How to address key selection criteria

Selection criteria are statements that relate to the qualifications, knowledge, skills and experience required to do a specific job. Employers use key selection criteria (KSC) to ensure that they fairly and consistently assess the suitability of each applicant, and they’re a standard part of many job applications, especially for government positions.

Understand the key selection criteria

Start by reviewing the position description in detail. Highlight key words or phrases and pay attention to the language used in the criteria, noting the difference between things like ‘understanding of’ and ‘experience in’. If you are unsure about any aspect of the job requirements, contact the employer for more information.

Selection criteria are generally categorised as ‘essential’ or ‘desirable’. Essential criteria are not negotiable and will play a critical role in determining whether or not you are selected for interview. Desirable criteria increase your chances of being interviewed and are advantageous, but not essential to the role.

Selection criteria are generally listed in order of importance and it’s vital that you respond to each and every criterion, from the essential right through to the desirable. If you fail to address all of them, you’re unlikely to get shortlisted.

You need to realistically assess if you have the experience and skill set the employer is looking for. If you don’t meet a minimum of 70 to 80 per cent of the selection criteria requirements, you need to question if it’s worth your effort applying for the role.

Brainstorm possible examples

Think about specific examples or situations where you have demonstrated the skills, knowledge or qualifications specified. You can go beyond your employment experience and draw on examples from your studies, extracurricular activities and volunteer work. Even if you’re applying for jobs in a different industry, you will have transferable skills that are relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Structure your responses

Your responses need to be specifically tailored to each criterion and should be written clearly and concisely, following a set structure and providing concrete examples that demonstrate the particular skill or experience being asked for.

The ‘STAR’ technique is commonly used to structure selection criteria responses:

Situation – the context or background of the situation
Task – what was required of you
Action – what you did and how you did it
Result – what the outcome of your action was

The language you use should be strong and contain action verbs that substantiate your claims. Keep your responses factual, positive and achievement focused. Use a few sentences to describe the Situation, Task, Action and Result, and go further by identifying what you have learnt from the experience.

Formatting your responses

Make a separate document and type all the selection criteria in the same order they appear, exactly as they are written. You may choose to title the page, ‘Responses to Key Selection Criteria’ or ‘Statement of Claims’.

Use each selection criterion as a heading and then write your response underneath. Make sure your answers are succinct and relevant. Keep the length of each response to around half a page unless otherwise specified, and always comply with word limits and formatting guidelines. You may want to use bullet points to keep things concise and focused.

Always answer each selection criterion individually and never join your responses together, even if there’s overlap in some of the responses.

Last but not least, proofread your responses carefully to ensure that you have answered each criterion appropriately and that there are no spelling or grammatical errors.

Writing well-crafted KSC responses is a skill, and the better you get at it, the greater your chances of being selected for an interview.

If you don't know where to begin, have a peek at our sample selection criteria responses here

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