selection criteria - Curtin University

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Selection Criteria...................................................................................Page 4
Hidden Selection Criteria.....................................................................Page 7
Undertaking a Skills Analysis .............................................................Page 8
Addressing Selection Criteria..............................................................Page 9
The STAR Model.....................................................................................Page 10
The SAO Model.......................................................................................Page 11
Tips for Addressing Selection Criteria................................................Page 12
References ............................................................................................Page 13
Notes......................................................................................................Page 14
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selection criteria
Selection criteria are the factors against which applicants are assessed to
determine their relative merit for a specific job. They summarise the specific
capabilities (knowledge, skills and abilities) required of applicants and are
derived from the duty statement associated with the job.
The process of addressing selection
criteria provides an opportunity for you to
explain, in detail, how you demonstrate
the knowledge, skills, abilities and
qualifications that the recruiter is seeking.
If selection criteria are part of a job
application, they will be the primary focus
in the initial selection process, so it is
important to address them carefully.
From the employer’s point of view, selection
criteria provide an equitable means of
measuring each applicant’s suitability to
perform the duties of an advertised position.
From the applicant’s point of view, it is
therefore paramount to respond effectively
to each selection criterion in order to
increase the chances of being short-listed
for an interview.
Schmidt and Hunter (1998) undertook a
meta-analysis of selection and recruitment
techniques. They found the most successful
predictor of future job performance was
a ‘work sample’ in which the potential
employee completed a week to a few
months of work on a trial basis, so the
employer could determine whether they
were appropriate for the position. However,
when there are many applicants to assess.
this practice is clearly not efficient.
By asking applicants to address selection
criteria, recruiters can make an initial
assessment of the match between past
experience and the requirements of the
advertised position.
Recruiters assess your selection criteria using
a marking key similar to the one below:
1 = Failed to meet the selection criterion (i.e.
unable to assess due to lack of information)
2 = Partially meets the selection criterion
3 = Meets the selection criterion
4 = Partially exceeds the selection criterion
5 = Exceeds the selection criterion
If you score 1 or 2 for any of the selection
criteria it is unlikely you will secure an
A good understanding of how employers
use selection criteria to make decisions can
assist you to to write more competitive job
selection criteria
Types of selection criteria
The five categories of selection criteria are:
Selection criteria are generally categorised as
‘essential’ or ‘desirable’. Essential criteria are
those most necessary to do the job. Employers
will often request that applicants only apply
for the advertised position if they meet all the
essential selection criteria.
Desirable criteria should also be addressed. In
a competitive environment these will become
more important. Your chances of being shortlisted for interview will be greater if you meet all
the selection criteria.
It is also important to be aware that selection
criteria may be weighted differently or equally.
Careful analysis of the duty statment may help
you identify which criteria are likely to be of
highest priority to the employer. A conversation
with the contact person listed for the position
may also provide some extra insight.
Categories of selection criteria
Selection criteria can be divided into five
different categories. You can structure your
response to each criterion depending on the
category of question you are responding to.
experience criteria (e.g applicant must
have experience in customer service);
skills-based criteria ( e.g. applicant must
have excellent communication and
interpersonal skills);
knowledge criteria (e.g. applicant must
have knowledge of OHS practices);
values criteria (e.g. commitment to
ongoing professional development);
finite criteria (e.g. applicant must have a
C class licence).
Selection criteria focussed on experience and
skills can be addressed using the STAR or SAO
approach. Refer to pages 10 and 11 for further
When addressing selection criteria about
knowledge, it is important to state whether
you do or do not currently possess the
required knowledge. If you do, you can
explain how you acquired that knowledge
and how you keep it up to date. You can
demonstrate your expertise by briefly
summarising what you know about the topic.
If you do not possess the knowledge, you can
state how and where you will get it.
Finite criteria often relate to qualifications
(e.g. “Tertiary qualification in Psychology,
Social Work, Community/Mental Health
Nursing or equivalent professional status
in a related discipline”). These require clear
statements indicating if you do or do not
meet the criterion. You may wish to highlight
specific areas of expertise or experience in
your response but it is not necessary to use a
SAO or STAR example in these instances.
