Applying for Government Jobs

Government JobsIf you have not applied for a government job before, it is useful to know how the government differs from the private sector in its approach to hiring.

Because public money is involved, government hirers will always bend over backwards to be sure they can justify their hiring decisions.  They also seek to protect themselves in case any unsuccessful internal candidates later question the process on the grounds of fairness.  This means they will follow their defined process very carefully.  As a candidate, you will have the best chance if you know the process and use it to your advantage.  Here are some pointers:

  •  Get your hands on the position description and study it carefully.  There will usually be a section called “key selection criteria”,  “key capabilities” or similar.  In deciding whom to short list, and at the subsequent interview, it is on these criteria that they will focus.
  • You may get the opportunity to provide written responses to the key selection criteria as part of the application process.  Make the most of this – address the criteria with specific examples from your experience of where you showed the skill or capability being asked for.  This is just as important as your resume in getting short-listed.
  • Expect to be interviewed by a panel, usually consisting of three people of varied genders and backgrounds.  The questions will often be the same for all candidates, and the answers will be recorded so the selection can later be justified.  The questions asked will relate closely to the position description.

The approach may appear formal and is process oriented, but don’t be intimidated by it.   Although there may be an appearance of objectivity, there is always an emotional component to hiring decisions.  Don’t be afraid to let your personality and people skills show in the interview.  Be animated and sparkle as much as possible.  Actually, this paragraph is good advice for any interview!

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