So, you’ve found an amazing summer internship you’d like to apply for. Your resume is looking good – it’s expertly tailored to the job ad and role requirements. Now it’s time to cast your eye over the specified selection criteria. Cue big groan!
While I doubt anyone relishes addressing selection criteria, it’s one of those tasks that’s worth doing well as it could mean the difference between progressing to the interview stage or not.
So, what exactly are selection criteria? These are the specified skills, experiences, qualifications and competencies employers are looking for in candidates. Including selection criteria in the application process helps employers to compare applicants in order to shortlist those best suited to the role. Not surprising, the candidates who are most convincing on paper and satisfy the greatest number of criteria, are the ones who progress to an interview.
Selection criteria usually fall into two categories:
- Essential – applicants must meet these criteria to be eligible for the role
- Preferred or desirable – applicants should ideally meet these criteria, but it’s not necessarily a dealbreaker if you don’t
When addressing selection criteria, consider the following:
- Read each selection criteria carefully – one criteria may ask for ‘experience in’, while another may specify ‘knowledge of.’ Be sure you understand and address these subtle differences.
- Address each selection criteria individually – use each of the key criteria as a separate heading, under which you provide a summary of your relevant skills, experience, qualifications, and personal attributes.
Sometimes selection criteria may include more than one quality/skill. For example, you might be asked to describe your ability to effectively communicate, both verbally and in writing. In this instance, you’ll need to address your written communication skills as well as your verbal communication skills.
- Support your claims with evidence – avoid broad, unsubstantiated statements such as ‘I have extremely well-developed communication skills’. This is your opinion, the employer needs evidence. You’ll need to provide concrete examples that demonstrate your skills and abilities.
Remember the STAR approach:
It may be easier to demonstrate your skills and abilities if you use the STAR approach:
- (S)ituation: Describe the relevant circumstance
- (T)ask: Detail what you were required to do/the goal you were working towards
- (A)ction: Describe the actions you took to address the situation
- (R)esult: Detail the outcomes of your actions, and don’t be shy about taking credit for a job well done!
How long should each response be?
This depends on the application. Some will have word or page limits, so it’s important to thoroughly read all the instructions before you get stuck in. If there is no word limit, it’s a good idea to keep each of your answers to about half a page. Try to be concise and to the point.
How do you answer a selection criterion with no experience?
If you’re applying for a role but don’t have relevant industry experience, think of other experiences, achievements, or roles you’ve had that can highlight the specified qualities. For example, if you’re asked to evidence your ability to work as part of a team, think of instances during your studies, in your casual job, or within a sporting context, when you had to work with others for a common goal.
Where can I find more help with writing selection criteria?