What to prepare for your APS interview

What to prepare for your APS interview

Although each APS interview is different, every employer looks for the same thing – someone who suits their organisational culture and the role they are hiring for. Interviews can be daunting, but preparing thoroughly can alleviate nerves and boost your chances of impressing the interview panel.

  1. Research the Department

Look at the Department’s webpage and learn about their core values, people, and the type of image the Department would like to portray. This is important because your personality needs to align with the culture and values of the Department for you to be a good fit for each other (Hardavella et al, 2016).

Read the Department’s most recent Annual Report and/or Corporate Plan to get a feel for some of the major items they’re working on. Being able to refer to these documents at your interview never hurts! It demonstrates research skills and initiative as well as a genuine interest in the Department specifically.

  1. Plan your answer to then icebreaker question

Most interviews will include an icebreaker question, such as “tell us about yourself and why you are interested in the role” (Zigmond, 2010). These questions are an opportunity for you to establish rapport with your interviewers, highlight your most relevant skills, and make an opening statement on why you are the best person for the role. Do NOT just recite your CV, and make sure you can identify a more compelling motivation for applying than simply “I’m looking for a promotion”.

  1. Prepare examples

Employers are looking for certain key attributes and relevant experience. Workplaces are looking for team players who have excellent communication skills, can lead when necessary, and are professional (Hoffman & Tadelis, 2021). Preparing examples from your work experience will support you in showcasing such strengths.

To get started, we suggest thinking of (and writing down) specific anecdotes that prove your ability to:

  • solve problems or deliver outcomes in challenging circumstances;
  • deal with difficult people (colleagues, customers, or other stakeholders);
  • work as part of a team and build productive relationships; and
  • manage competing priorities.
  1. Master the STAR method

Practising the STAR method will help to stay on topic and provide clear, well-structured responses to interview questions. Do not underestimate how much government panels like the STAR method!

Check out our separate blog post for a detailed explanation of how you might answer a question using the STAR format.

  1. Practise talking through your examples

Time yourself and practise with a friend or family member who can give you feedback. They don’t need to be recruitment experts to be able to tell you whether you explained your example clearly or relied on any assumed knowledge.

Make sure it is clear what YOU did. If you say “we spoke to the stakeholder” and “we came up with a solution”, the panel won’t know whether you actually achieved something impressive, or whether you just happened to be in the room while other people solved the problem.

  1. Questions for the panel

At the end of the interview most panels will ask you if there is anything else you would like to add or ask. This is your opportunity to make a final statement that highlights things that you want the interview panel to remember about you. You may like to further demonstrate various abilities, including technical skills, relevant knowledge, and competence to perform well in the advertised role (Robles, 2012).

Feel free to ask the panel any questions you have about the role, but make sure this information wasn’t already provided in the job ad or position description, and don’t start interviewing the panel – they usually don’t love that.

  1. Other things to consider

Check out our other blog posts about power colours, mental imagery, power poses and the Chameleon Effect for more advice on preparing to nail your interview. Our wonderful recruiters are happy to help if you have any further questions or need a pep talk prior to your interview. You got this!


Hardavella, G, Gagnat, A, Xhamalaj, D, & Saad, N 2016, ‘How to prepare for an interview’. Breathe (Lausanne, Switzerland), vol. 12, no.3, pp. e86–e90. https://doi.org/10.1183/20734735.013716.

Hoffman, M, & Tadelis, S 2021, ‘People Management Skills, Employee Attrition, and Manager Rewards: An Empirical Analysis’. The Journal of Political Economy, vol. 129, no. 1, pp. 243–285. https://doi.org/10.1086/711409.

Robles, M, M 2012. ‘Executive Perceptions of the Top 10 Soft Skills Needed in Today’s Workplace’. Business Communication Quarterly, vol. 75, no.4, pp. 453–465.https://doi.org/10.1177/1080569912460400.

Zigmond, R, H 2008, ‘Ask a Provocative Question to Break the Ice’. College Teaching, vol. 56, no. 3, pp. 154–156. https://doi.org/10.3200/CTCH.56.3.154-156.

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