Please note: CV Saviour requires a minimum of 2 weeks (14 days) notice prior to the application deadline to write selection criteria responses. No rush jobs.

Selection criteria (now presented as ‘How You Will Be Assessed’ for public sector roles) and Competency Frameworks are statements that describe the qualifications, knowledge, skills, abilities and experience that are required in a job.

Selection criteria are almost always required for public sector roles, so if you are applying for a role in the public service, you need to send more than just your resume and your cover letter. You also need to send ANOTHER document as well (unless instructed otherwise) that responds to the selection criteria, and there is a knack to getting them right.

Before you apply for any public sector role, if you haven’t already spoken to the contact officer named in the job ad, we strongly advise you do. They can be very helpful in determining if you are a fit and qualified, for the role on offer. Added to this is the fact that these jobs HAVE to be advertised, even when they have someone acting in the role who may also be applying for the job. (Why spend hours preparing an application if you’re not even a contender? What if the advertiser has already shortlisted applicants and are interviewing? What is there is an internal applicant already acting in the role, and they’ve been ring-fenced for the job? Calling a recruiter or the contact officer beforehand can provide you with some vital clues as to the recruitment process, and can help shape your application).

Employment decisions for Public Sector generally undertaken according to the merit principle.

Merit selection involves comparing an applicant’s work-related qualities with the work-related qualities genuinely required to perform the duties of the position. By ensuring employment decisions are based on merit, all applicants are given a fair and equal chance to gain employment. The primary source for identifying the work-related qualities required for a position will usually be found in the Selection Criteria contained in the Statement of Duties (also known as a Position Description) for the role on offer. Work-related qualities can include:


skills and abilities


qualifications, training and competencies


standard of work performance


capacity to produce required outcomes


relevant personal qualities


demonstrated potential for further development


ability to contribute to team performance


When you respond to selection criteria, you are being asked to describe how you meet the requirements of the job, and you MUST provide examples.

When presenting examples for selection criteria responses, the key is to frame them using CAR or SOAR statements. Selection criteria responses are all about ‘show me, don’t tell’. What we mean by this is that if the selection criteria mandates ‘communications skills’ as a desirable, describe in detail a situation in which you used your communication skills, how you used them, to what effect, what the outcome was and what the overall impact of that was.

Saying you have ‘great communication skills’ is just not going to cut it. But describing how you planned and delivered the messaging and internal and external communications plan for a company-wide relocation over a period that garnered positive media attention and engaged staff without impacting staff attrition rates, will get you noticed.

Understanding Australian Public Service Levels and Job Classifications

The Australian Public Service (APS) Work Level Standards for the APS Level and Executive Level (EL) classifications have been developed to provide a consistent platform for classifying jobs. They accommodate the diversity of roles across the APS and are structured to clearly differentiate between the work expected (i.e. responsibilities and duties) at each classification level.

The work level standards are not intended to be an exhaustive list of responsibilities and duties for each classification level. The classification should be determined according to the highest function performed on a regular basis. Roles are not expected to involve all of the examples listed. Descriptions of the responsibilities and duties have been developed to take account of the wide-ranging nature of work across the APS. They should be regarded as general in nature and will require a level of interpretation depending upon the broad job context and conditions within which the responsibilities and duties are to be performed.

To learn more about the specifics of each classification, please follow the links below or click here.

Addressing Selection Criteria

Your claims against the selection criteria are the most important part of your application. The selection criteria are a set of measurable standards against which employers can assess whether you have the right mix of skills, knowledge, qualifications and experience required for the position.

Make a separate heading for each criterion and provide examples that demonstrate your ability to meet that criterion.

If your application does not address each criterion, you may significantly reduce your chance of being short listed for interview.

Key words / phrases you may find in selection criteria:

You need to give examples that prove you have this area of knowledge. Where did you get your knowledge? How is your understanding relevant to the position? How would you apply your understanding in the position? How do you continuously improve and build upon your knowledge? Provide examples.

