Addressing Selection Criteria

Introduction Many people don’t get past the first post with their job applications for Public Sector positions because they haven’t prepared their application according to the requirements. You cannot effectively write a job application for either short or longer term positions without a job and person specification for the position, and remember job and person specifications do change. When writing ‘full applications’, i.e. includes a resume, responses to the person specification of a job description and covering letter, you must always address the criteria found in the Person Specification to ensure the best possible chance at selection for an interview. You will find that Job and Person specifications vary across agencies/departments, however, they are generally written in terms of ‘merit’ and increasingly in ‘outcome’ terms.

What is Selection Criteria? Selection criteria are a list of skills, experience, and knowledge that are considered to be either essential or desirable in an applicant for them to successfully perform the duties of the position.

Why are they used? Under Equal Opportunity legislation it is illegal to appoint a candidate on the basis of anything but their ability to do the job in question. So selection criteria are used to find • the best person for the job; and • as benchmarks against which each applicant is measured - keep panel focussed on type of employee it should select. Each applicant is rated on how well or closely they meet each of the criteria and then ranked against the other applicants. These Selection Criteria are used to: • indicate essential and desirable factors in successful job performance—for use by applicants and selection panel members • • • • • • • • determine who gets shortlisted—e.g. anyone who does not satisfy the essential criteria is omitted from interview determine the most appropriate types of selection methods indicate the areas of concern for interview questions determine the topics to be addressed in referee checks measure applicants by rating them against the selection criteria determine who has won on merit because they are the best person for the job compare and distinguish between applicants in terms of explaining and justifying the panel’s decision give applicants’ focused and useful feedback

who may have 100 applications to assess. However. concise.Why selection criteria must be addressed The selection panel is required to assess each applicant in terms of how well they meet the selection criteria. to wade through your résumé and covering letter trying to find the relevant information about you that relates to each criterion. easy to read. it is not up to the selection panel. The onus is on you to clearly demonstrate your value—it is not up to the selection panel to ‘guess’ or ‘decipher’ this from your application. therefore it must be well set out. This will assist the panel to rate your application against the selection criteria and against other applicants. Shortlisting of applicants is based on the applicant’s ability to convince the selection panel that they can meet the essential and desirable skills necessary to perform the job. A panel often will only have time to read your application once. . clear and relevant. Many good applicants are overlooked because they don't clearly address the selection criteria and assume that the panel will be able to “read between the lines” in their résumé. and to decide who to shortlist for interview.

To write your responses. For example: ‘Proven ability in planning and organising skills’ means that you must write what you have done and achieved in these areas. Demonstrated. Background In Background in is often used in reference to educational qualifications or areas of specialisation (for example. Some of these are: • Experience in. Extensive. accounting or marketing). Understanding Of. To appreciate a matter you need both knowledge and understanding. Appreciation of implies you have a deeper understanding about a matter. Appreciation of. ‘demonstrated knowledge of project management’ suggests that you need more than a passing familiarity with this subject. who it serves. Awareness Of. Capacity To. means must write what you have done in meeting these responsibilities. Knowledge of a matter refers to familiarity gained from actual experience or from learning/training. For example: ‘an appreciation of cultural barriers experienced by sections of the community’ would mean knowing what the . However. as subtle differences can mean a different approach to wording your response. Following is a brief explanation of the meanings of these phrases. and what the implications are for related policies. An understanding . Responsible for indicates a high level of accountability and once again. Appreciation of These expressions are often used in reference to government policies such as EEO and OH&S. and specific responsibilities of the work area. Proven ability in means that you must be able to substantiate any claims to the experience or skill. Responsible for Experience in means you must have practical experience with the matter. to understand the policy means you know why the policy was established.Key expressions found in person specifications The selection criteria or essential minimum requirements often use key phrases which indicate the type of required skill or ability. For example. means you must show that you have performed jobs/tasks using a word processor with spreadsheet packages. Awareness of involves perhaps the least amount of familiarity with a subject and can mean little more than a realisation of a matter. High Level of. preferably indicating outcomes that you have attained. Careful attention should be paid to the degree of skill or knowledge required. It requires comprehension of the subject matter and perception about the significance of it. Knowledge Of. There are subtle differences between these four terms. Experience In. • Awareness of. • Ability To. For example. For example: ‘Experience in the use of computer packages including word processor and spreadsheet packages’. Responsible for. • Well Developed. Understanding of is more than knowledge. you may have knowledge of an organisational policy in so far as you have read it and perhaps even applied some sections of it. and Contributes to. have literally done the work as distinct form observed it or only had training in it. Proven ability in. Proven ability in. Knowledge of. you must understand what these words mean. how and why it is important.

