Common Questions About Government Job Applications

How long should my selection criteria answers be?

My deadline is approaching, how do I get my application written fast?

Do you have any tips on making my selection criteria examples stand out above the other applicants?

Should my statements addressing the KSC be a separate document, or included in my cover letter or resume?

How are KSC assessed?

Can I get someone else to write my criteria for me?

Can I use dot points when writing my statements against selection criteria?

I recently heard that selection criteria in a written application are marked, or scored, and the highest ones get the interview. Is this right?

I'm going to be applying for a job that I'm acting in. Do you have any tips for people in my situation?

Are government interviews always panel interviews or could it be a one on one interview?

How do I know if a government agency is commonwealth, state or local?

Can I use dot points when writing my statements against selection criteria?

Can I use dot points when writing my statements against selection criteria?

Yes you can.  But you should be careful how you use dot points (also known as bullet points).  If you are simply listing things that you have done or can do, dot points might lead to your undoing.

Remember, selection panels don’t just want to know the activities you have performed for your employer, they want to know what you have delivered to your employer.  They want to know the how, why and when, not just the what.

If you can do this and use dot points to make your selection criteria easier to read or more logical for the selection panel to follow, that's great. But as a guide, don’t sacrifice a narrative description of your knowledge, skills and abilities for dot points; lazy writers often use dot points because it is easier to list something than to write about it in more detail.  While dot points can be good tools to use in an application, it is interesting to note that a study a few years ago of 103 government job applications found none of those who were chosen for an interview contained bullet or dot points in their statements against the selection criteria.

I recently heard that selection criteria in a written application are marked, or scored, and the highest ones get the interview. Is this right?



Sometimes. Not in most cases. Yes and no.

This is a tricky question to answer because all government departments will differ ever so slightly in how they recruit and even selection panels within an organisation will be slightly different in how they do things. So I will give you an answer based on my experience as a government recruiter.

I have heard of a very small proportion of selection criteria being marked or scored and it is generally discouraged by HR and Recruitment departments because it is a limiting selection tool. If there are a large number of highly competitive applicants then a more robust approach to shortlisting, such as 'marking' might be used.  But, as a general rule applicants are selected for an interview based on a discussion amongst the selection panel about the person who has submitted the strongest overall claims for the position, based on the selection criteria for the position. Research has shown that allocating marks to an applicant is not an effective selection tool for finding the right person for the job.

Selection panels are required to consider all evidence that is presented to them, so this includes an assessment of all the information provided in the application form, cover letter, resume and statements addressing the selection criteria and sometimes reference checks ... not just the statements addressing the selection criteria.

I'm going to be applying for a job that I'm acting in. Do you have any tips for people in my situation?


Answer: Yes I do! When I see applicants who are acting in the job fail to get an interview, or fail to get the job, it usually comes down to a few common factors.

    They are over-confident.
    They have not prepared properly.
    They have not put in as much effort as the other applicants.
    They are relying on relationships (with their manager or the selection panel) to get them the job, rather than merit.

Here are a few tips to help you overcome this.

Do not assume the position is yours.  Over confidence will work against you, not for you.  Approach your how application as you would for any other position.

Do not assume you will get an interview.  Your application will be judged alongside all other applications.  Already having a presence in a position does not guarantee you an interview.

Do not assume that you will do well in the interview.  Put as much focus and effort into preparing for the interview as you would for any other position.  Just because the panel may know you and the role does not imply a successful interview.

During the interview, do not assume that the panel know who you are and what you do.  Present your claims as if you don’t know them, and they don’t know you.  This is especially the case if there is an independent member on the panel.  Speak to all panel members equally, and do not bring up private jokes or other information with the panel members that you know.

Do not assume that you are the best person for the job.  Just because you have been acting in the position does not mean that you are doing a good job of it, and it does not mean that there is someone out there who can’t do a better job than you.

Are government interviews always panel interviews or could it be a one on one interview?


Answer: 99.9% of government interviews will be in a panel format. The average government interview has three panel members, so you can pretty much count on having three others present at your interview. There are a few exceptions though, and reasons why there may only be one interviewer.  If you are applying through an agency for example, there will most likely only be one interviewer at your initial interview. And if you are attending a second or third interview, this may be with the recruitment Delegate (the ultimate decision maker) who is wanting to confirm or clarify some information before signing off on the report that the selection panel have submitted.

How do I know if a government agency is commonwealth, state or local?

Fantastic question!  It’s not always that obvious is it? A quick and easy way to find out is by looking at their website address; do a quick web search if you don’t have the www address.

If the web address just ends in .gov.au then it is generally a commonwealth government department.  For example, www.defence.gov.au  or www.ato.gov.au

If the web address ends in .state.gov.au then it is generally a state government department.  For example, www.xxx.vic.gov.au or www.xxx.qld.gov.au

Local government websites addresses are usually formatted councilname.state.gov.au  So if you are looking at a state.gov.au address and aren’t sure if it is a state government department or local council, the homepage will always tell you if it is a council.  For example, www.monash.vic.gov.au is the website for the Monash City Council in Victoria.

Use Our Free Examples


Download our free selection criteria examples below.


Free selection criteria examples

More Help With Your Job Application:


Our top 5 selection criteria

Your government job application at a glance

What to expect at a government interview