You do not need to have done this kind of work before, but you need to describe how your skills, knowledge and experience show that you are capable of doing the work.

You need to provide examples of where you have done this work before. Where did you gain your experience? How much experience do you have? What is the quality of your experience? How has this experience benefited your current employer? Provide examples.

You need to show your level of skill. Provide relevant detail, using examples of your achievements to illustrate your level of skills, knowledge and experience. How do the skills that you have relate to those required in the position? What skills do you have that are transferable to the position? How have you gone about improving your skills in the past? Have you reached a specific proficiency level? Provide examples.

Selection Criteria Response Formats


CAR stands for Challenge, Action, Results and this simple format helps you frame your achievements in a way that makes it really clear to recruiters what you’ve done. To give this a try, pick one of your successes and write down the following:


What was the problem you had to resolve or the challenge that you faced?


What action did you take to overcome the challenge and why?


What was the outcome of the action you took?


Not all situations fit the standard CAR format, and a good alternative is to use a SOAR statement. SOAR stands for:


What position did you find yourself in when you started the job?


What opportunities did you identify?


What actions did you take to reach your goals?


The results of your actions.


You could also try a STAR statement.


Explain the background. Had something gone wrong? Had an opportunity arisen? Were you at a critical point in your career? What was happening and what issue needed resolving?


What were you trying to achieve? What were you and your team required to do? Keep the focus on the tasks you did personally, in the context of any team work.


What steps did you take to achieve your goal? What action was actually taken? Were there any unexpected challenges?


What were the results? (Be specific about money earned / saved, measurable increases in customer satisfaction, product performance, etc …) What happened as a result of your actions? Was the situation resolved or improved? Were the outcomes met? Would you do anything differently next time?


Some organisations may ask for SAO statements:


Where and when did you do it?


What did you do and how did you do it?


What was the result of your actions?

Essential and Desirable Requirements

Essential requirements are additional elements which the successful applicant must hold in order to successfully undertake the duties and responsibilities of the position. Some examples of the most common essential requirements are:

academic or professional qualifications

driver’s licence

professional registration/licensing


pre-employment checks (such as conviction)

Where an essential requirement is approved for a role, the occupant must have and maintain the requirement to be, or continue to be, employed in the role. Evidence of your ability to satisfy any applicable essential requirements should be submitted with your application (other than conviction checks, identity checks and eligibility to work checks as these will undertaken by the advertiser). Alternatively, you may be asked to provide copies of any required documentation during selection methods. Essential requirements must always be verified and/or finalised prior to the finalisation of a selection process.

Desirable Requirements are not an essential part of a position’s requirements but may be beneficial to the position. A person does not have to hold the desirable requirement in order to be the successful applicant.

Tips for addressing selection criteria

Even if you do not think you meet the criteria, discuss your transferable skills

When you are applying for a job that requires an unfamiliar skillset, consider how you would apply skills that you have learned in your previous experiences, even if they do not immediately seem relevant. For example, if you have been caring for children, you may have obtained skills in time management, budgeting, negotiation, etc. Discuss how you would apply these skills to the job while fairly identifying any areas in which you will need support should you be awarded the position.

Stand out from the crowd

Emphasise how you are competitive against other applicants, discussing desirable qualities like punctuality, initiative and the ability to work without supervision, ensuring that these are qualities that your referees will support. If you would like to discuss your non-work passions, hobbies or interests, make sure you describe how these are relevant to the role (for example, involvement in a community group may require you to organise meetings, take minutes, manage registrations to events etc.).

Tailor your responses

Selection panels prefer professional, succinct and targeted responses that demonstrate the applicant understands the job requirements. For example, an applicant for a receptionist position might emphasise time management and customer service skills; whereas an applicant for a procurement officer position might emphasise an understanding of public sector financial management requirements and budgeting software. Listing irrelevant skills and experiences will only make your application longer, not stronger.

