DAFF Assessment Centre, Written Exercise, Group Activity and Interview Preparation

Are you applying to the DAFF Graduate Program? The Australian Department of Agriculture graduate program offers three different streams of work over a 10 month program. Competition for places is high, and the recruitment process will test you against the other applicants at each stage. In this article we will guide you through each stage of the recruitment process.
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The Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry graduate program is a popular scheme offering 10 to 20 places each year to graduates across a range of environmental related fields. The graduate program contains positions in three streams: the Generalist stream; ICT stream; and ABARES Entry Level Professional Program. The ABARES ELPP is run by the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences. This article will take you through each stage of the recruitment process for the DAFF Graduate Program.

The Department of Agriculture Graduate Development Program Recruitment process is:

Throughout the recruitment process you need to refer to the capabilities required for your job area. The DAFF capability framework contains the following skills requirements. Specific jobs may have additional capabilities attached to them.

  • Shapes strategic thinking
  • Achieves results
  • Cultivates productive working relationships
  • Exemplifies personal drive and integrity
  • Communicates with influence

DAFF Application Form

It is important that you make a good impression with your application form, as the recruitment process for the Department of Agriculture Graduate Development Program is highly competitive.

As part of your application, the online recruitment system asks you to fill your information against a number of fields. As well as the usual personal details, work and education experience, and references, you are asked to provide a statement against each of the selection criteria for your role. This section is the trickiest part of the application form, as it is one of the key sections used by the selection committee to consider your application, and you have to sell yourself using examples from your previous experience, often within a word limit.

Some tips for approaching the application form:

  • Prepare your responses in Word before cutting and pasting them into your application form. This will help with spelling, grammar, and ensuring that you stay within the word limit. Check spelling and grammar before submitting your form.
  • Fill in all parts of the application honestly.
  • Respond to all the selection criteria questions.
  • Keep within the word limit for each question, so make sure that every word counts.
  • Use examples from your work experience, volunteering or other experiences to illustrate your answers. Organise your answers with the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action and Result).
  • Don’t use the same example more than once.

DAFF Online Written Test

This test is designed to assess your written communication skills and analytical ability. The test is timed, you are given at the information you need to prepare your response to the question. The information is likely to be based on the type of work you would do with the Australian Department of Agriculture. Your task is to write a one and a half page brief within a given template and based on the information contained in your pack. You are told what to include in each stage of the template. The test is timed, so plan your time to ensure that you complete the task, that you have time to check your spelling and grammar and so that you don’t need to rush the end of your work.

In this test you are being marked against how you:

  • Identify the main issues in the texts and understand what they signify.
  • Pull pieces of information together to construct further information.
  • Analyse the issues in the pack.
  • Present your response in a clear and logical format.

Pick up more tips about how to approach the written exercise with JobTestPrep’s written exercises preparation pack.

DAFF Assessment Centre

If you are successful in the written exercise, you are then invited to the final assessment stage, an assessment centre in Canberra. You can expect two exercises at the assessment centre, a group exercise, and a panel interview.

Group Exercise

The group exercise is designed to test your team working skills, assessing how you work with others to come to a common goal. Past group activities include a discussion around a department relevant topic. You are given 30 minutes to read a pack of materials, and discuss key issues. You have to keep in mind a set of tasks identified in the activity. At the end of the session, your group have 5 minutes to present your findings to the assessors. Some of the key points to be aware of during a group exercise are: ensure that you take part in the discussion, but do not dominate, allow others to speak, and listen to them to be able to respond to them. Learn more about how to approach a group activity with the JobTestPrep group exercises pages.


The final activity of the recruitment process is the interview. You are interviewed by a panel of directors from the department. The aim of the interview is to gain a greater understanding of who you are, your experience, skills and abilities.

Prepare for the interview by:

  • Reading up on the DAFF, their main projects and any news items about them.
  • Review the job description for the position you are applying to, and the competencies required.
  • Prepare examples that can be used to illustrate where you have used the skills contained in the required competencies.
  • Rehearse asking common questions about yourself, your skills, work and ambitions.
  • Pull together all of the above in a mock interview.

Interviews can be a scary prospect, but preparing thoroughly ahead of time can help you ace it. Read up on how to beat the nerves with JobTestPrep’s free guide to interviews. Mock interviews are also an important part of preparing for an interview as they give you an indication of how you perform under pressure. A mock interview with JobTestPrep’s Skype based interviews offers not just the opportunity to rehearse your answers, but also feedback on your performance from our trained assessor.

In Summary

The decision to offer you a place on the DAFF graduate program is based on your performance throughout all the assessments combined. As a result it is important that you are properly prepared at each stage. Prepare for each new test with JobTestPrep. Good luck!

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