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Responding to selection criteria

Often when you are applying for a position in the public sector or in education you will be expected to address a number of nominated selection criteria. This method of assessing your application is also being increasingly used in private sector organisations and may be specifically requested by any employer.

Application instructions do not always make clear what is required or how you should present and format your responses. If you are unsure, contact the employer to clarify what their expectations are. If no format is specified, it is usual to attach a separate document to your application, usually entitled ‘Responses to Selection Criteria’ or ‘Selection Criteria Addressed’.

Depending on the number of selection criteria and the length of your answers, this document may be three pages or more. While there is no strict guide to length, perhaps consider a third to half a page for each response. This can be in full sentence format or point form, with a combination of methods often used. The examples below indicate some appropriate responses and what criteria may look like.

Example 1 – Point form response

Criteria – Demonstrated high quality oral and written communication and interpersonal skills.

My high quality oral communication skills have been demonstrated by:

• Consulting with members of my team at CSIRO, representing them at managers meetings and presenting their concerns and new ideas.

• Presenting weekly talks on progress and challenges within my Honours project to audiences of between two and twenty peers and academic staff.

of between two and twenty peers and academic staff. My high quality written communication skills have

My high quality written communication skills have been developed through:

• Preparing research summaries, updates and reports for both technical and non-technical readers throughout my degree.

• Drafting letters and promotional material during my work as a volunteer for

• Editing and revising articles sent in to the University magazine prior to publication.

Interpersonal skills have been developed to a high level through:

• Cooperating with and supervising my colleagues in part-time employment.

• Approaching and talking to people about the voluntary cause I support and imparting information to people with different levels of understanding.

Example 2 – Paragraph format response

Criteria – Ability to work under pressure, meet deadlines and work as part of a team in a dynamic environment with limited supervision.

“ My ability in these areas has been demonstrated by working in a fast food restaurant over the past two years and was rewarded with promotion to team leader. In this role there is constant pressure to work quickly and efficiently with a focus on satisfying customer demands. Food must be served to high hygiene standards within a time-frame to both drive-through and in- restaurant customers. In doing so, I oversaw and worked within a team of eight staff providing support and encouragement and solving roster problems. While there was a duty manager present at all times, I worked autonomously, requiring little supervision in my role. ”



You may wish to draw on several experiences to illustrate how you meet the selection criteria, such as how your communication skills have been developed through being a youth group leader, or writing articles for a music magazine. It may be appropriate to submit an abridged version of your resumé when also sending a selection criteria document. Rather than merely duplicating the information contained in your resumé, try to add new information or elaborate more fully on your experiences to demonstrate attainment of the criteria outlined.

Along with your cover letter, the selection criteria document will be vital in displaying your written communication and language skills. Make sure you take the time to carefully construct your responses, check spelling and grammar, and have someone else read over your entire application.

The book How to Write and Talk to Selection Criteria by Dr Ann Villiers is available in the Careers Resource Centre and is essential reading if you’ve never encountered formal selection criteria before. Examples of how to tackle common criteria and tips on structure and preparation make valuable reading.

From Chapter 8 of How to Write and Talk to Selection Criteria, here are some techniques to improve your responses:

• Avoid unsupported self-aggrandisement

• Watch your verbs

• Address all parts of the selection criteria – don’t leave anything out!

• Use English well


• claims





• Be results-oriented

• Avoid credibility-reducing words, such as “I always/ never/ totally/ completely”.

© CAREERS & EMPLOYMENT Last updated February 2008