How to reply to selection criteria

How to reply to selection criteria

The way you respond to key selection criteria is critical to getting an interview.

Job selection criteria, also known as key selection criteria or KSC, is the first document a selection panel reads to assess your suitability for a job.

If you don’t respond to the selection criteria in your application, you won’t get interviewed — no matter how qualified or experienced you are. So be sure to respond if the job posting asks you to.

Address each selection criteria with a short statement

Create a separate document listing all of the selection criteria (copy and pasted from the position description). Then write a short statement around 60 to 120 words for each.

Show clearly how your personal values, knowledge, skills and experience meet the selection criteria. Include examples from other jobs, experience gained outside or work, or from your formal studies. Be precise and make it relevant.

Try to tease out the keywords in the selection criteria, brainstorm your qualities and history, then apply the Situation Action Outcome (SAO) approach. Here's how.

Brainstorm to tease out the keywords in key selection criteria

  • Highlight key words in the key selection criteria and think about what the employer is looking for.
  • List examples in dot points that show how you meet the selection criteria — describe relevant skills, experience, incidents, training, personal qualities and expertise.
  • Review your list and structure your response using the SAO approach, shown below.

Use the SAO approach to write your responses

Now use the SAO approach to create concise answers of 60 to 120 words. Think about the:

  • Situation — where and when you did something
  • Action — what you did and how you did it
  • Outcome — what was the result of your actions 

Check that each statement is 60 to 120 words long. Be factual and positive, without exaggerating or even down-playing your capabilities and experience.

Key selection criteria examples

Here's some examples of how selection criteria responses might look like. 

KSC1: Problem solving - Seeks all relevant facts. Liaises with stakeholders. Analyses issues from different perspectives and draws sound inferences from available data. Identifies and proposes workable solutions.

Problem solving has been a critical part of my roles over the past five years. While working as Customer Complaints Officer at Acme Department Stores, I dealt with a variety of problems. While many could be resolved easily, two to three per week were more complex and required a detailed process to resolve. I had to investigate what had happened from the staff and customer's points of view, clarify the facts, and work out what had gone wrong and why. I then had to propose suitable solutions and negotiate a mutually satisfactory outcome. I was often commended by my manager for my sensitive handling and speedy resolution of these problems. Less than one per cent of complaints had to be escalated.

KSC2: Advanced computer skills - Uses a wide range of software features for word processing, spreadsheets, etc. Helps others solve problems with software.

As Personal Assistant to the Marketing Manager at SYZ Enterprises, about half my time was spent preparing letters and reports for clients using Word. I also used detailed information in Excel spreadsheets to prepare graphs and tables, to demonstrate the results of our market research and to analyse client company performance. I often prepared major PowerPoint presentations for my manager and maintained a database of her contacts. I also managed many daily emails and searched for information on the Internet to answer questions.

KSC3: Sound communication, interpersonal and negotiating skills, including well-developed written and oral skills, and the ability to develop and deliver interpretation and education services.

In my five years as a teacher, strong communication, negotiation and interpersonal skills have been essential. I have dealt with a wide range of people, including parents, colleagues and students. I was involved in a community project where I co-wrote a booklet on helping children learn and have fun. As part of this project, I led successful negotiations with the local council and three schools in the area who agreed to run a series of weekend family science programs for kids in the area.

PRO tip: Having good KSC response statements will also help you prepare for the interview  — you’ll already have good answers to refer to.