How to Answer Selection Criteria For Government Jobs

You have requested an application to work in the public sector and now find that you will need to answer the selection criteria for the government job. These criteria exist as an attempt to ensure that employment occurs solely on merit and that everyone has an equal opportunity to be hired. They are meant to help the selection panel determine your suitability for the job by evaluating your skills, knowledge, ability and qualifications.

It is important to carefully respond to the selection criteria even though the process of writing a response can be very time consuming.


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    Request an information pack when you see a position that you are interested in pursuing. It may be referred to as a job description, information kit or selection criteria and contact information used to obtain the pack can usually be found at the bottom of the job listing.
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    Review the criteria to see if you meet the qualifications. If it is likely that you will struggle to answer several of the criteria, you may want to consider if you want to go through the effort to complete the responses to all of the criteria. You may also want to get a hold of the contact person and ask if someone is currently holding the position. If so, then that person may have the inside track for the job. In either case, you can always apply but the odds of success are less likely.
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    Understand the code or key words of the selection criteria.
    • The words "demonstrated" or "proven ability" refers to skills or tasks you have previously used or performed. You will need to refer to your actual experience and give a specific example in addressing this criterion. It is best to describe the situation that arose, how you responded to it, and how your actions affected the outcome.
    • When responding to language concerned with your "abilities" then you will need to speak to your potential based on your previous ability to accomplish similar skills or tasks through training or experience.
    • Terms like "sound," or "high level," will require that you show that you have that advanced level of skill or knowledge.
    • Where the words "an understanding of" is found, you will not only need to show the depth of your knowledge on the subject but also detail its importance.
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    Evaluate the length of each response. This will vary based on the position sought and your background. Your responses will need to convince the panel that you have the knowledge and experience necessary for the position.
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    It has been recommended that the response for each criterion be between 1/2 - 1 pages long.
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    Have someone review your response. While you may be a good editor, there may be errors which you would otherwise miss.


  • If you are not selected for the position you can always ask for feedback. IF you were selected for the short list for interviews there is a possibility that your part of the hiring process was documented.
  • Remember to address each section of the criterion if it contains multiple parts. It is a good idea to separate each section into different headings in your response to that criterion.
  • Always answer all of the criteria. The selection panel will assess points for each criterion. By not answering one of the criteria you will receive no points on that criterion which could result in not getting an interview. If
  • you don't have the actual experience requested, then refer to similar experience in related positions.

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Categories: Work World