Creating a selection criteria-based application

Selection criteria provide a clear and focused statement of what the organisation is looking for in the ‘right’ candidate for a job. They state the knowledge, skills and abilities a candidate needs to succeed in a job. 

  • Some criteria are called ‘selection criteria’ or ‘mandatory criteria’ - a candidate must have these characteristics to be considered for a position. 
  • Other criteria are ‘desirable’ - meeting these criteria, or being on the way to meeting the desirable criteria, suggests that the candidate will be suited to the position (assuming that they have met all of the other criteria).

The selection criteria is located in the Position Description and is sometimes included in the job advertisement.

Selection criteria are used by organisations as part of their recruitment process. All potential candidates are required to address a selection criterion, which means that candidates can then be assessed on a merit basis by their response to selection criteria.

Selection criteria lingo – “What do they really mean when they say…”?

‘Demonstrated ability…’:

You do not need to have done this kind of work before, but you need to describe how your skills, knowledge and experience show that you are capable of doing this part of the job.

‘Knowledge of …’:

Experience in this criterion will not be essential; however, you will need to provide evidence of your knowledge of the specific subject and how you have learned this (not necessarily within a work place).

‘Effective’/ ‘proven’/ ‘well developed’/ ‘superior’:

This type of criterion related to the breadth and depth of your demonstrated experience, use achievements and accomplishments to highlight the level of skill.

‘Demonstrated experience…’:

You must have proven experience in this criterion. Evidence of this will need to be provided by specific examples of where, when and how you have done this. You should also include the outcome of the situation to explain how effective your actions were.

‘Ability to acquire…’:

This provides you with the opportunity to meet the criterion without having the skills or experience stated. You must, however, explain how you have learnt another skill or qualification easily and how you have adopted this knowledge in the workplace.

Your statement addressing the selection criteria needs to demonstrate how your previous experience, skills, education and training have equipped you to meet the requirements of the position. 

How it should look

  • Create a separate page for each criterion and a separate document for each part of your application.
  • Include your name, position / position number you are applying for and page numbers in either the header or footer of the document on every page.
  • Keep to a maximum of one page per criterion.
  • Don’t reduce margins and fonts to squash information in. Reduce the amount of text by removing unnecessary words and use dot points where appropriate.

What it should say

  • Start with a brief statement.
  • Support this with examples of your experience, knowledge, skills, and personal qualities relevant to that criterion.
  • Focus on the results that you achieved to turn them into ‘winning’ statements.
  • Use action words; “I have”, not “I will”
  • Avoid infinite and general statements, e.g. “I always…”, “I never…” 

Use the STAR model

When you state examples, either through your selection criteria or during an interview, make sure you communicate the whole story. The situation in which you acted, what you did and the results of your actions. An easy way to remember this is to use the word STAR to describe a complete behavioural example. 
S - Situation (where) / T - Task (why) 

The situation or task is the background or context in which you took action. It explains what position you were in to act the way you did. 

An example of this would be, where you work, your role and sometimes more specifically the role you played in accordance with the example you are providing. 
A - Action (what and how) 

Actions are what you said or did in response to a situation or task and how you said or did it. Actions are the heart of the STAR because they show your behaviour. 

An example of this would be an incident that happened within your role, your explanation of this and the steps you took to rectify the situation. 
R - Result (the effect) 

Results are the effects of your actions. They tell what changes or difference your actions made and whether your actions were effective and appropriate. 

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