Pitching Your Selection Criteria at the Right Level


You could write the best APS Level 4 application that the world has ever seen, but if the job is for an APS Level 6 position, it isn’t going to get you anywhere.

Pitching your selection criteria at the right level is as important as any other element of your selection criteria and it is also the thing that leads to the undoing of a lot of applicants.

When selection panels are choosing who they are going to interview they write notes about why they are not interviewing certain applicants.  These notes are usually repetative and include statements like “evidence not at the level required” or “claims too low.”

What does it mean to have your selection criteria pitched at the right level?

The type of communication skills required for a Customer Service Officer versus a Chief Finance Officer for example will be very different. Firstly, a different level of complexity exists because these roles will be operating at significantly different levels in the hierarchy, and secondly, these roles will be communicating with different people, about different things, in different contexts and by different means.

If, for example, you are writing statements against a communication selection criteria for an entry level position, you would demonstrate in your application that you can:

  • Communicate cross-culturally
  • Ensure conclusions are clear
  • Limit the use jargon and acronyms
  • Focus communication on the objective
  • Be open and approachable and able to build rapport
  • State facts clearly and backs them up with evidence
  • Summarise arguments and use active listening
  • Use analogies when trying to explain a concept
  • Use appropriate body language
  • Use tone and style appropriate to the audience and purpose 

If you are writing statements against a communication selection criteria for a middle management position, you would demonstrate in your application that you have higher level skills that those just discussed, such as the ability to:

  • Assess verbal and non-verbal cues
  • Display professional presentation skills
  • Clearly structures arguments and presentations
  • Acknowledge differences of opinion
  • Show a strong understanding of the key issues being discussed
  • Negotiate at higher levels
  • Present as confident and professional
  • Read the audience

If, however, you are writing statements against a communication selection criteria for an executive position, you would demonstrate in your application that you can:

  • Communicate with influence
  • Communicate strategically
  • Engage an audience
  • Practice conflict management
  • Sell ideas
  • Use persuasion skills
  • Manage expectations
  • Instil confidence in the audience

By pitching at the right level you will be addressing the needs of the job and connecting with the selection panel.

How do you know if your evidence is pitched at the right level?

There are three things you can do to find out:

1. Assess the job description and position duties and make a match between what is required in the role and what you are discussing in your application.

If you need more clarification about what specific skills are required in the role and the job description or duty statement aren’t giving you enough clues, call the contact officer and ask them.

A good question would look something like this: “One of the criteria is good communication skills. Can you tell me exactly why good communication skills are required in this role, and any specific communication skills that would be an asset?”

2.  Find out if there are any work level standards for the level of the position you are applying for.

Most agencies have work level standards of their own, and the Australian Public Service (APS) has also published work level standards for each APS level.

3.  Find out if there is a capability framework or any key performance indicators for the position. 

The APS’s Integrated Leadership System (www.apsc.gov.au/ils) is a good place to start for APS levels.  If the position you’re applying for is non-APS, the contact officer for the vacancy will be your best resource.




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