Key Selection Criteria responses – A pro or con?

Ange Connor

This week a family member asked me for some assistance with writing a key selection criteria (KSC) response for a position they were wanting to apply for. The position was to go into a pool for casual administrative work and there were 12 KSC to address. Yes that’s right, 12! If you’ve ever had to write a KSC response I have no doubt that you’ll be able to relate to how I, and this family member was feeling about investing the time in responding to each of these criteria.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe having a key selection criteria to recruit to is essential and is key in making a good or bad hire. The question I’m asking myself and that we have been discussing in the office this week is: does requesting a key selection criteria response as part of the application process actually turn people off applying for a position? In most circumstances I think the answer is yes.

Based on the feedback I receive from candidates, responding to KSC is the necessary evil. If you do truly want the position or you are actively seeking a job you have no choice but if you are not necessarily an “active” job seeker and you see an opportunity that catches your interest do you let it slip by because of the time and effort required to respond to the KSC? I was recently told by a potential candidate he spoke to an organisation about a position that was of interest to him however he was not prepared to write a KSC response and told them “I’ll send you my resume, have a look at it, if you think I’ve got what you are looking for, then I’ll address the KSC.” He submitted his resume and secured an interview without even having to respond to the criteria. This was a niche position, I’d imagine the business didn’t get an overwhelming number of applications yet why do some organisations persist in requesting a KSC response if they bend the rules they set when it suits them? Is the value of a written key selection criteria response not really as valuable in the recruitment process as we think and are we just asking for KSC responses because that’s what we have always done?

I was discussing this issue with another one of my clients and they were telling me how if people don’t respond to their KSC as part of the application process they email them back and give them another opportunity to submit a response. What the? On one hand I thinking if they couldn’t follow the instructions in the first place are they right for the position and on the other hand I’m thinking by giving them a second chance, are you giving them false hopes about their application, why waste their time if their resume doesn’t even meet the criteria?

And that then leads me to question the real value of a key selection criteria response. I know many people engage a professional to help them write their key selection criteria. This is a service Inspire HQ offers and I see firsthand how many people utilise the service and there are many other providers out there offering the same service. So, if the potential candidate is engaging a professional to assist them with this process is it a true reflection of the skills? Or on the other hand are we ruling out good talent who might be able to perform the requirements of the position but just don’t have the expertise in knowing how to write an impressive KSC response that demonstrates their skills and experience.

I don’t know the answers to my questions. I don’t think there is a “one size fits all” answer. Will I request candidates to address KSC as part of the application process? Yes for particular positions I will, but I will be ensuring that the quantity and relevance of those KSC are appropriate and not a deterrent. However, for particular positions we are changing our recruitment strategy to utilise technology, save time, achieve better outcomes and engage with talent rather than alienate them. If I was the recruiting manager for the casual pool of administrative staff I spoke about at the start of

this blog, I’d be utilising video interviewing. It’s quick, it’s easy, it saves time and gives me an insight to who the candidate really is and demonstrates their skills and expertise. The applicant can record their video in a matter of minutes and I can watch in a matter of minutes, at any time of the day or night. I know that’s what I’d prefer to be using my time for rather than reading 12 KSC responses from potentially a hundred candidates.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on KSC. As a recruiter are you requesting a KSC response and is it working for you? As a job seeker how do you feel about responding to KSC and does it deter you from applying for a position?

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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