Selection criteria

Selection criteria are the qualifications, skills, personal attributes and performance standards needed to perform the duties listed on the duty statement/position description. Employers use them to identify the most suitable person for the role. Sometimes selection criteria are stated in the selection documents or they may be implied. Depending on the selection process the selection criteria may be structured as a series of key questions or criteria which must be addressed.

Using the STAR approach for responding to selection criteria

Selection criteria will often be behaviourally-based. A good framework to use when addressing this type of question is the STAR (or CAR: Circumstance, Action, Result) approach:

Situation

Describe the situation that required you to use the skills the selection criterion is asking about.

Task

Within that situation, what were your responsibilities?

Action

Outline the skills you used (or developed) to carry out the task

Result

What were the outcomes of your actions?

  1. After you've written your response, ask yourself a number of critical questions:
  2. Does my answer address the question?  Is my response complete? An often forgotten element is the results (R). If you don't mention the outcome of your actions (A), the employer is left to wonder whether you actually contributed or did good work.
  3. Is my example appropriate / tailored to the position, and have I used my best example? As the goal of the application process is to align yourself as close as you can to the employer, make sure you use an example that reflects this alignment.
  4. Have I presented a spread of experiences? Employers like 'well-rounded' applicants, with breadth and depth of skill and diverse experience. Using different experiences as the basis for describing your skill development makes a good impression.

An example of a commonly asked selection criterion

Can you describe a time when you used effective teamwork skills?

I have been a committee member of the ANU Theatrical Society for the past 4 years (S). During this time I have worked with a small team to organise and promote our Society to students at O-week (T & A). Membership of the Society doubled over this period (R).

It is likely that the given word limit allows you to provide more. You could expand your example, therefore with additional skills, or information on 'how you did the job'. For example:

I have been a committee member of the ANU Theatrical Society for the past 4 years (S). During this time I have worked with a small team to organise and promote our Society to students at O-week (T). One year, I suggested changing the event in order to garner additional interest. In a team meeting, I used my interpersonal skills to work towards my goal (A). Following this meeting, the team members and I performed our tasks as agreed by the team. I consulted with team members to solve problems as they arose, drawing on others' expertise and strengths (A). Membership of the Society has doubled over this period (R).

Although more extensive, the expanded example is still a little generic. There are several extra skills added but because they are not directly linked to a concrete, explicit and specific example, it is still hard for an employer to make an assessment of their extent and level. In other words, make sure that you tailor your response to the organisation and position!

An alternative answer:

As a team member of the ANU Theatrical Society for the past 4 years, I helped to organise a yearly event at O-week to promote our Society and to attract new students (S). I took the initiative to suggest changes to the way in which this event was usually run with the goal to garner additional interest. This included updating promotional materials using my IT skills and showcasing short performances at regular intervals throughout the day (T). I convened a meeting to present my suggestions, making sure to provide my reasons for initiating change. I invited input and exchange of ideas and ultimately, my suggestions were adopted with minor adaptations. Following the meeting, I broke down the suggested changes into practical tasks. I identified and met with individual team members to draw on their strengths to help carry out these tasks (A). By recognising individual talents; drawing team members into the process; and working in pairs to complete tasks, our team was able to offer a more engaging recruitment strategy. We added another 40 members to our Association that year, which represented an increase of 20% (R).