Thank you for considering a career with the Department of Home Affairs.
Applications will not be considered if they are submitted outside of the online Recruitment system unless specific arrangements have been stipulated by the Department.
Before you start your application, you need to read the advertised position(s) description and decide if your skills and abilities match the requirements of the job. If you need more information to make this assessment, you can phone the Contact Officer to discuss the position.
You might also want to do other research about us and/or the vacant position. Documents such as the Annual Report and Corporate and Business Plans might be helpful and are available at our libraries, other Australian Public Service (APS) departmental libraries, and also on this website.
Our selection processes are very competitive and selection committees are often dealing with a large number of candidates, especially for vacancies advertised as 'several positions, various divisions and branches'.
The selection process
The selection process will be run by a selection committee that will consist of at least two members:
- the Chair
- an independent committee member from outside the business unit which has the vacancy.
Our selection processes are based on merit. This means that competitive selection processes will be used to assess candidates’ suitability for positions, and that assessment processes will focus on the work-related qualities needed for positions. We are committed to providing good candidate care, for example, by ensuring that candidates understand what is happening throughout the selection process.
In the case of large processes, committees might establish an order of merit from which a number of vacancies might be filled immediately. The order of merit remains valid for 12 months from the date of advertising and can be drawn on to fill any future vacancies that might arise in that time.
In all selection processes we aim to ensure that all candidates are treated in a fair and non-discriminatory manner. Candidates can choose to specify any special requirements they have in relation to the selection process, for example, mobility assistance, visual aids, or signing for hearing impaired candidates.
To apply for a position you must submit your personal details through our online recruitment system. For most positions you will also be asked to submit a written application through the online system. This will require you to answer questions in relation to the selection criteria. In some cases, instead of a written application the next step will be for the selection committee to invite you to undertake a test or to attend an Assessment Centre.
If you are unable to submit your application online, email the recruitment team to make alternative arrangements at
When applying online you need to:
- ensure your email address is current, reliable and accessible
- check the Internet Browser that you use (Internet Explorer) is compatible with the application - the online system is optimised for version 5.0 and above browsers.
The following might also assist you with applying:
- resolve all queries before submitting your application
- do not assume that the panel and delegate know additional information about you
- give a clear picture of your roles and responsibilities in functions and tasks that you have used in your application
- use active and not passive language in your application.
Addressing selection criteria
The Capability Development Framework sets out the core capabilities for all staff and the skills and behaviours required at each classification level (APS 1-APS 6, EL1 and EL2). When addressing the selection criteria you should look at the Capability Development Framework of the advertised vacancy. The selection criteria are based on the six capabilities outlined in the Capability Development Framework.
The statements provided against each of the selection criteria are the most important part of the application (if applicable). In most selection processes this information, together with your resume, will be used to shortlist applicants for further consideration for the vacancy.
The following six selection criteria will be used for all vacancies. They are weighted equally:
- Contributes to ('Shapes' for Executive Level vacancies) strategic thinking
- Achieves results
- Supports ('Cultivates' for Executive Level vacancies) productive working relationships
- Displays ('Exemplifies' for Executive Level vacancies) personal drive and integrity
- Communicates with influence
- Demonstrates professional or technical proficiency.
The selection criteria will be expressed as behaviourally based questions; that is, questions which require you to describe tasks you have undertaken in the past.
Behaviourally based questions are past-oriented and phrased as 'Describe a situation where…', 'Please give an example of …', 'Describe a time when…'. They place emphasis on 'behaviours' rather than 'opinions' or theory, giving a better insight into candidates’ capabilities. These questions have prompts which ask the respondent to use the
STAR approach: that is, describe a
Action that you took, and the
Result you achieved.
In responding to behaviourally-based questions, you should provide a relevant example and answer the questions directly. Do not provide additional information of a more abstract nature (for example on what you know about strategic thinking). Focus instead upon what you have done and achieved, and how. If you have not had extensive work experience you can use non-work examples, for example study, volunteering or community activities. It is important to specify your own role in the examples you give, rather than referring to your team’s achievements. The selection committee needs to know what you have done.
The selection committee can seek validation of your claims from your referee(s).
When addressing the selection criteria make sure:
- you restrict your responses to the character limit specified in the application form
- your answers are focussed and include your experience, abilities and skills
- only include relevant information, outlining your achievements against each particular criterion
- your grammar and spelling are correct, and you have used the correct punctuation
- you use active and not passive language which specifies your role.
Active language: 'I managed the project'
Passive language: 'The job required that the project be managed...'
You can draft your responses in Microsoft Word or another application, then cut and paste the answers into your online application when completed. This approach will enable you to check your spelling and grammar, do a word count, and edit more easily.
Your resume should be attached to the online application form as either a Microsoft Word document (*.doc), a text document (*.txt) or Adobe PDF (*.pdf) file.
