Selection Criteria: The Written Application

Addressing Selection Criteria

What are selection criteria and why are they used?

Selection criteria describe the qualifications, knowledge, skills, abilities and experience a person requires in order to do a job effectively. They are divided into:

  • essential criteria
  • desirable criteria.

You must meet the essential criteria to be considered for a position because without having the relevant qualifications, knowledge, skills or experience you would not be able to do the job. If you do not meet the essential criteria, you will not be shortlisted for interview.

It is not necessary for you to have the qualifications, knowledge, skills and experience described by the desirable criteria, but your chances of being shortlisted are better if you do. Where there are several applicants who meet the essential criteria, the selection panel will shortlist on the basis of the desirable criteria.

Examples of selection criteria

Apart from qualifications and experience that may be specific to a particular job, there are several selection criteria that are common to many University positions. These include:

  • ability to maintain confidentiality
  • ability to work as part of a team
  • ability to work independently
  • ability to work under pressure
  • attention to detail
  • flexible and adaptable approach to work
  • initiative
  • keyboard skills
  • knowledge of University organisation, policy and procedures
  • organisational/planning skills
  • problem-solving ability
  • sensitivity
  • supervisory skills
  • verbal communication/interpersonal skills
  • written communication skills.

Why selection criteria must be addressed

For any general staff vacancy at the University, the selection panel is required to assess each applicant in terms of how well they meet the selection criteria.

However, it is not up to the selection panel, who may have 100 applications to assess, to wade through your résumé and covering letter trying to find the relevant information about you that relates to each criterion.

The onus is on you to summarise the relevant information about yourself and to present it in a form which is easily accessible to the panel.

This will assist the panel to rate your application against the selection criteria and against other applicants, and to decide who to shortlist for interview. Many good applicants are overlooked because they don’t clearly address the selection criteria and assume that the panel will be able to Ôead between the lines in their résumé.

How to address selection criteria

Format and Layout

There are a number of things you can do to make your selection criteria statement effective and easy for the selection panel to read.

  • Make it a separate attachment from your résumé and covering letter. This is a University requirement.
  • Give the document a heading and include the following details:
  • Address each criterion separately:
    • give each a title, using exactly the same wording as appears on the selection criteria form, e.g. ‘Excellent verbal communication skills’
    • list each criterion in the same order as the selection criteria form
    • indicate whether the criterion is essential or desirable
    • under each heading write one or two short paragraphs explaining how you meet that particular criterion (how to do this is explained below).


Your statement addressing the selection criteria needs to demonstrate how your previous experience, skills, education and training have equipped you to meet the requirements of the position.

Below are some suggestions for what to include in the statement you write for each criterion.

  • Highlight your relevant skills and experience by describing your major responsiblities in current or previous employment (this may include relevant non-paid work). Where possible, mention the same kinds of tasks and responsibilities as are listed in the advertised duty statement. For example:
Selection Criterion: Prepare agendas, minutes and reports for the …. Committee.

  • ‘I have been secretary to a number of senior level University committees. My responsibilities have included organising meetings, researching background information, taking minutes, and preparing and distributing agendas, reports and minutes.’
Selection Criterion: Filing, photocopying and general office duties.

  • ‘In all my previous positions I have performed general office duties such as handling telephone inquiries, greeting visitors, arranging meetings, filing, photocopying, sorting and distributing mail.’
  • Indicate the extent of your experience in relation to a particular criterion, e.g. number of years’ experience, number of staff supervised, etc. For example:
    • ‘I have over four years’ experience using Microsoft Word 5.1 on a daily basis. I am able to use advanced features of the program, such as ….’
    • ‘I am responsible for supervising the day-to-day work of five staff ….’
This is very useful if you want to emphasize that you have lots of experience. If your experience is limited, you may prefer to be vague about how much you have!
  • Briefly give details of one or two specific things you’ve done that are good examples of your ability to meet the criterion. For example:
    • ‘I was responsible for organising a large seminar attended by 100 staff. This involved ….’
    • ‘My ability to work well in a team was demonstrated when ….’
  • Where possible, indicate how successfully you meet the criterion. You could do this by referring to feedback you’ve received from others, or things you’ve set up that are still being used. For example:
    • ‘A report I wrote about …. was well received by the …. Committee, and circulated as a discussion paper.’
    • ‘The accounting spreadsheet system I introduced two years ago is working effectively and staff say that they find it easy to use.’
  • Mention any relevant qualifications and training you have, particularly if your experience is limited. These might include:
    • details of any relevant training courses you’ve attended, such as ‘Effective Communication at Work’, or ‘Introduction to Microsoft Excel’
    • subjects studied as part of award courses, such as bookkeeping, office practice, etc.

