The inside story: How to get a job at the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission
Ethical employer profiles
6 min. read

The inside story: How to get a job at the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission

Ever wondered what hiring managers are looking for when they recruit for Australia’s most sought-after ethical organisations?

In this series, we interview the people who hire at the organisations where you want to work — and we’ll give you the inside knowledge you need to make your next job application amazing. 

This month we speak to Christine Ward, Manager, People and Culture at the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), the national regulator for all charities across Australia. They work to maintain, protect and enhance public trust and confidence in the Australian charities sector.

(You can check out the roles that the ACNC is currently advertising here)

Hi Christine, thanks for chatting with us! To kick us off, can you tell us a bit about what the ACNC does?

We are the national regulator of Australia’s 60,000 charities. Our work supports the contribution of charities to the community by helping maintain public trust and confidence in charities. Our work also supports their sustainability and innovation and reduces red tape for those running charities. 

Our contribution makes a difference to every Australian. Our ACNC Charity Register provides charity information to help those in need, donors, grant-makers, researchers, policy makers and volunteers understand the important work charities do. 

We assess new applications for registration, provide guidance and resources to charities to promote good governance practices, and help them meet their obligations to remain registered. 

What are some of the things that might attract candidates to apply to the ACNC?

Many of our people say our purpose is the main reason they want to work with the ACNC, with a lot of our people having worked or volunteered with charities.

Our culture is also key reason people love to work at the ACNC and many stay for a long time. We come together as ‘One ACNC’ where our people belong, we continually evolve, share a purpose, and are supported and connected. Our people are open, friendly, supportive and bring an element of fun, and being part of a small agency means we all know each other by name, including our Commissioner, Sue. 

As an Australian Public Service agency based in Melbourne, our benefits are also attractive. We offer competitive salaries, 15.4% super, and generous leave entitlements, including paid parental leave and Christmas shutdown. We also have access to plenty of flexible working options, such as hybrid working, access to flex leave, working part time or compressed hours, and the ability to purchase additional leave.

So, walk us through the recruitment process at the ACNC

If a jobseeker finds a role with the ACNC they are interested in, the first step is to submit their resume and a written response on why they are a good fit for the role and express why they want to work at the ACNC. This is where they share their relevant skills and experience with us. 

We read all applications that are received. Suitable candidates are shortlisted to the next stage of the process, which typically involves an interview. Sometimes, there is a work-based activity or a work assessment as well. 

Those who perform well at the interview are added to a merit pool. This merit pool is then used to select the best candidate for the current position and can also be accessed to fill the same or similar vacancies for up to 18 months. 

Letters of offer will be made after the necessary reference checks and pre-employment checks. Throughout this process, regular email notifications are sent to keep candidates up to date on the process.

What are the top things you look for when assessing a candidate application?

Our selection processes are merit-based. When assessing an application, we consider the ‘ideal candidate’ for the role, and we evaluate each candidate’s skills, experience, and knowledge to determine suitability. 

Throughout the recruitment and selection process, we also consider personal qualities such as honesty, integrity, and cultural fit, including having empathy and understanding for the sector, as it is important that our people not only have the right skills but also can make ethical decisions and embody our cultural traits and Australian Public Service (APS) Values.

What’s the most common mistake you see candidates make in their applications?

A common mistake we see is candidates not tailoring their application or resume to the specific role, which makes it difficult to assess suitability against the selection criteria.

Candidates need to demonstrate they are the ideal candidate and have the right skills and experience for the position they are applying for, so it is important to take the time to share relevant work-related examples.

And if they make it to interview, who is a candidate most likely to meet on an interview panel at the ACNC?

Our interview panels are typically comprised of three people – usually a manager and another person from the immediate team, along with someone from another area of the ACNC to offer a different perspective. Depending on the role, we sometimes draw on a subject matter expert from the ATO, or another government agency.

We ensure gender diversity and a mix of expertise and experience on our panels. We value diversity at the ACNC and understand the importance of our employee profile being representative of the diverse community we serve. We know to do this we need to uphold a culture of belonging where unique experiences and perspectives are valued. 

We are committed to discussing any perceived bias in recruitment and removing any barriers. 

What advice would you give candidates to improve their interview skills?

The most important thing for a candidate to remember in the interview is to answer the question they are asked by providing relevant information or an example to demonstrate their skills and experience.

Interview questions are typically behavioural and aligned to the selection criteria for our ‘ideal candidate’. To prepare for an interview, it can be helpful to make a list of work examples in the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) format. When responding to interview questions, make sure the examples are recent and relevant to the role.

Finally, what advice would you give to someone who wants to work at the ACNC but perhaps doesn’t have the right qualifications or experience?

Many of our roles don’t specifically require a formal qualification, so if candidates have relevant and transferable experience then they are encouraged to apply, as we want to hire people with diverse work and life experience.

If they don’t think they are the ‘ideal candidate’ for a particular role at the moment, they can keep an eye out for other opportunities that do match their experience. There are variety of roles at the ACNC at different levels, so people can start in one position and progress to other opportunities. We invest in learning and development, with higher education paid programs and an internal talent register to encourage people learn new skills by working in other teams within the ACNC.

We advertise all our vacancies here on, as well as APS Jobs and ATO Careers, and they are all open for a two-week period. You can visit our ACNC Careers page for more information.

Thanks Christine!