and having ideas to address this issue. the impact they have. . understanding why they exist and how they operate. what is or could be done to eliminate them.barriers are.

knowledge and attitude (competency) to do the task required. These terms indicate that any statements/claims that you make must be soundly supported with concrete examples that show some breadth and depth of experience/and or capability. (Villers. It is recommended that you check and clarify with the contact person any doubts you have about the meaning/requirements of each criteria. then the ability to manage time. These terms include well developed. and require. You need to have a clear understanding of what they are looking for.Capacity To. extensive and high level of. 2000. and set and meet specific time-lines may be needed. beginning page 34) . Capacity can mean able to or qualified to perform a task. Ability To These words suggest degrees of ability. Added to these key phrases are other terms which distinguish the level to which they are needed. It suggests that you have the necessary skill or quality but may not have demonstrated it to any major extent. delegate. demonstrated. Ability means having the skills. Chapter 7. then the ability to communicate sensitively and display empathy may be needed. For example if the job requires a person to handle sensitive information in a professional manner. This is where transferable skills could be used to demonstrate capacity such as in Community Service tasks undertaken. prioritise. Another example could be if a person was required to organise work and follow through to completion. before you can effectively write to each of the criteria because as you can see. there are subtle differences between these phrases.

is being seen as critical to quality performance. rather than the individual or office group. it covers the key skills and abilities frequently mentioned in Person Specifications that are currently considered essential and desirable in employees. The previous list can be divided into three broad headings: ! work as part of a team ! interacting with people ! managing your own performance Work As Part Of A Team Increasingly the team. and follow-up outstanding matters As a team-leader you can generally be expected to: • supervise. plan and complete tasks. As a member of a team you can generally be expected to: • take an active part in meetings and group discussions • make objective and constructive suggestions about the teams goals and activities • contribute to planning and determining outcomes • produce results on time and within set budgets • produce accurate work • supervise and train others • • • contribute to the teams performance. Managers are seeking people who can work in and contribute to a team. including providing suggestions for continuous improvement work with a minimum of supervision organise.Skills and Abilities Frequently Sought The range of skills and qualities sought in applicants frequently include: • • • • • • • • • • • • work in a team work under pressure work with limited supervision attention to detail good management of time research communication problem-solve negotiation liaison organisation flexibility This list is my no means exhaustive. physical and financial resources • manage performance and provide feed-back . coach and train others • provide leadership and direction • set team goals and objectives • manage human. either as a participant or team-leader. co-ordinate. however.

all internal and external customers. and to work effectively with people outside of the team/office including other government agencies and people of the public. think carefully about your performance and behaviour in the workplace. i. These skills are needed work as part of a team/office group. This change has brought about the concept of working in teams along with the ability to also be self-reliant. changing policies and procedures. and you have a willingness to put in extra time if a deadline needs to be met. to take responsibility for one’s own behaviour and to contribute to the workplace. Time-management can be demonstrated by such things as punctuality. Working under minimal supervision means you know who you are accountable to and what the limits of your work are. Flexibility is a quality being increasingly sought since work life and work places are undergoing continuous change. Key skills in this area include communication and customer service skills. managing an in-tray etc. performance development and career development.• • • develop a participative and cooperative environment minimise conflict problem-solve Interacting With People Viller’s (2000. meeting deadlines.’ Increasing attention is being placed on people skills and people management. This is supported and reinforced by developments in enterprise bargaining. and embracing technology to name a few. you can work effectively and honestly in using and managing your time. Managing your own performance means: • demonstrating initiative and flexibility • • • • • being productive and ethical (including confidentiality and honouring commitments) completing to a high standard the work allocated to you being able to deal with conflicting priorities and multiple tasks managing your time following up on outstanding matters Therefore. will be left behind.e. new location. To demonstrate your ability to be flexible and adaptable to change you could include partaking in change processes (such as contributing positively. page 50) and many other researchers highlight that ‘Skill in building and maintaining relationships with people will continue to be critical in most jobs. . you can be trusted to get on with you work without constant supervision. Those who are unwilling and unable to adapt to different circumstances such as new work structures. prioritising and planning daily work according to what is urgent and important. learning and applying new skills. when responding to these criteria. Broadly you need to demonstrate such abilities as: • being aware of cultural and diversity issues • effective listening • negotiate for win-win outcomes • liase and consult with people • co-operative and collaborate effectively • convey information and ideas to people • receive and understand information and ideas from others • build a network of contacts Managing Your Own Performance There has been a strong move in the last decade to move away from being reliant on a supervisor/manager for all instructions.

