How to ace your graduate assessment centre

Graduate assessment centres are designed to showcase your skills and assess you capabilities. Here are some tips to help you perform well in your virtual assessment centre.
Illustration of two graduates in frot of a white board showcasing their qualifications.

Our graduate development program is now open.

If you’re through to the next stage of our graduate recruitment process, congratulations!

Your next step is to show us your skills and capabilities in action at our virtual assessment centre. This half-day session will consist of 2 activities:

  • behavioral interview
  • group exercise

These activities are your chance to shine. We’re looking to see how well you communicate, research, analyse and work in a team in different situations.

Here are some tips to help you prepare and perform well during each assessment centre activity.

Before the virtual assessment centre

  • Do your research. What do you know about our department and priorities? Have you checked out any of our initiatives to grow the economy, support science and business or regulate industry? You don’t need to do tons of research or have experience in government. Just be prepared to talk about what interests you and ask informed questions on the day.
  • Let us know if you need reasonable adjustments. We can provide equipment or support to help you attend an interview or complete an assessment task. This may include additional time to complete assessments or an interpreter. Contact the employment programs team on to discuss what options may be available.
  • Dress professionally. Business attire is appropriate, although it doesn’t need to be too formal. You don’t have to come in a 3-piece suit to come across as professional!
  • Plan your environment. Familiarise yourself with the virtual login details and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Ensure that your computer set up is suitable for a virtual assessment centre and that you have access to a reliable internet connection. You will also need to have audio and video capabilities.

The virtual interview

  • Be friendly and polite. As a potential Australian Public Service employee, we expect you to treat everyone with respect and courtesy, from the panel to your fellow candidates.
  • Compose yourself. Take a moment before the interview to focus and reflect. If you are nervous take a few deep breaths.
  • Address the whole panel. Your interview panel will consist of 2 to 3 members comprising of 2 departmental employees and possibly a scribe.
  • Demonstrate your capabilities with examples.The panel will ask behavioral interview questions to understand how you have or would act in relevant situations. Use the STAR method to structure your responses:
    • Situation: Explain the situation in enough detail so the panel understands.
    • Task: Describe the task you needed to perform, including the goal you worked towards to accomplish the task.
    • Action: Describe the specific actions you took and contributions you made to accomplish the task. The panel will be looking to hear the part you personally had in the task.
    • Result: Describe the outcome of your actions in relation to the task. The panel will be looking for what happened, what you and the team accomplished and what you learnt from the experience.
  • Check understanding. If you need clarification on a question, don’t hesitate to ask. You may also like to check with the panel if you’ve provided enough detail in your responses.
  • Be aware of body language even though it’s a virtual interview. Show us that you’re giving your full attention by maintaining eye contact, nodding and smiling.
  • Feel free to take notes during the interview, however please ensure you discard them appropriately. You can also prepare notes to help you answer key questions. Panel members will also take notes. So if they break eye contact, don’t worry, they’re still listening.

The virtual group exercise

  • Contribute in group discussions. We will assess your impact and influence when working in a team. You will receive source material to get you across the issue being discussed and help you voice your ideas.
  • Listen to your peers. Good collaboration requires a respectful space for people to share their views. Ask questions and be open to other people’s input and ideas.
  • Be respectful to other candidates. The assessors will be looking for individuals who don’t dominate discussion, make rude comments or interrupt others.

After the virtual assessment centre

  • Respect confidentiality. The information you learn during the assessment centre is for your benefit only. Do not share interview questions, activities or other details with your friends or on social media. We strive to offer a fair process for all our candidates.
  • Don’t stress! It’s all over and be confident that you performed at your best. If you feel like you blew it, treat it as a learning opportunity. You’ll be able to approach interviews differently next time.
  • Give your referees a heads up. The next stage is contacting referees, so let them know you’ve nominated them!

Read more

Read more about the Graduate Development Program

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