Blog David Crowe

David Crowe | The Selection Process from a candidate’s perspective!

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Department of The Taoiseach

When I first applied for the position of Administrative Officer in Tax Policy, Banking and Finance, and Economics I really didn’t think I had a hope. The job seemed like one for someone with 10 years experience in the field and four masters in economics. In fact, I only really applied for the sake of keeping in practice at interviews (or so I told everyone). But still it said “graduate” in black and white in the ad so I gave it my all while I could.

The first stage of the competition was filling out a form which was mostly concerned with your previous work experience and educational background. At the time I filled it out without too much concern but this turned out to be one of the most important parts of my application.

The next stage was an online test of my numerical and verbal ability. These tests were tough. Thankfully I only had to do it once rather than a different test for each specialty. Each question was easy enough on its own but time was very tight. It took a lot of discipline to keep to the time I’d given myself to do each question and not get bogged down, especially when I knew I could get this one with just a second longer... In the end, my discipline paid off and I passed to stage three in all of the competitions I applied to.

Unfortunately that wasn’t the end of my relationship with these tests. Before the competition could continue the PAS (Public Appointments Service) had to make sure we hadn’t been copying off our neighbour the first time around and we were called up to Dublin for a similar test. This was similar to the first one, although the pressure might have seemed a bit more intense at the time. Nothing like an exam hall to make you sweat.

Afterwards we had to do a “job simulation test” where we had to decide how we’d react in situations civil servants can face on a daily basis. This was tough, many of the options seemed like they were splitting hairs and sometimes none of the options you were given seemed right, but it was an interesting insight into the challenges you might have to face in the role.

The final stage of the process was a separate interview and presentation for each of the three specialisations. First I had to give the presentation. I was given an hour to prepare a fifteen minute presentation based on a stack of documents given to me. This was an enjoyable, if nerve-wracking challenge. There was a lot of material and I really needed to draw upon all my experience cramming for exams to prepare my presentation and be ready for the questions the board asked afterwards. Since I’ve gotten to the department I’ve realised how relevant this was to the work I do every day.

The interview board were very friendly and really worked to help me perform at my best. Although it was tough, it was very fair and the questions gave me a great chance to show my suitability for the job and they weren’t trying to catch me out or make me slip up.