Selection Criteria & KSAs – Back to Basics

In July 2006 we did a survey of Australian government selection exercises. The results from our government recruitment survey alarming figures, and highlighted that a large number of applicants for government positions do not know what is required when applying for a government job.

The key points in the survey found that:

  • Only 10% of applicants are chosen for an interview.
  • 31% of applicants were not chosen for an interview because they did not submit a correct application.

So, let's get back to basics. What is required when you submit an application for an Australian government job?

  1. An application form (unless the department you're applying to does not have an application form).
  2. A cover letter.
  3. A resume.
  4. Statements addressing the selection criteria
  5. Any else required by the department or agency that is specified in the selection documentation (eg copies of certifications / qualification, referees etc).

The area that most people appeared to struggle with, was submitting appropriate responses to the selection criteria (or KSAs).

Selection criteria represent the skills and abilities, knowledge, experience, qualifications and work related qualities a person needs to perform a role effectively. They set out the standards by which each candidate will be assessed and are used to identify the best person for the job. Selection criteria are therefore used for assessing written applications, and also the interview.

When writing statements against selection criteria in your written application your goal is to demonstrate your capabilities against the selection criteria by providing evidence that you meet the selection criteria. This evidence will need to include specific details that can be confirmed by referees if necessary. As a general guide, statements should be between one half and a full page per criterion (criterion is singular, criteria is plural).

The key to successful statements against selection criteria is providing solid evidence. Statements should:

  • be direct,
  • incorporate examples, and
  • not include broad sweeping statements.

Five simple tips when writing against selection criteria:

  1. Start each criterion on a new page, with the criterion as a heading. Your statements should ideally be between half and three quarters of a page per criterion. These statements should be a separate document and not included as part of your cover letter.
  2. Make sure you provide evidence that you meet the criterion, and not just theoretical statements about the criterion. Your response should discuss results and achievements.
  3. Before you start writing your statements spend some time brainstorming ideas of how you meet each criterion and the examples you could use for each criterion.
  4. Provide evidence of qualifications or certificates for any technical competencies that are required (including computer skills).
  5. Your response should be appropriate to the level of the position you are applying for.

Do the sums; if 10% of applicants got an interview, and 31% were eliminated because of not addressing criteria correctly, this means that the remaining 59% did address the selection criteria, but they did do a good enough job of it to get an interview .

Given the time it takes to prepare an application, it's worth putting in the time and effort as an investment to secure your place as one of the 10%.

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