Responding to selection criteria correctly is often critical for you to secure a role. How do you correctly write successful selection criteria responses?
So, you’ve identified a role you’d like to apply for but it’s requesting Key Selection Criteria – what next? KSC is a recruitment tool used predominantly throughout the public, not-for-profit and academic sectors which address the required skills, knowledge, experience and/or qualifications you must fulfil to be eligible for the job. The number of questions will vary widely depending on the organisation and role; some jobs specify word counts, others specify page limits, while some won’t specify at all (if this is the case, we would recommend writing up to 250 words per response). Bear in mind that failure to comply with these specifications is likely to result in your application being rejected, so take your time to assess the requirements and structure your responses concisely, but effectively.
Study the criteria
Pay strong attention when reading the selection criteria on the job advertisement and understand what is required before diving straight in. You will first need to consider how many words or pages are required; this can usually be found within the job advertisement, position description, or “how to apply” page; some jobs might even provide a contact for you to directly speak to. Once you’ve determined the maximum word count, look thoroughly at each criterion to determine what the main focus is, whether that be a skill, experience or qualification. For instance, “ability to work productively as a member of a small team” is based on teamwork.
Do your research
If you’re taking the time to address the key selection criteria, it’s fair to assume that you’re passionate about the role you’re applying for. So, increase your chances of being shortlisted by conducting research into the organisation and gain an insight of their company culture and values. You could use your own network to find out more, or simply google the company and explore their website. The more preparation you do, the better your answers will be as you can frame your answers around the type of employee they are looking for.
Map out your examples
Highlighting keywords in the selection criteria can help you identify what information is required for each criterion. Now you can pull together some examples of your work experiences that are relevant to the role you are applying for – note these down using bullet points under each criterion and then review your ideas. Each answer should have an example which demonstrates an effective outcome and utilises the skill or experience they are looking for, including quantitative results and measures of success if possible.
Give STAR responses
Once you’ve brainstormed ideas and responses for each criterion, remember that applicants with relevant and credible examples of the key criteria are more likely to make it to the top of the pile. A simple method that we would recommend is to apply the STAR approach:
- Situation: provide details about the situation you were in when you applied your competencies.
- Task: outline what your objective was during that situation.
- Action: describe how you approached the situation and what actions you took.
- Result: explain the outcome of your actions and whether the objective was met.
Your answers need to be specific, clear and concise but most importantly, relevant to the criterion with actual experience. Don’t go off on a tangent – words are valuable and only useful words are likely to progress you to the next stage of the recruitment process.
Choose your words carefully
As recruiters will scan your application instead of dissecting every answer, your words need to jump out and be worthy of further consideration. Where possible, you should use the same words and language used in the job advertisement and key criteria without regurgitating the information in your examples. When a recruiter sees relevant words that are linked to the position, they are likely to generate more of an interest in your application. In addition, avoid vague and passive language to really make sure your writing is clear and effective. With a maximum word count to typically bear in mind, you want to ensure that your words have maximum effect.
Devote time to check your work
Whether you’re proofreading your own answers or getting a fresh set of eyes to ensure you have used correct spelling and grammar, it’s always a good idea. Your strong attention to detail and written communication skills will demonstrate how much of a viable candidate you are; someone who takes pride in their work and corrects their errors. Now is your last opportunity to make sure you’ve addressed everything it’s asking for, and determine how effective your answers are. Last but not least; ensure your application is within the maximum word count specified on the job ad!
The process for writing Key Selection Criteria can be lengthy, so it’s important to sit down without distractions and address the criterion’s effectively to achieve the best results. Your efforts exerted into this process will determine whether you’re shortlisted for an interview or not. Make note of the application close date and try not to leave it until last minute for maximum effect – this will allow time to structure, review and edit your application.