Providing Additional Information

At the end of your selection criteria statement you may like to add any extra information that you believe is relevant to the job. Alternatively you could refer to it in your covering letter. Examples of things you could mention include:

  • skills and abilities which you think are important and which haven’t been mentioned in the selection criteria, e.g. ‘flexibility’, ‘ability to maintain confidentiality’
  • knowledge or experience you have which you believe is important to the job, e.g. knowledge of particular University systems, policies or procedures.

Make sure that any information you include is directly relevant to the position.

Selection criteria Example

An example of a selection criteria statement follows.


Administrative Assistant, School of Business (Ref: 18/96)


Year 12 or equivalent competency (Essential)
I successfully completed Year 12 in 1980. I am currently studying part-time towards a Diploma in Business Administration at TAFE.
Current A Class driving licence (Desirable)
I have held an A Class driving licence with no demerit points for the last ten years.
Excellent verbal communication skills (Essential)
In all the positions I have held I have been the first point of contact for internal and external clients, both on the telephone and face-to-face. At present I have contact with staff at all levels in the University including executive deans, heads of department, academic and general staff. I also have regular contact with students and the public. I answer general enquiries, provide information about the department’s policies and procedures, and welcome visitors to the department. In 1995 I attended an interpersonal skills workshop which has assisted me in dealing with sensitive issues. I have been complimented on my helpful manner and tactful approach to difficult situations.
Good organisational ability (Essential)
Good organisational ability is essential in my present position, as I frequently have to arrange meetings, departmental seminars and presentations, as well as travel and accommodation for overseas visitors. I am able to handle a wide range of tasks and meet daily and weekly deadlines, including payment of invoices and timesheets. In 1994 I was responsible for all the administrative aspects of organising a conference attended by 100 delegates. This involved arranging advertising, handling registrations, booking venues, accommodation, catering and entertainment, and ensuring that the conference ran smoothly. The event was successful and several delegates commented on how well it had been organised.
Good written communication skills (Essential)
In my current job I regularly write letters and memos on behalf of my supervisor. I have also produced two short reports on the use of computers within the department. Last year I developed a leaflet containing information about the department to help in the induction of new staff. Staff have said that they found the leaflet clear, concise and easy to read. I also assisted in writing a procedures manual for the department. The one-day workshop I attended recently called ‘How to write clear, concise letters and reports’ has further enhanced my skills.
Ability to use initiative (Essential)
As my supervisor is away from the office several times a week, I have to work independently and use my initiative to handle situations in her absence. Examples of things I have initiated in the past include a new system for handling course enrolments, which has resulted in less paperwork and quicker processing of applications; and a spreadsheet system for monitoring expenditure of departmental accounts. Both systems have been operating successfully for the last two years.
Ability to work as part of a team (Essential)
I have worked in teams as large as 15 and others as small as three. I have always worked well with other team members and enjoyed a good rapport with them, both at work and sometimes socially. In my present job good team work is vital to ensure that events are organised effectively, that reports are distributed on time and that the office runs smoothly. I often volunteer to assist other team members in meeting their deadlines.
Relevant office experience (Essential)
I have worked at the University for the past six years, and previously in clerical and administrative positions in the private sector. The experience I gained working in the Department of Business at Warwick University in the UK is particularly relevant to this position. I have effectively performed the full range of office duties, including handling enquiries, word processing, arranging meetings, organising diaries, filing, photocopying, sorting mail, etc.
Accounts experience (Essential)
I am currently responsible for the payment of all accounts in my department and have been for the past three years. This includes raising purchase orders and R Forms, payment of invoices, checking of monthly account printouts, and monitoring expenditure against the budget. I am familiar with the University’s Financial Records System, which I access electronically on a weekly basis to monitor account transactions.
Apple Macintosh experience (Desirable)
For the past four years I have used an Apple Macintosh computer on a daily basis as part of my work. I am able to use a number of software packages, including Microsoft Word 5.1 and 6.0, Microsoft Excel 4.0, and Claris works. I am able to use all of the advanced features of Microsoft Word, including mail merge, tables, graphics, etc., and I have set up several spreadsheets using Microsoft Excel. I have also used an IBM personal computer, both at home and at work for two years.
I am familiar with various University computer systems, including the Human Resources Enquiry System and Student Records System, which I use on a regular basis. I use electronic mail every day and I am currently learning how to access information on the World-Wide Web.

Addressing Selection Criteria

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One comment on “Selection Criteria: The Written Application
  1. Jon Stenson says:

    I also think that using the STAR methods can be a great way to easily improve your selection criteria

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