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Guide for job applicants

Developing an effective pitch, preparing for interview and selecting referees
On this page:

Your pitch

A pitch is a summary of your claims for the position that you are applying for. It should be applicable to the selection criteria and role requirements, with a focus on being concise, consistent and clear. It should succinctly articulate why you are a suitable candidate for the role and what you can bring to the role.

Before you begin to plan and develop your response, review the position requirements and responsibilities, selection criteria and other relevant information, such as team overview and key working relationships in the job advertisement or candidate information package. The work level standard for the position can provide further information about role expectations.

What to include in your pitch

Your resume provides us with your career history and evidence of particular expertise or experience.

With the pitch, you need to demonstrate your attributes as they relate to the work-level standards. It is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your potential to perform the role, including leadership attributes where applicable. Focus not only on what you have done but also provide insight into how you did what you did and why you did it that way.

In demonstrating your attributes against the work level standards, use examples to convey:

  • what challenges you were facing
  • how you addressed the challenges
  • the outcome.

Close with a strong statement about why you should be chosen to undertake the role.

Developing your pitch


  • Know the key messages that you want to share, stay on point and highlight your claims against the selection criteria and role requirements.
  • You might prefer to use one or 2 work examples that showcase all criteria rather than a separate example for each criteria. Examples must be relevant and easy for the reader to link back to your resume.
  • Remember document design principles such as a readable font size and use of white space. Use real examples – don’t only ‘tell’ of your skills and experience through general statements.
  • Review your response for relevance, typos and flow before submitting.


  • Use dot points.
  • Waste space telling us about projects or experience that are in your resume. For example: 'I am currently an Executive Assistant in ….'
  • Use small font or narrow margins to maximise word usage. This makes it difficult for the selection panel to read.
  • Submit a pitch longer than 2 pages. This may make your application ‘stand out’ in a non-favourable way as you haven't attempted to craft a succinct but highly relevant response.

How your resume and pitch work together

Your resume creates a vital first impression and should work in tandem with your pitch. Craft your resume to best reflect the role's selection criteria. Make sure it conveys a sense of meaning and commitment for the work of the role you are applying for.

Standard resumes include your personal and contact details, relevant education, qualifications and technical skills, work experience, including responsibilities and achievements and details of referees.

You may wish to encourage the reader to refer to your resume in your pitch to provide more detailed information about the nature of work undertaken and the organisation.

Further resources: How to write and talk to Selection Criteria (Dr Ann Villiers).

Preparing for interview

You can prepare for your interview by:

  • reviewing your responses to the selection criteria, picking a few additional examples to use in the interview
  • participating in a mock interview using the selection criteria and job description to think of possible questions
  • looking at our website to understand what we do—our annual report and corporate plan may be helpful.

During the interview:

  • take time to think about your answer
  • try to respond to interview questions using the STAR Method
  • ask the selection panel to rephrase the question if you don’t understand
  • take a copy of your application or other notes with you for quick reference.

The STAR method

The STAR method is a way of presenting information against selection criteria. For each criterion, think about the following and use these points to form sentences: 

  • Situation — Set the context by describing the circumstance where you used the skills or qualities and gained the experience.
  • Task — What was your role?
  • Actions — What did you do and how did you do it?
  • Results — What did you achieve? What was the result and how does it relate to the job you are applying for?

Selecting referees

Generally, we ask applicants to provide the names and contact details for 2 referees. These referees should:

  • be a current or recent supervisor or someone who can confirm your suitability for the vacancy
  • have observed you in the workplace (ideally)
  • have seen how you respond in a range of work/relevant situations
  • be able to confidently and honestly respond to questioning in person or in writing about your suitability for the vacancy
  • understand that any comments they give may be given to you as part of feedback processes
  • not be a spouse, partner, immediate family member or close associate.

Make sure you ask your referees:

  • if they're available and willing to be contacted by us about your suitability for the role you're applying for
  • what their best contact details are
  • if they would like a copy of the job description, your resume and pitch.

Referee checks

We conduct referee checks to confirm the information you provide in:

  • your application and resume
  • your interview
  • other related assessments you may undertake.

The checks may relate to your work performance, attitude, experience, qualifications, skillset and other work related qualities.

Interview panel members make up the Selection Advisory Committee (SAC). If the SAC seeks referee reports from your referees, you can ask to see them as part of the feedback process.

Learn more about joining our team

Contact us

AFP Recruitment

You can contact us by phone from Monday to Friday 8 am to 4 pm Canberra time.