Hi there,

My experience about using your recommended techniques in Australia.

Background. I'm applying for CFO or senior commercial finance manager roles.

1. Resumes. I used a one page resume as you recommended and invariably got feedback from about 60% of recruiters that the resume should be put over two pages and in larger page being too hard to read.

2. Interviews. Your advice was very powerful and resulted in me literally blowing people away with my preparedness and concise approach. (Caveat...of 4 interviews with companies and 4 interviews with recruiters this week...I can say none of them had any idea about how to conduct a behavioural interview as described by Mark and Mike)

3. Closing. Asking for an offer...absolutely no-one expected this at the end of an interview and many didn't like the bold approach (probably Australian culture)....there were rather weird reactions from people who just didn't know what to do with such a strong approach.

4. Follow up. I followed your advice and sent a simple thankyou card to 3 people who interviewed me for a CFO role. I followed up at the end of the week to be told that I was the front runner for the role until they received the thankyou cards....they thought this was too keen and I've been dropped off their short list.

I've received 2 firm offers (Position, location, remuneration and start date) and something "less firm" (ie they want me to jump just one more hurdle) in one day from 4 company interviews this week. The company I missed out on was my favourite...but hey until I've got an offer I've got nothing.

Australian listeners beware...the interviewing series recommendations contain very very good advice...however in Australia...just tone it down a little...we are a few years behind the US.


thaGUma's picture

1. Recruiters finding it hard to read = lazy – find another recruiter. 60% being lazy is about normal.
2. Interviews – totally agree. I messed up mine big time bit still got the offer because MT kept me positive and because MT keeps us three levels of energy above the norm, we do good on a bad day.
3. Closing – honestly I think you may have done it wrong. No one, especially an Aussie can have problem with a closing. A simple thank you can be enough of a response and you always leave them with a great impression.
4. Thank you cards. I agree it doesn’t suit the Aus mentality. A telephone call follow up does.
Australia is unique in the west - you have way too many poisonous creatures for your average (sane) person to endure. As a nation you have a knack of cutting right to the chase and this gives you an edge in the UK and US.

littlejus's picture

To Garry: thanks for sharing your experience. I'm about to set out on interviews in Australia and am currently working my way through the interview series to prep for this.

Your experience share rings true for me too. I had two interviews late last year and, like you, I found that neither of them used behavioral interviewing questions. In fact, I was quite astonished by the lack of preparedness on the interviewers' part.

But I will keep at it, sure to find an interviewer who really puts me through my paces, and chances are that's the job I'll want most. With Mark and Mike's help, I'll be ready for it.

Thanks again for sharing your experience and good luck in your new job!

jhack's picture

Even if the question isn't behavioral, a behavioral answer is very powerful.

Take a question like, "How are your FORTRAN programming skills?" for example.

Saying, "They're really good!" may be true.

Answering by discussing a time where your FORTRAN skills were critical to the success of a project, and detailing how you analyzed the problem, coded a solution, and then what the impact was - now THAT will impress the interviewer, even if the question wasn't behavioral.

So be prepared to answer effectively, regardless of how the question is structured.

John Hack

ashdenver's picture

At the risk of sounding like a myna bird, constantly echoing what other people have said, I would still concur with JHack's approach -- give the behavioural answer even if the question itself wasn't behavioural. It's a politician's trick -- give the answer you want them to have, not necessarily the answer they're expecting.

Before I found, my husband had shared with me the five point approach:
* define the SITUATION
* outline the OPPORTUNITY
* describe the DECISION
* share the ACTIONS you took
* quantify the RESULTS

About a month ago, my husband lost his job and he went to the outplacement firm they sent him to. The firm's acronym of choice was SOAR. In thirty years time, the only thing that has changed is "they dropped the D for Decision."

That's compelling enough evidence for me to always use the behavioural answer - it's the long-standing mark of excellence - and in a market that's not focused on the behavioural aspect, sharing those components will make you stand out even further at the head of the pack.

