Here are the answers to your most common selection criteria questions.
If you have a question you can send it to us here. (While we can't respond individually to questions, we will post the answers on this webpage).
Selection Criteria Questions and Answers
Question: How long should my selection criteria answers be?
Answer: What does the selection documentation say? If it doesn't say anything, you should write roughly three-quarters of a page per selection criteria answer. Read more about how long your selection criteria should be here.
Question: How close to the word limit do I need to be?
Answer: Read our article on selection criteria answer length and word limits here.
Question: Can I use dot/bullet points when writing my statements against selection criteria?
Answer: Yes you can, but you should be careful how you use dot points (also known as bullet points). If you are simply listing things that you have done or can do, dot points might lead to your undoing.
Remember, selection panels don’t just want to know the activities you have performed for your employer, they want to know what you have delivered to your employer. They want to know the how, why and when, not just the what.
If you can do this and use dot points to make your selection criteria answers easier to read or more logical for the selection panel to follow, that's great. But as a guide, don’t sacrifice a narrative description of your knowledge, skills and abilities for dot points; lazy writers often use dot points because it is easier to list something than to write about it in more detail. While dot points can be good tools to use in an application, it is interesting to note that a study a few years ago of 103 government job applications found none of those who were chosen for an interview contained bullet or dot points in their statements against the selection criteria.
Question: My deadline is approaching, how do I get my application written fast?
Answer: Get focussed, allocate time, minimise distractions, keep a positive attitude and most importantly, follow a plan.
Read more about strategies to write selection criteria fast, here.
Follow our plan here.
Question: Do you have any tips on making my selection criteria answers stand out above the other applicants?
Answer: We sure do! We have a whole list of selection criteria tips right here.
Question: Should my statements addressing the KSC be a separate document, or included in my cover letter or resume?
Answer: They should always be in a separate document unless the selection documentation says to include it in your cover letter.
Question: If I'm asked to provide selection criteria answers in a cover letter should I still use each selection criterion as a heading and write under each heading?
Answer: You can, but unlike traditional selection criteria statements you shouldn't start each new criterion on a new page. This document needs to be in a letter format.
Question: I recently heard that selection criteria answers in a written application are marked, or scored, and the highest ones get the interview. Is this right?
This is a tricky question to answer because all government departments will differ ever so slightly in how they recruit and even selection panels within an organisation will be slightly different in how they do things. So I will give you an answer based on my experience as a government recruiter.
I have heard of a very small proportion of selection criteria being marked or scored and it is generally discouraged by HR and Recruitment departments because it is a limiting selection tool. If there are a large number of highly competitive applicants then a more robust approach to shortlisting, such as 'marking' might be used. But, as a general rule applicants are selected for an interview based on a discussion amongst the selection panel about the person who has submitted the strongest overall claims for the position, based on the published selection criteria for the position. This means using all available evidence, not just the applicant's written claims against the criteria. For example, it means considering their cover letter (if provided), resume, statements addressing the selection criteria, and written references checks if they have been requested before the interview process. Research has shown that allocating marks to an applicant's written response to selection criteria is not always the most effective way to assess who is going to be the best person for the job.
At the end of the day, selection panels are required to consider all evidence that is presented to them, so this includes an assessment of all the information provided in the application form, cover letter, resume, statements addressing the selection criteria, interviews and reference checks ... not just the statements addressing the selection criteria.
Question: How do I apply for a job that I'm acting in?
Do you have any tips for people in my situation?
Answer: Applying for a job that you are already acting in can be a very stressful process. Applicants who are acting in the job and fail
to get an interview, or fail to get the job, it usually display the same comes common failures.
They assume that because they are acting in the role, an interview is guaranteed.
They are overconfident.
They have not prepared properly.
They have not put in as much effort as the other applicants.
They are relying on relationships (with their manager or the selection panel) to get them the job, rather than merit.
Here are a few tips to help you overcome this.
Do not assume the position is yours. Overconfidence will work against you, not for you. Approach your how application as you would for any other position.
Do not assume you will get an interview. Your application will be judged alongside all other applications. Already having a presence in a position does not guarantee you an interview.
Do not assume that you will do well in the interview. Put as much focus and effort into preparing for the interview as you would for any other position. Just because the panel may know you and the role does not imply a successful interview.
During the interview, do not assume that the panel know who you are and what you do. Present your claims as if you don’t know them, and they don’t know you. This is especially the case if there is an independent member on the panel. Speak to all panel members equally, and do not bring up private jokes or other information with the panel members that you know.
Do not assume that you are the best person for the job. Just because you have been acting in the position does not mean that you are doing a good job of it, and it does not mean that there is someone out there who can’t do a better job than you.
Question: Are government interviews always panel interviews or could it be a one on one interview?
Answer: 99.9% of government interviews will be in a panel format. The average government interview has three panel members, so you can pretty much count on having three others present at your interview. There are a few exceptions though, and reasons why there may only be one interviewer. If you are applying through an agency, for example, there will most likely only be one interviewer at your initial interview. And if you are attending a second or third interview, this may be with the recruitment Delegate (the ultimate decision-maker) who is wanting to confirm or clarify some information before signing off on the report that the selection panel have submitted.
Question: How do I know if a government agency is a commonwealth, state or local agency?
question! It’s not always that obvious, is it? A
quick and easy way to find out is by looking at their website address;
do a quick web search if you don’t have the www address.
If the web address just ends in .gov.au then it is generally a commonwealth government department. For example, www.defence.gov.au or www.ato.gov.au
If the web address ends in .state.gov.au then it is generally a state government department. For example, www.xxx.vic.gov.au or www.xxx.qld.gov.au
Local government websites addresses are usually formatted councilname.state.gov.au So if you are looking at a state.gov.au address and aren’t sure if it is a state government department or local council, the homepage will always tell you if it is a council. For example, www.monash.vic.gov.au is the website for the Monash City Council in Victoria.
Can I get someone else to write my selection criteria for me?
Yes. We've written an article about things to consider when using a selection criteria writer, and how to choose a selection criteria writer.
Selection Criteria Answer Examples
More Help With Your Job Application:
Our top 5 selection criteria
Your government job application at a glance
What to expect at a government interview