In order to gain a new position. beginning page 48) . challenging and personally developing—sometimes these are the tasks that on the surface appear dull and are avoided by others. 2000. you need to have a good understanding of your abilities. you may need to consider taking on tasks and jobs that ‘take you out of your comfort zone. So look out for these opportunities as they can be far and few between! (Villiers. In summary. Chapter 9. i. they are new.e.developing plans/policies for new work practices and being on reference groups.) and at any time. committees etc. strengths and weaknesses. making suggestions to improve work processes.

give name of subject where you most obtained the skills. it is better to prepare a separate document. to maximise your chances of being considered further. the favourable comments made by your employer. previous work experience. skills. work in the community) • Provide specific details (for example . where there are several essential and desirable criteria to address. or the amount you raised as part of a fundraising activity) If there are only one or two Selection Criteria specified in the advertisement. education and training have equipped you to meet the requirements of the position. include an indicator of success or a result (indicate the grade you achieved for the project. or mention the specific duties in your job where you gained the experience) • where possible.if using your degree studies. Remember that the selection panel will generally only interview those applicants who demonstrate that they meet all of the essential criteria of the person specification. you could address them in your cover letter. However. Therefore. This document would accompany your resume and cover letter. you must demonstrate in your application that you: • meet all the essential requirements of the person specification • are capable of carrying out the duties of the position concerned • can meet all or most of the desirable requirements of the person specification The Key is: • Demonstrate you have the skill by providing the evidence (quote from degree studies. .How do you address selection criteria? Your statement addressing the selection criteria needs to demonstrate how your previous experience.

list each criterion as a subheading using exactly the same wording as appears on the Person Specification form. STATEMENT ADDRESSING THE SELECTION CRITERIA FOR THE POSITION OF RECREATION AND TRAILS OFFICER Your name The following information is provided as evidence of my ability to meet the Selection Criteria for the above position. Step 2: Subheadings Use the ‘Essential Criteria’ and ‘Desirable Criteria’ as main headings. non-verbal. listening. This 6-step approach will help guide you in addressing selection criteria. eg.6-Step Approach to Addressing Selection Criteria There are a number of things you can do to make your selection criteria statement effective and easy for the selection panel to read.underlining keywords may be useful so you can break them down into meaningful components. Step 3: Identify what they are looking for Read each criterion carefully and highlight/underline each area of skill or experience indicated as being required. the word ‘communication’ can include meanings such as verbal. questioning and feedback. “Excellent verbal communication skills” Make sure you list each criterion in the same order as the selection criteria. your name. Step 1 Main Heading and opening sentence Start with your heading. . Identify specific factors . negotiation. and your opening sentence. then under the appropriate Main Heading. The first thing you need to do is to make it a separate attachment from your résumé and covering letter. For example.

