and had very little sleep under my belt and next to no preparation!) Dept B asked that I discuss one of their programs, who the relevant stakeholders were, what the government was doing to tackle the problems and how things might be done differently. I had access to the internet and could look up any detail I pleased, however I only had 15 minutes and having forgotten my notes I kind of winged it, badly. All I had to do was not mention the carbon tax as they had JUST announced that it would be repealed. So I went for something safe, an area I actually knew something about: the Great Barrier Reef. I wrote of coral….I wrote of tourism….I wrote of marine parks….of degradation….of ocean acidification…oh my god don’t do it…..of too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere…stop wirting Kelly stop….of the carbon tax! Couldn’t believe it, I swear the hand and mind just weren’t connected and I could not stop myself! And then I realised with seconds to spare that I hadn’t addressed the final question, what could be done differently…and I wrote “how about we don’t repeal the carbon tax?” and hit send. Oh Kelly, really?

Wow, what a way to promote yourself as a team player to your potential employees. Anyway that little faux pas has nothing on how I managed the subsequent interview. But for that fiasco, you’ll have to wait until next week 😉

* On that note, I had a friend have real difficulties getting her letter to upload, so I HIGHLY recommend leaving plenty of time at the end for technical difficulties to be resolved.