| MAY 2021 |


How do I write selection criteria? - Empowered Decision

A step by step guide


You have seen a job you like. The only problem is that it says you need to submit a two-page cover letter or statement of claims addressing the selection criteria and you have never written one before.


So, let’s establish what are selection criteria? Selection criteria are the skills, knowledge, attributes, work experience and qualifications a candidate needs to be able to meet in order to be considered for a position. It can include both hard skills and soft skills. Selection criteria are chosen by the employer to ensure the person would be able to perform in the role if successful. They are generally identified alongside the job description and each applicant is measured/ rated according to these criteria to shortlist. Some examples of selection criteria are the ability to demonstrate a high level of team leadership or the ability to deliver training to a diverse workforce.

Why is it critical to address or respond to the election criteria properly? Selection criteria are heavily weighted in recruitment and selection when used in a hiring process. Your response to the selection criteria therefore can be the most important document in your application rather than your Resume. Scores are usually given for how well each criteria are addressed then added together. The candidates with the highest scores are put through to interview.

Selection criteria can also be useful for you. It can help you decide if you really want the role, if you have the right experience and therefore if it is worth you spending the time preparing your application.

So, let’s focus on how to address the key selection criteria. You need to explain in detail how well you meet each criteria – treat each criteria as separate in order to ensure that you are showing your relevant skills, experience and possibly qualifications in relation to that criteria. A good tip is to Google search selection criteria and the exact wording of the selection criteria e.g. selection criteria and the ability to lead a team. The idea is to give you some thoughts on how to structure your response. Be careful not to copy as it needs to reflect your experience, but this can give you some good prompts/ a structure you could use. Another suggestion is to Google search the selection criteria and see what it is made up of – this way you can ensure you are addressing the various elements of say, team leadership or good interpersonal skills.

To prepare carefully read all accompanying documents – there is often an application package which is available to download if the job advert is online. There may be a job description, information about the organisation, objectives and their values, details on the selection process, information about how to address the selection criteria i.e. maximum length, instruction to provide a specific example for each criteria etc. Make sure to have all the documents both to read through so you know what to do and also so you can check at the end that you have followed all instructions and answered everything required. Pay careful attention to a deadline given that you need to submit the application by – give yourself time to write the criteria then have a couple of days to review/ adjust/ proofread without pressure. Have a copy of your Resume to refer to.

“Selection criteria are heavily weighted in recruitment and selection when used in a hiring process. Your response to the selection criteria therefore can be the most important document in your application rather than your Resume.”

Then read through each criteria – decide how critical they are to your overall ability to do the job and the importance of them relative to each other – the most important are generally listed first. Work out roughly how much space you will have for each criteria bearing in mind that you will have an introduction of your overall skills and an ending. This means you won’t spend hours writing long responses only to have to cut them down to meet the required length – the focus is on best explaining your experience and skills in line with the requirements . Think of examples for each criteria – the aim is to show examples of what you have achieved and show how this experience will help you perform well in this role.

In response to addressing the selection criteria you may well be asked to write your selection criteria in a STAR format. This means SITUATION: Describe a work situation that you were faced with. Explain the context of the skill in your specific role. Describe the specific situation or event. This is not a general overview of your skill. TASK: Describe the action plan, purpose, challenge, expectations, what needed to be done. ACTION: Describe what you did i.e. your process, how you went about it, your solution, your specific steps – focus on your individual role not others who contributed and RESULT: Describe the effect of your action / outcome / impact / how did it reflect positively on you / quantifiable result e.g. 25% saving.

Using the STAR method allows the recruiter/ employer to assess HOW you have used your skills in real life scenarios. By giving a specific example of a skill which demonstrates proof of performance/ evidence, achievements and differentiation, growth and self-awareness.

To start write an opening paragraph outlining your skills, experience, and qualifications as if you would a standard Cover letter – use your summary in your Resume to help you here. Then go into addressing each criteria. Start addressing the criteria with an opening statement stating that you have the experience/ attributes/ skills e.g. Over the last three years I have led a team in my role as Team Leader at Company. Use your STAR method to give an example writing a paragraph for each criteria . Keep working your way through the criteria keeping an eye on how much you have written and what the maximum length is . Once you have done the above write your response to each selection criteria. It will take a few attempts to get it right. Sometimes it can help to have a break so that when you come back you are reading your response as if you were the employer. End with a line thanking the reviewer such as ‘Thank you for considering my application’.

It can help to add headings or to write the selection criteria in bold – a large block of writing can be hard to read . Another method you can use is bullet points – however make sure you do the introduction or overview of your skills in a paragraph format before going to bullet points – you definitely don’t want the whole response to criteria to be in bullet form.

Finish by checking you have addressed each of the selection criteria, that the content is relevant to what is needed for someone to be able to assess if you can do this job well and do a final spell check. Ask someone else, ideally someone who works in your field/ industry to read it through. It is not easy addressing selection criteria but it is a skill you can master.