I have …’ This is an example of a previous situation where you have demonstrated a particular skill or ability giving consideration to what tasks were involved.Step 4: Match the criterion to your skills set by brainstorming For each skill set in each criterion brainstorm experiences from different aspects of life that support your claims for the criterion..' ! This is very useful if you want to emphasise that you have lots of experience. • Research and preparation of university assignments and reports. Step 5: Expand on your brainstorming ideas .. For example: ! ! 'I have over four years' experience using Microsoft OUtlook on a daily basis. Think of specific examples.' 'I am responsible for supervising the day-to-day work of five staff .” You should then support this statement. • Committee member IPAA (elected position) • Experience in the preparation of reports.provide the evidence Expand on the points you have jotted down as part of your brainstorming activity in Step 4. Indicate the extent of your experience in relation to a particular criterion. for example: • • • • • Previous and current employment Community Activities Volunteer Work Placements/Work Experience Sporting Clubs/Team Activities • • • • • Recreational Activities Fundraisers Awards Publications Educational Studies Look for evidence of transferable skills and abilities. drawing on a variety of experiences..g... e.. by highlighting your relevant skills and experience by describing your major responsiblities in current or previous employment. number of years' experience. ! ! Use an introductory assertion or opening sentence such as ‘I possess a high level of skill in…’ ‘My communication skills are demonstrated by. you may prefer to be vague about how much you have! . or how you would apply the skill or ability. You will need to be very specific and write down exactly what you did in order to demonstrate convincingly that you can meet each criterion. etc. such as . Such as ‘In my role of …. If your experience is limited. number of staff supervised. • Three years customer service experience at Transport SA • Delivered presentations to X agencies on X issues. you may have performed similar work but in a different context (for example working in customer of service in the Hospitality Industry may give you transferable communication skills that relate to liaising with corporate clients). briefing papers. An example . I am able to use advanced features of the program.your rough notes “Highly developed oral and written communication skills.. While you may have not carried out a particular duty.” • Completed topic in communication skills at university.

researching background information. use the active voice and say: “As the person responsible for editing final copy. etc. and preparing and distributing agendas. Make sure you use positive.. Committee. taking minutes.. minutes and reports for the XYZ Committee. by providing support or evidence of achievements. try the STAR method as follows: S = Situation – brief outline of the setting T = Task ... or 'Dreamweaver' subjects studied as part of award courses.. ‘this resulted in…’. As a Guide to help you to be specific. ‘I have improved…’ You could also do this by referring to feedback you've received from others. Where possible.. mention the same kinds of tasks and responsibilities as are listed in the advertised duty statement. such as ‘Proofing and Editing Documents’. such as Occcupational Health and Safety.. strong. Instead. I have become adept at spotting omissions and inaccuracies” . These might include: ! ! details of any relevant training courses you've attended. such as ‘the attached statement from …’. what was involved in the process.! Briefly give details of one or two specific things you've done that are good examples of your ability to meet the criterion. For example: Selection Criterion: Prepare agendas. specific language Avoid using the passive voice as in “My ability for detailed work has allowed me to spot omissions and inaccuracies before information is published or distributed” (passive voice).' ! Expand your previous statement by describing (step by step).how you did it R = Result .. reports and minutes. or things you've set up that are still being used. indicate how successfully you meet the criterion. My responsibilities have included organising meetings.. This involved . For example: ! ! 'A report I wrote about . was well received by the .what you did A = Approach or Action you took . Project Management. 'I have been project officer to a number of senior level committees.outline any outcomes Deal with each brainstormed idea in this manner. For example: ! 'I was responsible for organising a large seminar attended by 100 staff.' ! Where possible. and circulated as a discussion paper.' 'The accounting spreadsheet system I introduced two years ago is working effectively and staff say that they find it easy to use.' ! Mention any relevant qualifications and training you have. particularly if your experience is limited.

Avoid vague words and expressions like assisted. was involved in or helped. . These don’t say what you specifically contributed or did. This sounds much more positive and outlines your specific contribution. So rather than “I helped produce a newsletter” you might say: “I formatted and edited the newsletter”.

checking for clarity of expression. or oversold yourself? Have you avoided unsupported claims about your abilities? “There is ample evidence of my excellent communication skills in my resume.Step 6: Check Your Work You should have someone else read your responses. analytical and research skills – you will need to provide evidence of your ability to meet all three elements. Consider the following: Is the language active. strong and specific? Have you undersold. Have you given the information that shows you are the best candidate for the job? Proof read for grammar and spelling. Have you addressed all aspects of the criterion? For example. I have no doubt about my ability to effectively communicate with superiors and subordinates” This claim is based on your personal opinion and doesn’t offer any supporting evidence.Well developed conceptual. . correct grammar and spelling as well as how accurately you have responded to each criterion. with this Selection Criterion .

