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How’s that for a heavy title, huh? 😀


While it’d be awesome to publish my interview outcome with the glowing result of a job offer, I do like to keep it real here on my blog – even if that means showing you my roller coaster ride.


To give you a little background, July/August were interesting months to say the least.


I was expecting to be back delivering training at the start of July, then BOOM! Covid19 went crazy in Victoria.


Click here to learn about me if you are bouncing into this blog for the first time.


But, to clarify the layers of my work, at present, I’m in this business 3 days a week and am receiving job keeper payments for the training I usually deliver.


My training work involves educating young adults as part of the government’s Youth PaTH program.


With current restrictions in place, however, all training is on hold.


So, where does this interview come in?


Glad you asked…


I wasn’t actively looking. This position was forwarded to me by a contact in my network.


I reviewed the position and it just ticked all the boxes:

✅ Part-time hours

✅ Centrally located

✅ Ideal salary

✅ Combined my current skills

✅ Professional position in a good organisation


The role was for an Education Advisor within Government.


So, I rang and spoke to the contact officer.


After finding out more about the position, I was even more enthusiastic because it was very community-oriented and on a subject matter I cared about.


That sums up how the role came about and why I decided to apply.  Next up, I’m going to walk you through my application and interview.


The position


First up, this is the role I applied for.


Now, some key things I did before applying.


✅ Reviewed the advertisement + the job description

✅ Took note of the closing date

✅ Called the contact officer to gain clarification on the role

✅ Ensured I was able to meet the selection criteria – with specific examples!

✅ Checked the ‘How to apply’ section for specific details on what my application needed


Speaking with the contact officer really helped me to understand what the position was about; it’s focuses, and direction.


It also helped me edit my resume and create a cover letter that spoke directly to the Hiring Manager.


The application


Want to take a sneak peek at my application?


Well without further ado, let’s dive in!

LIsa Resume


The edits I made to my resume included:


✅ Title – note it’s aligned to the advertised position

✅ A few keywords in my summary

✅ I re-organised my ‘Area of Expertise’ to prioritise different keywords

✅ Swapped out some keywords for ones in the Job Description

✅ Tweaked my Key Skills section to include words such as “attendees” and “government departments” as seen in the job description

✅ Added an extra bullet point to my current position to highlight that I work with clients via phone, email, and in-person + refer them to relevant services as noted in the job description.


All of that took me about 15 minutes (tops!).


My cover letter took much more effort.


I used the same formatting and font from my resume but really had to write this from scratch to cover the selection criteria properly.


The cover letter took around an hour to create + about 45 minutes to flesh out my examples for the selection criteria.

Lisa Cover Letter


Some key things to note about the cover letter:


✅ It’s a business letter, therefore the date and address are included

✅ It’s addressed directly to the contact officer, who I know is the Hiring Manager, because I spoke to her. Even though I know this is going via HR.

✅ I’ve kept it to 2-pages as required

✅ I’ve included WHY I want to apply for this position

✅ Each selection criteria have been addressed separately and includes specific examples


Now, having spent a good 2hrs on my application, you can see why ‘spraying’ and ‘praying’ doesn’t work.


I wanted to really ensure this was a solid application to help move to the next stage. That means you have to invest time in your marketing tools.


The interview


A little over a week after the applications closed, I received an email to confirm my attendance for an interview.


I had 1 week to prepare. I know! What a luxury!


Here’s what I decided to wear.


This outfit had strategy to it! I didn’t just pick any old thing out of the closet.


The interview was with 4-panel members, including a Lawyer and HR Manager. It’s also government.


So, I knew, wearing a suit would allow me to fit in with at least 2 of the panel members.


Plus, I could take my jacket off if I wanted to fit in further.


It did (for the record), that’s what they were wearing.


How the interview ran


If you’ve never been for a government interview here in WA. Here’s what happens:

  • You’re told up front who will be on the panel
  • When it’s your interview time, you are taken into a meeting room
  • In that room, you are given the interview questions
  • You then have 15 min to read the questions and write down notes
  • You can then take your notes into the interview
  • The questions all relate to the selection criteria
  • Everyone is asked the same questions


I was advised there were 22 applications for this position, with 6 being selected for interview.


I thought this was a pretty low response rate given the unemployment figures. But there you go 🤷‍♀️


I had completed my interview prep in the week prior to this interview so I had I had a solid idea of the questions they would ask (based on the selection criteria)


In the 15 min reading/writing time it was extremely easy for me to note down key points to say.


Further, this really helped me crack out quality answers during the interview and cover all parts of the questions.


What was I asked?


Nothing I wasn’t expecting! All the questions were clearly derived from the job description requirements.


The panel wanted to know:

  • An example of customer service involving researching a problem and listening skills.
  • What systems I use that would be beneficial to this new role.
  • A time when I had improved a business process.
  • Types of presentations I deliver and an example of a challenge in this area.
  • A challenging workplace situation I had overcome.
  • Types of written communication I send and my key stakeholders.

The only challenge with government interviews is they give nothing away.


You can only base your performance on the following:

  • Did you go for the allocated interview time?
  • Did the panel have to ask or keep asking follow-up questions? (this is generally a red flag)
  • Did you answer all parts of the questions?


For my interview, I can say it went for the allocated time, I answered all questions and there was no follow-up.


If I’m being super critical of performance:

  • There was one question where I had a more relevant example but forgot to use it.
  • When asked “if I had any additional information to add” I should have used this time to sell myself further.


The outcome


It took around 3 weeks to find out the outcome of my interview.


This is normal for Government by the time they go through their approval process.


I did, however, follow-up after 2 weeks.


Simply because I received an email to advise when a decision would be made, and the outcome was delayed beyond the initial projected date.


For this role I was not the recommended applicant; however, I was assessed as suitable and have been placed on the pool for future vacancies over the next 12-months 👏👏👏


Takeaways from this application


I’m totally fine with this outcome. Someone else was clearly a better fit and that’s ok.


I know I put in a solid performance as I’ve been placed in the pool.


So, onward and upward to the next application!

Lisa Mahar Close Up In Office

Hi, I'm Lisa.

Known as a resume master and job search accelerator, I’m obsessed with Barefoot investing, English breakfast tea, and my local Buy Nothing group. What motivates me each day is helping YOU land your next role – all through a successful job search.

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