What is Selection Criteria and why is it important?

Government Jobs usually require you to respond to a list of Selection Criteria questions. These Selection Criteria are an essential set of questions that you must answer as part of your job application. You MUST answer these in a convincing manner to get short-listed.

Your aim when answering the Selection Criteria questions, is to convince the reader that you have the skills, knowledge and experience to undertake the requirements of the role. The person reading your application, will decide whether to short-list you based on your Selection Criteria answers. If your responses are not well written, you will not get the job.


Important: if you apply for a role that has Selection Criteria, and you simply submit your Resume/CV and do not provide answers to the questions, you will not be considered for the role. Full Stop. You MUST answer all Selection Criteria questions, and you MUST provide well rounded answers, not simple one-liners.

Selection Criteria: The importance of Essential Criteria

As a general rule, it you do not meet the Essential Selection criteria for the role, then it is not worth applying for the job. For example, if the role requires you to be degree qualified, and you have do not have a degree, then you will not succeed. 

Selection Criteria:

About Desirable Criteria

Desirable selection criteria are elements that the employer would like you to have, but are not essential to get short-listed. That is, they may include qualifications, skills and knowledge that would be useful to have, but should not rule you out if you do not have them. If you do have them, your application becomes a stronger candidate (provided that you have met the Essential Criteria).

Selection Criteria Answers

The industry standard for preparing Selection Criteria Answers is by using the STAR method. 




Action / Approach


Sample Scenario: Selection Criteria example for an Accounting or Finance Officer.

The Selection Criteria question asks you: Explain how you identified and implemented a business process improvement in the workplace. This can be broken down using the STAR approach as follows:


Role as Finance Officer at Health Department



Needed to ensure that Managers and key staff knew about new accounting codes being implemented.


Action or Approach

Prepared a memo to be distributed via email to all Managers and staff. Arranged and delivered training to staff directly affected by the change.


Accounting code changes were successfully implemented, resulting in more accurate data entry into the system with correct coding, and therefore more accurate and meaningful reporting.

Now translate this into a Selection Criteria response…

“As a Finance Officer at the Department of Health, I identified the need to introduce new accounting codes to ensure that key financial information was being correctly reported. To do this, I prepared a memo that was distributed via email to all Managers and staff. In addition I prepared, organised and delivered training sessions to all staff on how and when to use the new accounting codes.


The successful implementation of the new accounting codes resulted in increased accuracy of data entry into the corporate accounting system. This enabled me to extract highly accurate reports to analyse and to deliver to management. As a result, key project areas within the business were allocated additional funding in the annual budget, as the figures supported their business case.


This demonstrates that the key outcomes of the changes I identified and implemented, is that strong financial decision making was facilitated, which in turn assisted the business units in developing their area, with an overall benefit to the corporation as a whole.”

The STAR approach is a good guideline, however does not need to be adhered to in robot like fashion to achieve good results.

A simplified view of the STAR approach can be broken down into simple English steps that are simpler for people to follow:

The Situation

Your answer to each question should outline in which role you gained the experience or knowledge

Example & Solution

Provide an example of a situation and how you resolved or managed it


Explain how your example was of value to the team or organisation.

How long should each Selection Criteria response be?

  • As a general rule, one or two paragraphs is sufficient. Avoid writing more than half a page for each criteria. If you are writing more, then chances are you would benefit from a tighter edit.
  • Try to say more with less words. Have someone proof read your responses and suggest changes. Also consider the use of dot points, this often an excellent way of getting many points across and avoiding a huge ‘blob’ of text!
  • It is however, essential that you provide an Example of how you meet the Selection Criteria. Saying that you meet it is not enough, you need to be able to demonstrate your knowledge and skills.

Important Selection Criteria question: Verbal and Written Communication Skills

It is not enough just to say that you have excellent verbal, interpersonal and written communication skills. When we write Selection Criteria responses for you, we ensure that you provide examples to prove you have excellent communication skills. 

For example: if you have customer service experience we can highlight that you have worked in roles that deal with members of the public. With written communication skills, we work with you to highlight the types of written material that you have prepared in the workplace. This could be as simple as completing forms, ordering materials or responding to emails. It could be as complex as preparing financial reports and providing analysis of the financial data. 

Whatever your work history includes, we work with you to write a compelling response to this frequently asked Selection Criteria question. We make sure that you NAIL it!



Emerging Trends in Selection Criteria

Recently we have seen employers changing the type of questions in their Selection Criteria. The traditional criteria such as: Must have strong communication skills, including interpersonal, verbal and written => are now changing.

One key reason for this change is that employers are now starting to look beyond the employee that can tick these boxes. More emphasis is now being placed on the individual. They are looking for people that show qualities other than academic ability. Those with volunteering experience, or have been involved with the community via sporting groups or have a particularly interesting hobby such as photography are starting to stand out. They are showing that they are genuinely team oriented people, have plenty of energy, and are engaged in life.

So what do these ‘new’ questions look like?

How do you go about answering them?

We are starting to see behavioural and personality based questions such as:

  • Provide a specific example of a time when you had conflicting priorities. How did you juggle these priorities simultaneously and what was the result?


  • What capabilities and personal attributes will you bring to the department?

This means that the above traditional STAR approach is starting to lose relevance. More than ever, you need to rely on excellent written communication skills to answer Selection Criteria. Perhaps this is the purpose of these new style of questions, to make sure that stock standard answers are not sourced from somewhere on the internet, and to force applicants to genuinely respond!

Send An Enquiry

Your Selection Criteria answers need to be unique, well written and provide meaningful examples to ensure that you get short-listed. Do you require assistance writing Selection Criteria? We can help.

Send an Enquiry to find out more.

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