Hands up – who likes interviews?

When I ask this question to a group of 20 people, generally 19 out of 20 hands stay firmly down, only 1 hand goes up! I always joke ‘there’s usually one weirdo in the group’. 😂

We’ve delivered our Job Application & Interview Skills training course to well over 7000 Public Sector participants over the years, and it’s the same thing everywhere, in NSW, WA, QLD Government, Federal Government and Local Government!

Even many senior execs aren’t that keen on interviews, so if you don’t like interviews, you’re most definitely not alone!

Why? Well, it’s a scary place to be. 😱

It’s intense; you’re in the spotlight and under pressure; you have to ‘sell’ yourself; it’s often high-stakes, especially if you really want – or need – the role; you have 3 (or sometimes more!) people all focusing on you & bombarding you with seemingly random questions; you’re not used to talking about yourself; someone you know is on the panel… the list goes on!

If you’re like the 19/20 people who do get anxious at interviews, the key problem is that your brain reacts the same way when it comes to interviews as it does to a major threat like a tiger walking into the room! 🐅🐯

And during that sort of ‘threat’ state, our brains are designed not to think.

Your amygdalae (there are 2 of them), which are part of your limbic system, are essentially your brain’s main threat detection system. They don’t want you stopping and thinking if a tiger walks into the room!

They want you to simply fight, run away or hide (fight, flight, freeze). As a result, depending on how threatened you feel, the thinking part of your brain (the pre-frontal cortex) effectively gets shut down.

Obviously, that’s not particularly useful in an interview!

Of course, it’s a continuum, with one end being that it’s just a bit more difficult to think on your feet and compose a great answer to the interview question the panel have just put to you…

…and on the other end of the scale, your heart races, your mouth goes dry (no need for saliva to digest things when you’re facing a tiger!), your mind goes completely blank and you can hardly get any words out, let alone a coherent answer to the question!

Like it or not, whatever job you’re going for in the Public (or Private) Sector, an interview will very likely be part of the process at every level, so interview anxiety is something you’re going to have to manage.

In our Recruitment Training for Panel Members we teach interviewers practical skills to make interviewing more of a ‘humane’, human-centred experience. We also teach them how to ask the right questions to get the best out of a candidate and to make people feel more comfortable.

However, not all panels are skilled interviewers…and even if they are, people still get nervous. So, the key is that you need to work out what you can do to lower your limbic system’s threat response.

Different things work for different people, but there are some key things that work for most people.

Deep, slow breathing and labelling what you’re feeling are 2 well-proven methods, as is doing certain body poses that regulate key stress chemicals/ hormones/ neurotransmitters, etc.

One training participant once suggested having a glass of wine or a shot before your interview, but obviously there are some challenges with that (maybe not with virtual interviews though 🤔😂 JUST KIDDING, of course!).

Practicing some form of mindfulness usually helps, but we’re all different. Some people like listening to their favourite music (one person said listening to Death Metal calmed them down!), going for a walk, being with or not being with people before an interview are things to consider. There’s no substitute for prior preparation, practice, practice, and more practice, of course.

What works for you? I’m always interested in more ideas, so please send us an email or comment on our LinkedIn post (once up). Feel free to connect with/follow us on LinkedIn if you are not doing so already….

We cover this topic and a lot more in our ever-popular, in-house, super-practical Job Application and Interview Skills training.

The course is a practical, comprehensive, easy to understand, end-to-end training program covering everything you need to know from the Principles of Merit and what that means for applications; preparation; written applications; covering letters; EOIs; Targeted Questions; CV writing; NSW (or other) PS Capability Framework; interviews (virtual and f-2-f); overcoming interview anxiety & nerves; referees; and more.

It provides people at every level (from frontline staff to Executives) with everything they need to know when applying for a role in the Public Sector, at every level of government, and is tailored to each groups roles and situation.

For NSW Government, our training covers the NSW Capability Framework and is of course GSE Act compliant. We’ve also very successfully adapted it to other Government entities and their respective Capability Frameworks e.g. Federal Government, WA Government, QLD Government, Local Government, etc.

