Career advice

How to address selection criteria

The selection criteria outlines the experience, skills, personal attributes, qualifications, knowledge and expertise needed to do a job effectively.
It is vital you match your qualities to the selection criteria when writing a cover letter.
Here are key steps to help you successfully address selection criteria:

Read it carefully

It is critical that you have a hawk-eye when reading the selection criteria to understand exactly what is required. For example, asking you to ‘demonstrate ability’ is very different to asking you to ‘demonstrate knowledge’. Take time to read the requirements in detail so that you can respond appropriately.

Match your skills

Ask yourself, do my skills match these criteria? It will be a waste of time applying for a job where the selection criteria don't match your skills and experience. Employers will also spot the incompetence a mile away.
However, if you do match the criteria then it’s time to start thinking of experiences from past jobs when you have demonstrated the skills or attributes required. Write down as many appropriate examples as you can, and then edit this list down to focus on your most impressive, relevant examples. These will form the basis of your responses.

Simplify the overload

Selection criteria can be quite comprehensive and therefore quite overwhelming. Try and break the criteria into sections so you can concentrate on answering small parts rather than one big essay.
For example, the criteria requires you to have ‘both written and verbal communications skills with the ability to work well under pressure.’ This enables you to address and demonstrate three different areas; written communication, verbal communication and the ability to handle pressure. It is vital that you address all three components with specific, relevant examples.


Anyone can say they have time management skills or the ability to meet tight deadlines, but employers want you to prove it by giving clear examples from your work experience and past achievements. When addressing the selection criteria use the STAR method: Situation (set the context), Task (outline your role), Action (explain what you did), and Result (key positive outcomes).

Make it clear

Employers do not have time to ‘read between the lines’ so make your responses concise, direct, relevant and easy to read. As well as reviewing for grammar, spelling, layout and word limit, ensure you have used positive language and strong action words. Pay attention to the language of the criteria, address all parts of the criteria and provide evidence for claims about your capabilities.