The Australian Bureau of Statistics is a popular graduate employer offering a range of jobs to suit different qualifications. The ABS is Australia’s official statistical organisation, responsible for providing all of the statistical information for the Australian Government. They pride themselves on providing a high quality, objective, and responsive national statistical service. Career opportunities include fieldwork, developing new methodologies, technology projects, corporate services and working on publications. Competition is stiff; 2,175 applicants contended for 70 places on the Graduate Development Program (GDP) in 2013.

The ABS Graduate Development Program contains four streams: Statistical and Analytical Stream, Methodology and Data Management Stream, Corporate Stream, and Information and Communication Technology Stream. The stages in the selection process are:

Throughout the application process you are being assessed on:

  • Analytical and problem solving skills.
  • Interpersonal skills including the ability to build rapport and work effectively in a team environment.
  • Clear and logical written and oral communication skills.
  • Ability to use own initiative, adapt to change, and be flexible in approach.
  • Ability to plan, organise, and achieve results (manage self and project).

ABS Application Form

The ABS application form is your first opportunity to state your case for a job with the ABS. It is vital that you make a good impression, so ensure that you answer all mandatory questions, and provide complete responses to each of the selection criteria. In addition you are asked to send your most recent academic transcripts.

You are required to submit your resumé alongside your application form. Attaching your resume gives you another opportunity to shine.

The application form contains two trickier sections. The first is 10 multiple choice questions on various research terms and the second is a series of questions on the selection criteria for the job. Use examples in your answers from your academic and work experience, or extra curricular activities. Frame these examples to demonstrate your skills, strengths, and accomplishments. This is particularly important in the selection criteria section where you need your examples to demonstrate how you have behaved in similar situations in the past. Don’t forget to research the role of the ABS, and the job and stream you are interested in ahead of your application. Organise all your answers with the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to ensure that you include all the information you need for each question.

You are then shortlisted based on your application, your responses to the selection criteria and research questions, your academic record, and your resumé.

ABS Online Written Assessment

The next stage of the recruitment process is the online written assessment. This is a two hour assessment designed to test your written communication and analytical skills. You are being tested on your ability to understand significant issues, the ways in which you organise, integrate, and construct then, and finally present your own information logically and clearly for discussion.

You are given a choice of several questions but you only need to answer one question. Choose the question that best aligns with your skills and interests. You can only take the written test once. Once you have chosen your topic, you are given background information to assist you with your answer.

  • You must complete the test in order to progress to the interview.
  • There is no need to write an introduction to your answer.
  • It is beneficial to write a summary at the end covering your main points.
  • Pace yourself to ensure that you answer the question fully in the time available.
  • Keep track of the word count, perhaps by putting your answer in Word, but be careful not to lose formatting when you move it over to the application form. No points will be deducted for formatting errors, the recruitment team are more interested in the content you provide, but it will impact on the overall impact you make.

This test is essentially a case study exercise, with a written test element. You are expected to read, prepare, write and review your answer in the time allocated. Prepare for your ABS written assessment with our case study practice pack.

ABS Phone Interview

If you pass the online written test, the next stage is a short phone interview lasting approximately 15 mins. This is carried out by the ABS Graduate Panel, representing the stream you have applied for. The purpose of this interview is to assess your ability to communicate in English. The interview is a get to know you interview, with some brief general questions. The interview is informal.

In preparation for the day, review the selection criteria and your application form answers, and have a copy of the selection criteria to hand so that you know what they are looking for ahead of the questions themselves. Phone interviews can be difficult because you cannot see the interviewer, creating a barrier with the interviewer. Review interview technique and some answers to those tricky interview questions with JobTestPrep’s free guide to interviews.

ABS Interview

If you impress in the phone interview, you will be invited to a face to face interview at your nearest ABS office. This interview is a competency based interview, with questions on the competencies addressed in the application form. Your aim is to answer questions as clearly and concisely as you can. Take your time, and ask the interviewer to repeat any questions you don’t understand. The interview is a two way conversation, so prepare some questions for the interviewers to help you understand more about the ABS from the people who work there.

Types of questions include:

  • Relevant experience
  • Opinions on relevant issues to the job you are applying for
  • Competency-based questions — be prepared to back up your statements with examples from your personal and professional life.

In order to prepare for this interview review your application form and the examples you provided on the form. Also review the competencies, and think of more examples that you can use to answer questions on each competency. Plan out your answers based on the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action and Result), and then practice answering questions in interview conditions. 

ABS Psychometric Tests

Some application processes will include psychometric or aptitude tests. You will be advised ahead of time if you have a test to take. Some of the most common tests set by ABS include:

  • Personality tests - The aim of these tests is to assess the match between your personality and the description of the job you have applied for. The test aims to test you on elements of your personality that you may not be aware of. Familiarise yourself with personality tests with JobTestPrep.
  • Situational judgement tests (SJT) - SJT tests measure how you respond to situations in the workplace. In order to perform well on a SJT tests you need to be in a work state of mind. Find out more about SJT tests with JobTestPrep.
  • Numerical reasoning tests - Numerical reasoning tests are a common aptitude test in recruitment. In these tests you are examined on your ability to use numerical information presented in a graph, table or chart to extract information and answer questions. JobTestPrep can help you prepare for numerical reasoning tests from a range of test providers.
  • Verbal reasoning tests - Verbal reasoning tests are another commonly used psychometric test. These tests examine your ability to comprehend, analyse and interpret written text. Prepare for verbal reasoning tests with JobTestPrep.

Prepare for Success

The ABS graduate development program is a popular graduate scheme, and you have to be at the top of your game at each stage of the application process in order to ensure that you are one of the worthy people chosen to work with the ABS. Preparation is key to performing well at each stage; start practicing with JobTestPrep today.