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Personal Drive and Integrity; The “Tricky Question” Category of the ILS

Updated: May 27



Usually your interview preparation will involve thinking of all the success stories you have of thinking strategically, achieving deadlines, and leading your team. But have you prepared examples about when your integrity was challenged, or when things went wrong? These questions and more can pop up when a panel wants to assess your personal drive and integrity.

The fourth capability in the Integrated Leadership System is Personal Drive and Integrity. The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles is foundational to being an Australian Public Servant. Although personal character is a given for government employees, candidates should be able to articulate how they put these values into practise with answers to interview questions.

M.H. McKee famously said; “Wisdom is knowing the right path to take. Integrity is taking it.” This sums up the two prongs of personal drive and integrity perfectly. In the APS, we expect all employees to display these qualities, and executives must exemplify them.

The APS has a roadmap for the right path to take; The APS Values and The Code of Conduct. Adherence to both is the bedrock of the Personal Drive and Integrity Capability. Savvy candidates should review both before an interview, and spend some time thinking about examples that demonstrate these behaviours. Bear in mind that many agencies have their own values and behaviours as well, such as the Department of Defence Leadership Behaviours or the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Values.

Once informed about what behaviours are expected, the task is for the individual to make appropriate choices. This involves taking risks and showing courage, giving frank and fearless advice, and importantly, acknowledging mistakes and learning from them. It’s about having a backbone; including backing others when they need support and taking tough decisions.

This capability also assesses a candidate’s ability to walk the talk. Personal drive is about being proactive, showing initiative and taking responsibility. It’s about being persistent, resilient and positive despite setbacks.

A crucial element of this capability is emotional intelligence; the ability to recognise, understand and manage our own emotions, and to recognise, understand, and influence the emotions of others. Interview panels may want to assess how you self-evaluate your own performance, and how you sensitively give feedback to others.

So, just exactly what kind of “Tricky Questions” might you expect in an APS interview to assess Personal Drive and Integrity? Here are some to ponder:

· Tell us about a time when you persevered despite setbacks.

· Tell us about a mistake you made and what you did to rectify the situation.

· Give an example of a time when you demonstrated one or more of the APS values in your work.

· Describe a situation when a stakeholder did not want to take your advice. What did you do?

· Describe a situation when you took onboard feedback about your behaviour and made changes as a result.

· Tell us about a time when you showed initiative by taking responsibility for something.

· Give an example of a time when you assured compliance with legislation or policy.

· Tell us what you have done this year to for your own professional development.

Self-development and learning are key to this capability. Thanks for taking the time to read my article and consider some new ideas! If I can help you with your professional development by enhancing your skills as an interviewer or interviewee, please reach out!


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Lisa Tozer

The Interview Coach

Level 5, 1 Moore St

Canberra, ACT 2601

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Tel: ​0439 246 372

lisa@interview.coach

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