how to answer selection criteria

When applying for a role you will often be asked to respond to selection criteria along with providing a resume.

Selection criteria are used to rank candidates when shortlisting for interview. Often employers will not have the time to wade through all the resumes and cover letters received to determine whether each candidate has the skills and experience required. So your responses to the selection criteria are used to make this information more accessible to the employer. The best candidates may miss out on an interview if their responses to the selection criteria are not well written.

What to write

When responding to selection criteria you should state the degree to which you satisfy the criteria and identify two to three examples of when and how you have satisfied the criteria.

Whenever you provide examples these should be easily cross-referenced in your resume. Remember, the aim of your response is to demonstrate how your skills, experience and education will enable you to meet the criterion and perform the role.

Your opening claim

Your opening claim needs to state how you satisfy the criteria. For example:

Excellent oral and written communication skills

I have outstanding communication skills. In my role as Business Analyst at XYZ Pty Ltd I regularly communicate verbally and in writing….

Supporting your claim

Next you need to back up your claim. The STAR method is a useful tool to use when supporting your claim:

S = SITUATION

      • Provide a brief description of the situation you were in.
      • For example: In my role as Senior Tester at Department of ABC ….

T = TASK

      • Provide a brief description of what you were required to do.
      • For example: I wrote test plans, test cases and test scripts….

A = ACTION

      • Provide information on how you completed the task.
      • For example: I met with stakeholders to determine testing requirements….

R = RESULT

      • Provide information on the outcome of your action.
      • For example: I produced a comprehensive set of testing documents….

Check your response

Check your responses to ensure you:

  • only use words and phrases that support your credibility. Avoid passive language such as “I was involved in”, “I believe”, etc.
  • have no spelling or grammatical errors in the document.
  • keep formatting consistent throughout and use a font that is simple and easy to read. Time New Roman, Arial and Calibri are all well accepted.
  • have answered all components of each criterion. For example, both written and oral communication skills.

Formatting

Finally, be sure to:

  • address each criterion separately;
  • answer the selection criteria in the same order as in the advertisement;
  • state the criterion before each response. Highlight the criterion in bold print. For example:
    • Excellent work ethic.

I have a great attitude with an excellent work ethic. I am focussed and organised and enjoy…..

  • keep each individual response to about 250 words in length;
  • give your document a heading (e.g. Joe Bloggs Response to the Selection Criteria); and
  • include your name, page number and indication of role in the footer of each page.

For more information see our article on Understanding selection criteria.