Keyword extraction tips for answering behavioural based evidence questions


Interviewing Method For Police and Government Selection Panel Interviews

Victoria Police is like most government departments, and many larger private organisations for that matter, in that they use an interview method known as behavioural based evidence questioning. This type of interview assesses the applicant’s suitability for the position by understanding their capability and comparing that to the needs and requirements of the role.

The applicant is asked to provide evidence of their capability by way of examples of specific situations the applicant has personally been involved in, and explain what actions they took in order to demonstrate the specific capability, skills or qualities being asked about in the question.

The specific capabilities for the role will be outlined in the key selection criteria, or, in the case of Victoria Police Applicants, the Capability Profile.

The STAR Method For Answering Questions

The STAR method is a commonly used template or framework for helping interviewees better structure the answers they provide to the panel. The STAR method stands for

Situation:what was the situation or circumstances? (to give some context)

Task, what was the specific task or your specific role or responsibilities?

Actions, what specific actions or steps did you take which relate to the capability in question?

Result, what specific positive result did your actions cause?

Whilst, we don’t specifically use this acronym in our program, our framework is similar and serves the same purpose.

An effective framework is a must for answering behavioural based evidence questions, however, it’s not a magic formula which does the work for you, far from it. The STAR method, or similar framework, like the framework we use in our training program,

is simply a starting point. The ability to extract the keywords and issues from questions, the ability to link specific actions to specific results, to use connecting words, and to apply criteria to self assess the quality and relevance of answers is crucial for applicants who want to do more than just answer the questions ‘correctly’.

Ultimately, every applicant who has done a basic level of research and preparation is aware of the STAR formula, it’s the applicant that has gone five, six and seven layers deeper than that, that will produce a polished, confident and high-quality performance and leave the ‘average’ applicant in their wake.

Selection Panel Interview and It’s Impact on Joining Victoria Police

It’s as simple as this, the Panel interview carries more weight than any other aspect of the application process. Effectively, it’s the ‘job interview’.

To my way of thinking, applicants are simply qualifying for the opportunity to be interviewed by ‘passing’ all of the steps involved in the application process that precedes the selection panel interview. If you can make it that far it’s like being ‘shortlisted’. You then need to compete with literally hundreds of other applicants for what might be 25 positions available in the next intake.

Just like answering the behavioural based evidence questions ‘correctly’ is no guarantee of passing the panel interview, simply passing the panel interview is no guarantee of being offered a position at the Victoria Police Academy. This is a very competitive process and those wanting to join Victoria Police would be well advised to do all they can to prepare themselves to give an exceptional performance at their Victoria Police Selection Panel Interview to have any chance of avoiding a waiting list that is going nowhere for the majority of applicants stuck in the middle of it.

About the Author

Russell Kempster

Russell Kempster

Russ spent 12 years as a police officer with Victoria Police. The last four years of that time was spent at the Victoria Police Academy as an instructor, where he taught everything from fitness to firearms. He has trained police applicants, as well as recruits undergoing their initial training, experienced serving police officers and was even called on by Victoria Police to help train other would-be police academy instructors.

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