Selection Criteria
Selection criteria that focus on attitudes
and values have become increasingly
popular in recent times. The Hudson
Highland Group (2005, 4) reports that
37% of recruitment managers believe that
cultural and organisational fit is the most
important factor to consider when hiring
new staff. It is therefore important, when
addressing selection criteria, to demonstrate
the alignment between your professional
attitudes and values and the strategic
direction, core business and mission
statement of the organisation you want to
work for.
When describing your attitudes and values,
you might explain:
why you believe these values are
important for this type of work;
how your attitudes might benefit the
organisation; and
how you have previously demonstrated
these values or attitudes, perhaps by
using the SAO or STAR models (see
page 10-11).
selection criteria Examples
When you sit down to write your responses
to the selection criteria it is helpful to analyse
each one separately, as you would when
answering essay or exam questions. This will
assist you to identify the main components
and stucture your statements accordingly.
Refer back to the criteria frequently to ensure
that you have adequately addressed each one.
The following examples of selection criteria
are available on the Career FAQs website. The
keywords are highlighted to illustrate the core
components of each one.
‘Sound oral and written communication
Ability to apply academic knowledge and
concepts to practical situations.
Proven experience using information and
Able to operate effectively in a team,
contributing positively to team operations
and working relationships.
Ability to contribute ideas and demonstrate
initiative and flexibility.
Demonstrated analytical and research
Demonstrated literacy, numeracy, accuracy
and attention to detail.
Ability to file, retrieve, shelve, and physically
organise materials in a high volume
Demonstrated client service focus and
experience in a client service environment.’
(Career FAQs 2011a)
hidden selection criteria
The selection criteria are the skills,
knowledge and experience considered
necessary to successfully perform the duties
of a position. As mentioned previously, the
document detailing your responses to these
criteria is the most important part of your
job application.
Selection criteria are often listed as part of a
duty statement, especially for government
positions. Applicants will usually also be
given a checklist list showing exactly what
material they are required to submit.
Selection criteria may also be ‘hidden’
within a job advertisement rather than
overtly listed. In these cases it is necessary
to analyse the advertisement for key words
relating to the requirements of the position
and to note the skills and attributes that the
employer is seeking. This information can
then be incorporated into a targeted resume
and a detailed cover letter. Alternatively,
you could prepare a separate document to
accompany the resume and letter as a more
formal way of demonstrating how you meet
the requirements of the position.
Here is an example of an advertisement
demonstrating hidden selection criteria:
Graduate Accountant
We are a progressive firm of Chartered
Accountants offering the opportunity to
become a key member of our expanding
Taxation / Business Services Division.
Our firm provides:
Career Development
Interesting and diverse client base
Excellent CA program support
The successful applicant will have between
0 – 12 months experience in a professional
office. We are seeking an individual who is
interested in starting the CA program and
who possesses excellent communication
skills, strong computer literacy including
knowledge of MYOB, and can demonstrate
Written applications with CV listing referees to:
HR Director
AAA Accountancy
Email: [email protected]
The key requirements necessary to
successfully fulfil this position are
underlined. By learning to analyse job
advertisements and then target your resume
to include the desired skills and attributes,
and respond to each of the requirements in a
cover letter, you will increase you chances of
getting an interview and being identified as a
competitive applicant.
Undertaking a Skills analysis
The Curtin Careers Centre recommends that
you prepare answers for some common
selection criteria before you even start
applying for jobs. One way to do this is to
undertake a personal skills analysis.
A skills analysis activity can assist you
to reflect on your current skill bank and
to document real life examples that
demonstrate these skills.
You could start this process by reflecting
on real life examples from your work
history, education and extracurricular
activities that demonstrate some of the eight
employability skills listed below:
Communication skills;
Team work;
Problem solving;
Planning and organising;
Initiative and enterprise; and
Technology skills.
These were idenitfied as the eight key
skills that Australian employers seek in
recent graduates following an analysis
of current business requirements funded
by The Department of Education, Science
and Training and the Australian National
Training Authority. You can access the
Employability Skills Framework at www.
The Curtin University Graduate Attributes
also provide a good starting point for a
skills analysis. These are listed in all your
Curtin University unit outlines the and
linked to your unit of study, so you should
always be able to provide examples from your
course of study if not from other activities.
