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Addressing selection criteria

How to write convincing statements that hit key points

Selection criteria are the skills, knowledge, and experience required to successfully do the job.

A key aim of a job application is to demonstrate that you meet the inherent requirements of the role. While a resume may offer an overview of your skills and experience, statements that directly address the selection criteria provide more detail about how you have demonstrated the competencies required to do the job. The employer can then compare candidates against the same set of criteria.

Where do I address selection criteria?

Keep the selection criteria in mind when describing your skills on your resume, but most employers will also expect you to address the selection criteria more directly elsewhere in your application.

Here are the most common formats for addressing selection criteria:

A statement of claims against selection criteria is a document where you will use each criterion as a heading and write a description of how you meet each one. Organisations that use this method of addressing selection criteria include government departments, non-government organisations (NGOs), universities and research institutes. They will request this document in the job advertisement or information package. Use the title the organisation has given this document and include the job title and reference number, if applicable, as well as your name as a header on each page. Deal with the criteria in the same order as in the advertisement or duty statement.

An online application may require you to address each criterion in a text box within an online form. This process is very similar to writing the statement of claims against selection criteria mentioned above. Alternatively, the selection criteria may be phrased as questions that you will need to answer in detail, for example:

  • “Can you describe a time you have successfully worked as part of a team?” (Selection criterion: teamwork skills)
  • “What have you gained from your studies in chemistry?” (Selection criterion: knowledge and skills specific to chemistry)
  • Why are you applying to work in our consulting department?” (Selection criterion: knowledge of and interest in consulting)

Online applications are commonly used by large organisations and in recruitment for graduate or internship programs.  

A cover letter in which you will address the selection criteria more briefly and in the format of a formal single page letter. Be aware that some organisations require that you write both a cover letter AND a statement against the selection criteria.

Examples of selection criteria

Selection criteria often fall into two main categories: essential and desirable. It is important to address both essential and desirable criteria to maximise your chance of being selected for an interview. Within these two categories, there are different types of criteria that refer to different requirements.

Usually a degree, diploma or other certified training course. Example: ‘A minimum four-year degree in Social Work, Psychology or related discipline.’

These can be technical, discipline-specific or transferable skills.

Technical example: 'Intermediate programming skills, preferably using Python and/or SQL.'

Discipline specific example: 'Sound research skills including the ability to conduct literature reviews and analyse data.'

Transferable example: 'Excellent time management skills including an ability to prioritise tasks and meet deadlines.'

This refers to duties or activities that you have performed before. Remember that experience can be gained through a variety of avenues including volunteering and extracurricular activities.

General example: 'Customer service experience.'

Specific example: 'Experience in arts administration, preferably within a gallery or museum.'

An understanding of a subject area through exposure, study or experience. Example: 'An understanding of marketing principles relevant to the FMCG industry.'

A good way to structure your examples is to use the STAR formula – Situation, Task, Action and Result.

How to address selection criteria

To address selection criteria in a one-page cover letter, see our cover letter tips and template

Your responses to the selection criteria in a statement of claims or online application form will be more detailed and contain enough evidence to convince the employer that you meet the job criteria. A simple one- or two-line answer will rarely be sufficient.

The key to writing a strong response lies in identifying examples of instances where you have clearly demonstrated the required competency. Use the STAR formula to construct your answer. About 80% of your answer should focus on the 'Action', describing what you did and how you did it.

Example selection criteria using STAR

Criterion: Demonstrated problem solving skills and initiative.

Situation – where, when, and context of your example.

As the event coordinator for the University’s Science in Media Society, I volunteered to organise a fundraising event for a cancer research facility while in the final year of my Communications and Media Studies degree.

Task – the task or problem to be solved.

Our budget was cut during the preliminary planning and I needed to devise a strategy on how to run the event with only half the funds I was anticipating.

Action – how you solved the problem, fulfilled the task or handled the situation. What did you do and how did you do it, that demonstrates the criterion you are addressing?

In the first instance, I calculated which expenses were critical and could be covered by our current budget. Next, I decided to make up the shortfall by approaching local businesses for sponsorship. I created an online flyer to outline the benefits of getting involved, such as positive publicity and the opportunity to raise their profile with high achieving students, and cold called 36 targeted businesses. To ensure a good attendance at the event I utilised my social media skills to activate a network of potential supporters, and advertise an attractive range of lucky door prizes.

Result – the outcome/s achieved as result of your action/s. Quantify the result where possible.

As a result of my actions I convinced 11 businesses to contribute funds which covered all outstanding expenses. The event attracted over a hundred attendees and raised $5000 for the research facility. I was also subsequently invited by the University’s student association to contribute to a development workshop for new student leaders, in recognition of the skills I had displayed in managing this event.

Tips for addressing selection criteria

  • When selecting examples, choose examples that are relevant to the criterion, the employer and the job. Where possible, select more recent examples, and use examples that give you the best opportunity to demonstrate your level of skill.
  • For most industries, you can choose examples from a range of different activities such as internships, casual work, volunteering, university projects and extracurricular activities.
  • If you are writing a statement of claims against selection criteria as a Word document, list criteria as headings in bold print, and address each criterion in a couple of paragraphs.
  • For criteria with more than one part, eg, ‘Effective written and verbal communication skills’, ensure you address each part.
  • Quantify your experience or outcomes if you can, eg, ‘three years’ experience in creating monthly budgets using Microsoft Excel’.
  • Use action-oriented words, eg, ‘assessed’, ‘implemented’, ‘organised’, and ‘developed’, that reflect the language used in the job description.  
  • Where you have extensive relevant experience to draw on, you can start your statement addressing a criterion with a brief summary of that experience and follow with one or two detailed examples.
Addressing all the criteria maximises your chance of being selected for an interview.