In JHack's example, the hiring manager or recruiter may have asked that same question two dozen times and gotten responses ranging from "Pretty good" to "My FORTRAN skills are amazing" to "I'm still at the beginning stages of FORTRAN" to "I'm much stronger in Visual Basic." Getting the comprehensive beginning-middle-end type of answer as outlined by JHack will make your conversation POP! You will have differentiated yourself from the rest of the applicant pool.

The trick is: don't blather! Minimum: 30 seconds. Maximum: 2 minutes.

On a side note, two offers from four interviews is fantastic - congratulations! (I don't suppose any of these Australian companies have American divisions where I could do payroll?!)

douglase's picture

1. Resumes. In Australia, I have found that between 2-4 pages is the expected length.  I have run a bucket load of government recruitment processes and been interviewed by multiple government departments and this seems to be the standard.  Not saying it is the most effective, but it is the most common.  My own resume is 4 pages, but the stuff on page 3 and 4 is relevant to my industry and could be left off or reduced to about 4 lines.  I have found that panel members who see resumes that fall outside what they are expecting either ridicule it or are impressed.  And I have seen two different people react at either end over the same resume.

2. Interviews. Behavioural responses are key.  Preparing for them is key.  I have a list of 30 questions that might get asked by any interviewer, and a list of usually 6-10 questions that are industry specific.  And in my last interview they still surprised me with the industry questions. 

3. Closing. Asking for an offer.  In Australia not really the done thing.  And because of that you surprised the panel and most likely not in a way that they liked. 

4. Follow up. Thank you cards are not the done thing here.  Part of our culture will make that back fire.  Having to open it and read it uses my time, and makes it look like you are sucking up.  The version of follow up I have found successful is to call the nominated contact and request an update on the selection process. 

"Australian listeners beware...the interviewing series recommendations contain very very good advice...however in Australia...just tone it down a little...we are a few years behind the US."

I wouldn't say that we are behind the US.  We are different to the US.  Australia has a different culture and a different approach.  And that needs to be taken into consideration.



Mark's picture
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I think y'all are wrong, but as I like to say, you're there, do what you think is best.

You mistakenly assume that "closing" is the "done thing" in the US.  It is NOT.  It is simply THE MOST EFFECTIVE THING for the MOST INTERVIEWERS the average interviewee will come in contact with.  Us Yanks also have nay-sayers.

Thank you notes are, as well, NOT the done thing.  NO ONE does them.

And that is precisely the point.

I do not dispute your results, but rather the imputation of rationale driving them.

I think the person who said that a thank you note caused someone to come off the short list is fibbing, and terribly shortsighted.

Full disclosure: I have recruited for many positions (50?) in Oz, and sat on boards with Aussies.  We spoke the same language.

Those of you who have shared your experiences: in what industry were you interviewing?


douglase's picture

I work in government and specifically IT support and management. 

But it also means that when you apply for a job you already know what your pay will be.  If you apply for a AO7 job it will be between x and x and that's not negotiable.

Thinking about this further, this colours much of my views and methods and is quite relevant to all of my comments.


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge


My read on your situation is that it is probably much  more likely that your industry - government - and your specialty - IT, which is known worldwide for poor hiring processes and lack of professional managerial development - are far more likely contributors to your sense of the applicability of our recommendations.

Nevertheless, you are there and I'm not.  So, continue to pay attention and continue to share - I'd appreciate it.


douglase's picture

Thanks Mark,

I'll continue to share.  If somebody else can gain benefit from either my successes or my failures I am happy.

My industry and speciality have definately shaped my sense of applicability of your recommendations.  And I have been incrementally implementing improvements where I have been working for the last 7 years.  Mainly in the areas where I have felt that people have been ready to accept change.

Thinking about this, this probably means that I have discarded some ideas as "too hard/much for now" in the past.  I think i might go re-listen to a few casts and see what might be relevant now.