Addressing selection criteria

Do your research before addressing selection criteria

Employers are interested in knowing the answer to three main questions:

  1. Can you do the job?
  2. Will you do the job?
  3. Do you fit into the organisation's culture?

Your job in the application process is to align what you bring with what the employer is looking for. Therefore, before you address each individual selection criterion (or cover letter or resume), do research. For example, you can only effectively answer the common selection criterion: "Why do you want to work for organisation X?" if you have done your research into the organisation.

You also need to do research into the organisation and the role because your answers to selection criteria need to make sense within the context of the position and organisation - they need to be tailored. For example, your answer to the selection Criterion: "Well developed use of a variety of software packages" will look different if you're applying for a job as a Statistician or as a Policy Analyst.

Speak to the contact officer for additional information or clarification.

Key words

In reading and responding to selection criteria, it is important to note 'key words' that employers use, and are looking for, to identify a level of knowledge, skills or experience required for the position. Targeting and using these key words is vital in demonstrating your understanding of and suitability for the particular requirements of the position. For example, the words "ability to" indicate that only a general level of skill is required, whereas "demonstrated" or "proven ability" indicates that applicants must have relevant work or other experience that clearly shows how they applied the skills in question.


Some organisations use the STAR-L approach, where the "L" stands for Learning. Further to describing the Situation, Task, Action and Results, you are asked to provide information about what you learned from the situation. An example:

"Describe a time when you worked on an ineffective team. What was the situation? How did you overcome the difficulty or issue? What would you do differently if faced with a similar situation now?"