Q: I’m going for a job in the public service next week. I’ve been in the private sector for many years and I far I may not be able to persuade them I have the adaptability to make the change. Could you give me some tips? (RT, email ).
A: Well done RT, fail to prepare…
I’ve gone one further. I’ve asked a both-sides-of-the-fence veteran of public service interviews to elaborate.
Here is what she wrote:
“As a veteran of the public service with years of experience serving on job interview boards, I have interviewed countless candidates. Through these experiences, I have developed what I believe to be a keen understanding of the traits and characteristics that public service interviewers value.
“First and foremost, a commitment to public service values is essential. This includes a dedication to serving the public, a strong work ethic, and a willingness to go above and beyond to meet the needs of citizens. Additionally, candidates who are able to effectively interact with the public are highly appreciated.
“We want to see that a candidate is committed to staying with the organisation for the long-term while being capable of bringing fresh ideas to the table. Reliability is also crucial, as we need to know that a candidate can be trusted to complete their often-demanding work. Tasks can take weeks to complete at times – it’s good to show you have staying power.
“Furthermore, a good understanding of the organisation to which you are applying is essential. This is often under-estimated by candidates. Interviewers want to know that you have done your research, understand the organisation’s mission and values, and are a good fit for the role and the organisation as a whole. If you demonstrate that, you also illustrate that you have attention to detail, another coveted trait.
“It’s important to keep in mind that the public service is a highly regulated environment, with strict rules and codes of conduct. These are necessary to serve the public in the most efficient and effective way possible. Candidates should be aware of this and be mindful of their language and behaviour during the interview process.
“Because you are coming from the private sector, you may need to go a bit further to show you understand the differences you will face in the new role. Show that you have sussed out the territory and are prepared to make whatever changes you will need to make to make the grade.
“Yes, RT, you are right in identifying that you must persuade the panel of your suitability, particularly as you are coming from ‘the outside’. But you can do it – many have done it before you. Put in the preparatory work and you’ll give yourself a great chance.”
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