If you have not applied for a job in the Australian Public Service before, you might also want to look at the Australian Public Service Commission's publication
Cracking the Code: How to apply for jobs in the Australian Public Service.
You may wish to refer to the
Policy Officer role profile (256KB PDF) when applying for advertised Policy Officer positions.
Preparing your resume
Resumes are not directly assessed as part of the assessment process. They do, however, provide the selection committee with a valuable picture of candidates’ past experiences, skills and qualifications.
Your resume should include the following:
- full name and address
- contact telephone numbers
- educational qualifications including membership of professional organisations
- employment history (include dates, name of employer, position occupied, work area) and a brief outline of the duties undertaken
- names and contact details of two referees (one of who is your current supervisor).
Your resume is attached to the online application form as either a Microsoft Word document (*.doc) or a Macintosh text document (*.txt).
Do not send any attachments such as examples of work, publications or graphics with your application. If you are selected for interview you might want to bring them to the interview.
If you are invited to attend an interview you should advise the selection committee if you have any special needs. Clarify the location of the interview and whether there is public transport or parking nearby.
Where possible, the committee will give shortlisted candidates two working days’ notice of interview details. You are expected to be available for an interview, if required, even if on leave. If you are on leave or absent in the period following the lodgement of your application, provide your contact details. The selection committee will make every attempt to schedule your interview at the least disruptive time. If you are not able to attend in person, a telephone interview might be arranged.
Most interview questions will be behaviourally based, that is, asking for specific examples of your past behaviour in situations similar to those in the advertised position.
The committee could give you the questions to read before the interview. It is a good idea to have a mental or written list of possible examples to use in your responses. These could be the same examples as you used in your written application, but if so, you should elaborate upon that information and provide further insights into what you did.
Structure your responses so that you work through all aspects of the STAR method. The selection committee will usually ask you prompting questions if you do not. The committee might also ask you to elaborate upon aspects of your response.
If you have not heard all of the question, or do not understand what is required, don’t hesitate to ask the committee to repeat the question. You could also take a few seconds to think about your response if necessary – don’t feel rushed. At the end of the interview you can briefly add any points you omitted during the formal questions.
If you are known to the selection committee, do not assume that they know about your work. The selection committee can only assess candidates on the information presented during the selection process.
You might be asked to undertake a work sample test before or after the interview.
Work sample and proprietary tests
If you are invited to undertake a work sample test you should advise the selection committee if you have any special needs.
A work sample test requires you to undertake a task which simulates aspects of the job for which you are applying. Work sample tests have high predictive validity (in other words, are very good at predicting the best candidate for the role) and will enable you to demonstrate your abilities.
Work sample tests might be written tests, verbal tests or practical tests, or a combination of these. Work sample tests could include:
- writing a letter
- drafting a briefing
- summarising an article
- giving an oral presentation
- discussing an issue which you have analysed
- undertaking calculations
- participating in a group discussion
- participating in a role play
- demonstrating computer skills
- interpreting tables, spreadsheets and charts
- designing IT systems
- providing information about a process such as project management.
The committee will select a work sample test which focuses upon key tasks for the role. They will advise you which selection criteria will be assessed by the test. If you are invited to undertake a proprietary test you should advise the selection committee if you have any special needs.
Proprietary tests (often known as psychometric tests or assessment instruments) include verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, abstract reasoning and personality tests. They also include skills tests (such as client service skills), leadership skills and resilience tests. They have high predictive validity. Proprietary tests could be used as the initial shortlisting test or later in the selection process.
You might be asked to complete a proprietary test online or on paper, in a location of your choice or at a supervised location. Some tests are very short while others can take one or more hours. Find a comfortable seat in a quiet location if an online test is used. Try to undertake the test when you are feeling fresh and will not be disturbed. Be sure to read the instructions carefully and be aware of how much time you have.
Complete a proprietary test on your own. Many tests have verification processes to detect whether candidates have completed the test themselves.
If you are invited to attend an assessment centre you should advise the selection committee if you have any special needs.
The activities which might be undertaken at an assessment centre could include:
- role plays
- team exercises
- group discussions
- proprietary tests
- written exercises
- oral presentations.
Assessment centre activities might require a few hours’ attendance or a day or more.
When submitting your application, you should provide the name, location and daytime contact details of at least two referees who can provide comments on your work performance against the selection criteria. It is in your interest to notify any intended referees that you have nominated them.
It is not necessary to provide written referee reports with your application unless the advertisement has requested them. The selection committee could ask for an oral referee report after the interview. It is expected that your current supervisor would be one of your referees.
If you are unable to provide your current supervisor as a referee as this might prejudice your continuing employment, you should discuss this with the Chairperson of the selection panel when called for interview. It is important to remember that a good referee is someone who:
- is familiar with your abilities
- is able to comment on your claims against the selection criteria
- is able to give examples of your work performance from their own observations.