You might find it helpful to create an Excel
spreadsheet or a Word document to record the
details of your skills analysis. Alternatively, you
could use Curtin University’s iPortfolio where
you can:
Collect evidence of your learning and
professional development;
Seek feedback and collaborate with others;
Showcase skills and accomplishments;
Highlight your job readiness to prospective
The Curtin Careers Centre highly recommends
the use of the Curtin iPortfolio system to
document the skills, abilitites and knowledge
you have developed over your years of study
at Curtin. Go to to
create your profile.
addressing selection criteria
It is a good idea to put yourself in the
employer’s shoes when addressing selection
criteria. What do you think they are looking
for in your responses to the selection criteria?
How can you make your document as clear
and easy to read and understand as possible?
The aim of addressing selection criteria is to:
• provide real life evidence demonstrating
your capability to do the job;
• provide specific details that you can not
document in a resume; and
• highlight your successes.
Before you start writing your responses
to the selection criteria it is important to
refer to the duty statement and to research
the company you are applying to. This can
help you to develop a picture of the skills,
abilities, knowledge and personal attributes
the employer is looking for. This process
makes it easier to identify which aspects
of your experience to highlight in your job
It is also very important to demonstrate to the
employer that you can follow instructions
when addressing selection criteria. Keep
within the word limit if one is set. If no word
limit is provided it is usually acceptable to
write approximately half a page per selection
You can include dot points in your responses
to selection criteria, but these should only
be used be used in combination with formal
prose. This is an opportunity to demonstrate
your written communication skills to the
Opening sentence
When addressing each selection criterion,
you should begin with an opening sentence
that clearly states how you meet the
criterion. For example, “I have acquired and
refined strong written communication skills
over the course of my career”.
A strong opening statement will convince
the employer to read further. It then needs
to be supported by detailed examples
demonstrating how you have applied these
skills in the workplace (or in other contexts if
workplace examples are not available).
The STAR or SAO models described on the
following pages provide useful frameworks
for presenting evidence when addressing
selection criterion. It is important to understand
how to apply these models because recruiting
employers often use them as a guide to score
responses to each criterion when shortlisting
tHE star mODEL
Good responses to selection criteria address
all parts of each criterion. They incorporate
the keywords (e.g. from the duty statement)
and include specific examples. Many wellwritten statements follow the STAR model or
the SAO model. STAR is an acronym for the
content and language).
Situation: briefly outlines the
circumstances surrounding the example.
Here is the response as it would appear in an
applicant’s job application.
Task: describes what you were required to do.
Action: outlines the steps you took to
complete the task.
Result: describes the outcomes of your
STAR Example
An advertisment for a senior project
officer (APS6) role included the following
selection criterion: ‘well developed
written communication skills’ (Bureau of
Meteorology 2011). Here is an example of an
applicant’s response broken down into its
STAR components.
S: Role as Research Support Officer at
Department of XYZ.
T: Needed to ensure that managers were kept
informed of policies and procedures.
A: Initiated a monthly newsletter which
was emailed to each manager. Took
responsibility for writing the main articles.
This involved obtaining ideas and input
from other stakeholders to ensure that the
articles reflected managers’ needs (in terms of
R: Feedback was consistently excellent.
Received divisional achievement award for
newsletter quality. Led to improved lines of
communication between managers and the
Research Support Unit.
‘As Research Support Officer at the
Department of XYZ, I needed to ensure that
managers were kept informed of policies and
procedures. To do this, I initiated a monthly
newsletter, which was emailed to each
manager. I took responsibility for writing
the main articles in each publication. This
involved obtaining ideas and input from
other stakeholders to ensure that the articles
reflected the needs of managers, both in
terms of content and language. I received
consistently excellent feedback in relation to
this newsletter from these internal clients
and my own manager. I also received
a divisional achievement award from
management for the quality of this
newsletter. Importantly, this initiative
resulted in improved lines of communication
between managers and the Research Support
Unit’ (Bureau of Meteorology 2011).
the SAO model
The SAO model is very similiar to STAR. In
this instance ‘task’ and ‘action’ are combined.
SAO is an acronym for:
Situation: briefly outlines the
circumstances surrounding the example.
Action: describes what you were required
to do and outlines the steps you took to
complete the task.