• If applications are to be sent via e-mail avoid the use of fancy fonts that may not be part of the recipients library. . e.TIPS Imagine you are a selection panel member reading your application. policies or procedures. and how many factors make up the criterion.’ Layout • Where appropriate use dot points in your answers to help with clarity – it will make your application easier to read. vacancy reference number or title and page number on each page. Length • Although there are no hard and fast rules. the suggested length of the response should be between 1 to 3 paragraphs per selection criterion. • Ensure there are no errors (eg. 'flexibility'.g. • Make sure that any information you include is directly relevant to the position. 'ability to maintain confidentiality' knowledge or experience you have which you believe is important to the job. working to a deadline is important. and this is a skill I have demonstrated on numerous occasions throughout my tertiary studies and tourism sector experience. telephone numbers and e-mail addresses) and that your sentences are grammatically correct. For example. don't just ignore it – your failure to address it will 'stand out like a sore thumb'! Be prepared to write something about your understanding of the relevance of the criterion – convince the employer that you possess the potential to satisfy it. Remember some points will need to be expanded on in more detail. how does it sound—convincing. ! Preface the examples you use with a short overview statement which clearly indicates that you meet the criterion. Examples of things you could mention include: • skills and abilities which you think are important and which haven't been mentioned in the selection criteria. although this will depend on the level of the position being applied for. place each selection criterion on a separate page with the selection criterion stated at the top of every page.g. knowledge of particular University systems. ‘In preparing for any exhibition. irritating. Providing Additional Information At the end of your selection criteria statement you may like to add any extra information that you believe is relevant to the job. Other Presentation Tips • Put your name. • If your responses are lengthy. and which reflects your understanding of the relevance/importance of that specific criterion. Alternatively you could refer to it in your covering letter. e. off-putting? Would you be keen to interview this person? What assumptions are you making about this applicant? Are you keen to meet and interview this person? Content ! Don't be too concerned about any overlap of examples you use for the criteria. ! When you come across a selection criterion that you cannot satisfy. but try to provide a different slant in each case.

other agencies and members of the public. I have written a large number of documents including memos and articles in an office newsletter. I would update the job description and brief the agency on all aspects of the job to ensure they understood our requirements. I initiated a monthly newsletter. Managers would phone me to request a temporary staff member and I would personally meet with them to discuss their requirements.’ Many answers received by selection panels are not sufficiently detailed for panels to make a full assessment of the applicants’ claims. My written communication skills are also well developed and I have utilised these skill in writing the following documents: ! ! ! Updating job descriptions.’ In this example. Let’s have a look at the reworked answer. Feedback received in relation to this newsletter was excellent and resulted in improved lines of communication between managers and the Human Resources.’ . and Writing memos to office staff. I wrote an article in each publication and encouraged other staff members to submit an article or I obtained their ideas and input. ‘I possess well developed oral and written communication skills which I have utilised throughout my working career. Generally a three or four sentence response would not be considered sufficient. In particular. This process required well developed communication skills to ensure I acquired an accurate understanding of the job and clearly communicated this to the agency. As Human Resource Officer I was required to keep managers informed of policies and procedures. in my role as Human Resource Officer at XZY Agency. I liaised on a daily basis with senior managers. on a range of recruitment and procedural matters. one of my key responsibilities was to organise temporary support staff for various areas within XZY Agency.SAMPLE ANSWER Let’s have a look at a selection criterion common to many roles. Here is an example of a response which would not be sufficient based on the above selection criteria. Using the 6 Step Process described earlier. email and by telephone and I was frequently commended for the professional manner in which I carried out these duties. let’s try to improve this answer so the applicant has the best chance of being invited to interview. ‘Well developed oral and written communication skills as evidenced by the ability to liaise with a range of clients at all levels. As a result. the broader view has been taken without the applicant outlining how they specifically met the criteria. At XZY Corporation I was required to liaise regularly with people at all levels ranging from senior managers to staff. staff at all levels. The wording may vary and depend on the level of the position applied for. For example. Writing articles in a monthly newsletter. Most of the communication was face to-face. To do this. ‘I possess well developed communication skills which I have gained throughout my working career. highly suitable staff were hired .

The above response shows how the applicant gained relevant skills. give examples and outlines detailed of what they did. This response could continue by expanding upon further examples. . The response also gives successful outcomes for all the people involved.

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