PM&C OCAT Test, Assessment Centre and Interview Preparation

Are you applying to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) Graduate Program? Recruitment is competitive, with over 1,000 applicants for 30 or so places each year, so you need to perform at the top of your game in order to gain a coveted spot. This article guides you through each stage to help you through.
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The PM&C Graduate Program is a popular scheme, with a recruitment process designed to require candidates to show their skills as best they can. With so many applicants, you need to create an application that stands out at each stage. The recruitment process has also undergone changes in recent years, and is following a new order for the 2015 intake. Gain tips and advice for each stage of the process from this article.

The PM&C graduate program recruitment process contains three assessment stages:

Application Form

The application form is your first opportunity to make an impression on the recruiters, and it will be used thoroughly when deciding who to invite to the assessment centre. The application form contains two main places where you can shine. The first is a two page CV (maximum), and the second is in your 300 word answers to three key questions.

The application form will be assessed against the selection criteria listed in the guide. Ensure that you address these criteria wherever you can, including in your CV. Use examples from your recent experience to really evidence how you fit these selection criteria. Arrange your examples using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to ensure that you cover all the important points. Given the limitations on your CV, try our CV builder to create a tailored CV that stands out.

Responses are required to the following three questions:

Why are you attracted to a graduate position in the APS?

  • Why do you believe the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is the right department/ organisation for you to start your career?
  • What capabilities and personal attributes will you bring to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet?

Online Cognitive Ability Test

Most applicants will be invited to the online testing as the results of your test are used as an additional way to screen applicants quickly. The test you will sit is the Onetest cognitive ability test (CAT). The Onetest is a 20 minute long test with 50 questions covering numerical, verbal and logical reasoning. This test is aimed at assessing your reasoning skills, across a range of skills, without differentiating between types. The test is fast moving, with less than 30 seconds available for each question. The PM&C look for candidates with high scores (around the 90th percentile and above), so preparation is key to ensuring you score highly in the test. Prepare for the Onetest test with JobTestPrep’s specially created OCAT style practice packs.

In previous years applicants have been required to sit an Emotional Intelligence test as well. This test measures how you read, understand and manage the people around you, which are all skills required by leaders.

Assessment Centre

The PM&C assessment centre is back for 2015. The key feature of the assessment centre is the individual interview. You will be informed of the exercises to expect at the assessment centre in advance.

PM&C Interview

The interview is your opportunity to sell your strengths to the recruitment team. You may well be asked to provide your references ahead of the interview, so be prepared to get on to this very quickly. The interview is about you and your suitability for the role. In preparation for the interview, review your application form and the answers you gave there. Prepare further examples that can be used to elaborate on the information in your application form. The interviewers will ask follow on questions on your original answer, so plan for those as well. Organise all examples using the STAR method.

The PM&C interview is an intense interview, and a lot is expected from your answers. Preparation is key to ensuring that you are confident going in to the interview and are able to answer questions competently. Take a look at our free guide to interviews for more tips on how to approach the day. Pull all of your preparation together using a mock interview to rehearse your answers in interview conditions. JobTestPrep’s Skype based interviews offer you the opportunity to prepare for your interview with a trained assessor who can give you pointers on how to improve for the real thing.

In Summary

If you are one of the lucky ones, your offer will be subject to your references and passing a security check. The PM&C Graduate Program recruitment process is highly competitive, and in order to be one of the lucky ones, you will need to be both good, and highly prepared at each stage. This article has run through the stages of this recruitment process, highlighting the resources available to help you progress through. Good luck!

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