Outcome: Describes the results of your
SAO Example
The Career FAQs website provides the
following example of a selection criterion:
Demonstrate your ‘proven experience
using information and technology’ (Career
FAQS 2011b). Here their corresponding
sample response broken down into its SAO
S: Smithtown Medical Research Institute.
A: Source information, verify its origins and
analyse its implications.
Data management system.Used Internet, library website and databases, microfiche.
MS Office applications and Creative Suite.
Developed database, streamlined and
managed it.
O: No double handling of records, database
will be used in the future.
Here is the response as it would appear in an
applicant’s job application.
‘As part of my degree program I was required
to source information, verify its origins
and analyse its implications. I utilised
various technologies to undertake these
tasks including the Internet, online library
databases, and even microfiche. I am adept
with all Microsoft Office software and have
had some graphics experience with the
Creative Suite.
When I started working at the Smithtown
Medical Research Institute there was no
appropriate data management system that I
could use to manage the fundraising project
with local high schools.
I developed a database to manage the
contact information for all sponsors, which
also included records of when and why
they were contacted, what the sponsorship
agreement comprised and how it would be
delivered. I managed this system throughout
the project and ensured that it streamlined
communication and information sharing
amongst the project team members.
My initiative resulted in a streamlining
of effort with no double handling, a clear
record of activities undertaken and a
database for future use for fundraising
efforts’ (Career FAQs 2011b).
tIPS FOR addressing Selection criteria
Be specific. It is important that you use
real life examples and describe exactly
what you did, including the outcome/
Address all the elements of every
Choose professional examples relevant
to the role you are applying for.
Be logical and consistent. Your
responses to the selection criteria should
be clearly linked to the information
provided in your resume and cover letter.
Use positive language. ‘Words and
phrases that could reduce credibility
should be avoided (e.g. some, a
little, limited, somewhat) ‘(Bureau of
Meteorology. 2011). Avoid the temptation
to understate or overstate your
‘Use action words and avoid using
passive language when describing your
experience. For example, “I received
consistently excellent feedback in
relation to this newsletter from these
internal clients and my own manager’,
is better than simply stating ‘feedback
in relation to this newsletter was
consistently excellent”’(Bureau of
Meteorology. 2011).
Avoid unsupported claims.
‘Don’t just feed their words back to them
- make every sentence count by focusing
on what you have to offer’ (Australian
Disability Clearinghouse on Education
and Training. 2004).
‘When each criterion is given a weighting
of importance you should dedicate
a proportionate amount of detail to
each part’ (Australian Disability
Clearinghouse on Education and
Training. 2004).
‘When a statement asks for
qualifications or some or some other
information that is finite, the length
can be shorter’ (Australian Disability
Clearinghouse on Education and
Training. 2004).
Present your responses to selection
criteria in a separate document to your
resume, unless otherwise instructed by
the employer.
Address each criterion individually.
Make sure your document is easy to
read. Use dot points incorporated
into paragraphs if necessary, use neat
formatting, clear headings (lots of white
space) and 10-12 size font.
Allow approximately 250 words or ½
page per criterion unless there is a
specific word limit.
Avoid abbreviations.
Use correct, formal grammar and
concise sentences.
Proofread. Ask someone else to check
your application for typos before you
submit it.
Always follow specific instructions
provided by the employer.
Bureau of Meteorology. 2011. Guide on addresing selection criteria for applicants. Australian Government. (acessed January 21, 2011).
Career FAQS. 2011a. Sample selection criteria responses.
selection-criteria-tips/1345/Sample-selection-criteria-responses (accessed January 21, 2011).
— 2011b. Selection criteria sample: Proven experience using information and technology.
tioncriteriatips/sampleselectioncriteria/1223/Selection-criteria-sample-technology (accessed January 25, 2011).
Hudson Highland Group. 2005. HR insights: Getting smart about talent managment. The Hudson Report: Employment and HR Trends Part 2 (Oct-Dec).
Schmidt, F., & J. Hunter. 1998. The validity and utility of selection methods in personnel psy
chology: Practical and theoretical implications of 85 years of research findings. Psychological Bulletin 124 (2): 262-274.
Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training. 2004. Addressing job
application selection criteria. Fact Sheet. RDLO & DCO Initiatives.
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