However you choose to frame it, it’s essential that when you’re writing about achievements you make them specific and wherever possible, quantifiable. Avoid vague statements and try to put your results in context by explaining what the outcome meant for the organisation as a whole. Think measurable results!

Make sure you follow the agency’s directions, relating to page limits, word counts, layout and presentation. Not all agencies list these requirements, but if they do, make sure you follow their directions EXACTLY.

If you would like a quote for CV Saviour to write your selection criteria responses, we strongly advise that you confirm details with the Contact Officer (who will be named in the job advertisement). They can be very helpful in determining if you are a fit and qualified, for the role on offer. See below for questions to ask.

Because applicants for public sector roles will be assessed on merit, it is absolutely critical that you determine if you qualify for the role before applying.

Please keep in mind that responses to selection criteria are AS IMPORTANT, if not more important than your CV, when they are required as part of your public sector job application.


This means you must have been quoted, booked in, paid and completed our questionnaire relating to responses leaving us 14 days to write your responses. Early bookings are always advised. No rush jobs on selection criteria. Please do not ask us to quote on selection without providing the following information listed in points 1 to 6 below:

If you would like a quote for CV Saviour to write your selection criteria responses, it is imperative that you confirm details with the Contact Officer (who will be named in the job advertisement). They can be very helpful in determining if you are a fit and qualified for the role on offer. (Why spend hours preparing an application if you’re not even a contender? What if the advertiser has already shortlisted applicants and has started interviewing? What is there is an internal applicant already acting in the role, and they’ve been ring-fenced for the job? Calling a recruiter or the contact officer beforehand can provide you with some vital clues as to the recruitment process, and can help shape your application).

Because applicants for public sector roles will be assessed on merit, it is absolutely critical that you determine if you qualify for the role before applying.

In order to quote accurately, please provide us with the following information:

We will need to know


How many selection criteria need to be responded to?


Is there a maximum number of pages for responses?


Is there a set word count for each response if responses are submitted on paper?

What layout do they prefer? (For example, one page per response?)

Is there a set character count for selection criteria that get uploaded into an online application, and if so, what is the limitDoes the limit include spaces or not? Please note that if an application has an online application process for selection criteria, you may be restricted by character count (instead of word count). If this is the case, please let us know what the character count is (including spaces) for each response.

Do they have any preference for the presentation? (Cover sheet, margins of a specific size, font type etc.) Once we have that detail, we will be able to quote you for selection criteria.

When you speak to the contact officer, it is worth noting that they may also be a member of the selection panel, so it may be worth exploring if someone is already in the role, or ‘acting’ in the role, and asking how long they have been doing so, and/or ask why the position is vacant. You can also ask other questions … For example – if a key selection criterion is “must possess strong communication skills” you can ask questions like: Do you mean verbal or written skills? If verbal, can they give you an example of what verbal communication in that role looks like on a day-to-day basis? You can then ensure that you are providing relevant examples.


Ask if they know what the most important skills and attributes are for the role; what are the major challenges faced by management at the moment, or the major challenges in the role; what would they like the next person in the role to do differently; what are the biggest challenges faced by the person in this role etc … answers to all of these questions will provide you with clues as to how to respond to the selection criteria.

Contacting the organisation also has the added bonus of helping them to remember your name when sorting through stacks of applications!

We will need to know this information to quote accurately for selection criteria responses, (discounts are available in certain circumstances).

Your Investment

Selection Criteria Responses for Public Sector Roles

Priced per response. Up to 300 words = half an A4 page (eg: if you require 6 criteria to be responded to and want a half A4 page response per criteria, select 6 items at checkout. If you want 6 x 600 words = 6 x full A4 page of responses, select 12 items at checkout)


Written to address requirements of position advertised


SEO/Keyword Optimised


ATS Tested & Scored


(valued at $149)

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