Whether your organisation is going through a restructure or regrading of roles, recruiting and expanding, promoting or helping people with new career opportunities, or you’d just like to ensure employees are up to speed with the relevant Capability Framework, this course will provide them with all the knowledge they will need to effectively apply for their next Public Sector role.

All our programs are led by highly experienced Southern Cross Coaching & Development subject matter experts with deep Public Sector experience and can cater for both virtual and face-to-face delivery environments.

What does the course cover?

  • NSW Government GSE Act 2013 compliant – explains and works through the  post-GSE Act process
  • Explains the NSW PS Capability Framework (can be customised to any Capability Framework e.g. Local/ other States/ Federal Government)
  • Understanding the Public Sector Principles of Merit selection process and what it means for your application
  • How to submit an effective application for almost any role/job under the NSW Capability Framework (or other Capability Framework) (examples provided as part of the training)
    – Capability brainstorming template provided
  • Tools to use when writing an Expression of Interest or a limited length application
  • Targeted Questions (if appropriate) and Covering Letters
  • How to prepare a Best Practice CV/résumé that works for the Public AND Private Sectors
    – Soft copy template provided
  • Highly practical behavioural interview skills, techniques, and tools to improve interview performance (virtual and face-to-face)
    – Participants get to do a mock interview on the day
  • Overcoming anxiety and nerves
  • Virtual and face-to-face interview preparation tips
  • How to make a good first (and last!) impression – even in a virtual interview!
  • Referees – selecting and getting the best from them

**Includes Leading Practice soft-copy templates for CVs, Covering Letters, and for Capability Brainstorming**


Who would benefit from attending this in-house course?

  • Those who need help with applying the Capability Framework to a specific job application or interview.
  • Anyone who hasn’t applied for a job for a long time to those who think they’re ok but want to improve their skills – all will benefit from this course.
  • Anyone who feels they need some help with their interviews or job applications, be it a brush up or complete overhaul!
  • Anyone who wants to submit the best job application and interview they have ever done.
  • Anyone who is going through a restructure and has to apply for a new position (or their current one).
  • Anyone who is taking a Voluntary Redundancy and is considering applying for another role in NSW Public Sector.
  • Anyone who needs an easy to learn (and remember) technique, to write better job applications and interviews.

The program is tailored to each organisation’s exact needs, and often to each individual group. We have been widely presenting it to more than 7,000 Public Sector participants across country and metropolitan Australia and our clients include:

WA Dept of Finance; Australian Department of Health; NSW Dept. of Communities & Justice (FACS, Corrective Services, Royal Commission, etc); NSW Dept. of Customer Service; Resilience NSW; NSW Police (sworn & unsworn staff); Parliament of NSW; Transport for NSW; NSW Dept of Premier & Cabinet; NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian, NSW Office of Sport; Safework NSW; NSW Fire Brigade; Service NSW; NSW Ombudsman; Dept of Finance, Service & Innovation; Commission for Children and Young People; NSW Dept. of Education; QLD Transport & Main Roads; AICIS, Lake Macquarie City Council; plus many others.

Enough about us telling you that our course is awesome – here is what recent participants had to say about the course…


“I usually interview very badly. However, as a result of this course, I have been successful and have been offered a position! This course and the trainer were great and I feel that if I did not attend this course, I would not have progressed as far as I did in the recruitment process. The trainer was very knowledgeable and thoroughly detailed all subjects, as well as providing great examples and having great answers to all questions asked, no matter how difficult.” (SCSO, NSW FACS)


“After attending the Application and Interviewing Skills training I felt more confidence in writing my application and preparing for potential interview. (The trainer) was happy to answer questions from individuals based on their personal situation, which was extremely helpful.” (Director, Federal Dept. of Health)


“This was the most important and informative course I have attended in many years.” (Sergeant, NSW Police)


“Panel members really saw a marked improvement in people’s applications and interviews after doing this program compared to previously, it was excellent.” (Director, AICIS (Federal Government))

If you want to find out more about our customised in-house Job Application & Interview Skills training program and/or Career Coaching (or any of our training sessions of course!) please email us at [email protected] or simply pick up the phone and talk to a real person – give us a call on (02) 7901 5618.

Simon and the team @ Southern Cross Coaching & Development