Is writing Key Selection Criteria the bane of your job application process?



Key Selection Criteria – those 3 words strike terror into many people who are job hunting.  Providing responses to Key Selection Criteria is often confusing, difficult to write and always time consuming.  Do you avoid applying for roles because you struggle to write responses to the criteria?  When you break the process down into steps, addressing Key Selection Criteria doesn’t have to be stressful. Following are my top tips on how you can make the process a little easier:


  1. Before you commence addressing the Key Selection Criteria take some time to research the role that you are applying for. Read the position description thoroughly.  Call the contact person for the role to gather further information.  You can ask questions about what a typical day or week might look like, the structure and size of the team, or what challenges you may face within the role.  By gaining a greater understanding about the role you can then picture yourself in that position and address the criteria from that perspective.


  1. Brainstorm ideas from your most recent positions that demonstrate the skills requested within each criteria. Try to generate as many ideas as possible so you can choose the most relevant example.  Be aware that some examples may address multiple criteria, take the time to review the examples and place them with the most appropriate criteria.


  1. Use the STAR method to respond to each criterion. STAR stands for:
    • Situation – Describe the situation or environment that you were in, in detail.
    • Task – What did you need to accomplish or do to fix the situation?
    • Action – What actions did you take to resolve the situation. Explain the steps that you took, providing detail so the reader fully understands what YOUR actions were, even if you were working within a team environment.
    • Result – What is the outcome? What did you achieve within this situation?


By breaking down your response using the STAR method you can clearly demonstrate your related skills for the particular criteria.


  1. Set out your Key Selection Criteria document clearly. Include your name and the position title that you are applying for, along with headings for each individual criteria and your detailed response under each heading.  This ensures the document is very clear and easy to read.  If your document has multiple pages, page numbers will also help to ensure no pages are lost throughout the process.


  1. If you have allowed plenty of time to write your application documents, leave them for a half or full day then proof read it thoroughly. Have you demonstrated your skills in the requested areas?  Is the spelling and grammar all correct?  The very last thing you want is to be addressing a Key Selection Criteria relating to attention to detail, with a spelling mistake in the paragraph.  Do you have a friend or family member who is known for their written communication skills?  Ask them to have a look over the document for you.  Or, if you need extra assistance, contact an agency who offer resume assistance services and/or career coaching. They’ll be able to assist you with identifying suitable examples, teach you how to respond correctly to KSC using the STAR method and/or help you proof read the document. Sometimes after you have worked on the document for so long it’s hard to look at it from a fresh perspective, so a fresh set of eyes can be invaluable. Plus they write and read application documents day in day out so they know what works and what doesn’t.


When responding to Key Selection Criteria, it can be helpful to build a library of your responses that you can use for future applications – communication, time management, team work, organisational skills and customer service regularly feature in the Key Selection Criteria of many roles.  Be careful not to just copy and paste your response from a previous application, take the time to ensure your response addresses the Key Selection Criteria fully.


Unfortunately, there is no escaping Key Selection Criteria. It takes time no matter what, however with a little pre-planning, not leaving it to the last minute and a fresh perspective/set of eyes you’ll be well positioned to put your best foot forward and increase your chances of being shortlisted for an interview.


Jo has over 20 years experience as a recruiter and has a passion for helping her clients recruit and engage the talent they require to meet their workforce goals and objectives. Her enthusiasm, structured approach and eye for detail have held her in high regard and ensured she has successfully delivered and supported businesses with their recruitment and human resource needs.   Jo has delivered career coaching, career transition and outplacement programs to employees across Ballarat and has successfully coached, mentored and supported them in to new employment opportunities. Taking great satisfaction from supporting people through these challenge periods of their careers, Jo has a natural ability to identify skills and expertise in people and align those skills with potential employers. Find more useful information and advice at or by following Jo on LinkedIn.



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