Key Selection Criteria – what on earth is it and why should I care about it?

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In the exhausting, stressful and sometimes downright depressing process that is applying for jobs, one of the most groan-inducing aspects would surely have to be responding to key selection criteria (sometimes referred to as KSC).

I’ve yet to come across someone who jumps up and down with glee at the prospect of spending hours of their precious time crafting responses to these seemingly never ending criteria and, quite frankly, I would worry about them if they did!

Whilst there has been some talk of a recent shift away from key selection criteria, a large number of positions, particularly in the education, government and healthcare sectors, do still require applicants to submit responses along with their cover letter and resume.

So how do you put together coherent, concise responses that give employers the exact information they are looking for without pulling your hair out? Relax, we’ve got you covered – prepare to embrace the STAR model! 

What is KSC?

Given not everyone will have previously come across key selection criteria let’s rewind for a second and talk about what it actually is – and why it’s important.

Key selection criteria identifies the personal qualities, skills, abilities, knowledge and/or qualifications that a person needs in order to perform a role effectively. These criteria will be listed on the position description (PD) that goes along with the role.

The number of key selection criteria a role will have can vary anywhere from 3 to 12 (yes, I have actually seen a PD with 12 key selection criteria on it). The good news is that not all roles have a PD and, for those roles that don’t, key selection criteria responses aren’t needed. Huzzah!

For those roles that do have a PD, and related key selection criteria, applicants will be assessed against these criteria during the shortlisting process. To show employers that you are the right person for this job it is not enough to simply state that you meet the criteria, you need to provide specific examples that prove your suitability for the job.

Do I really have to respond to KSC?

Employers include key selection criteria for a reason. They want as much information as possible on which to base their decision. Whilst creating an additional document responding to this criteria on top of your cover letter and resume may seem like a hassle, simply ignoring it will get you a one-way ticket to “thanks but no thanks” town.

What exactly is the STAR Model?

Similar to the CAR (Context, Action, Result) model, the STAR model provides a straightforward blueprint for how to structure your key selection criteria responses:

STAR model

You need to respond to each individual criteria with the length of your responses varying depending on the example you are using and how many components that specific criteria contains.

For example, “Experience in providing exceptional customer service” would require a 1-2 paragraph response as it contains only one component – experience in customer service.

Experience in managing office processes in a high-pressure environment and providing administrative and coordination support to senior members of an organisation” on the other hand would require a response of anywhere between 2-4 paragraphs.

This is due to the need to address experience in managing office processes (1), working in a high-pressure environment (2), providing administrative and coordination support (3) and supporting senior staff (4).

The key is to make sure you are not rambling – read the response back to make sure you have only included relevant information. Better yet, get a friend or family member to read it. They’ll soon tell you if your response has gone from winning to snooze-worthy!

Finished Product

Sometimes all the explanations and models in the world can’t beat seeing a theory in action. So just for you I’ve put together an example key selection criteria and response, highlighting the different components. Enjoy!

Example selection criterai.jpg

Written by our resident resume queen, Christina Matthews. Subscribe to our blog to receive regular resume tips & tricks from Christina. Or consider coming along to one of her fantastic workshops.