Throughout my recruitment career, I have managed and been a part of several successful Government-focused recruitment teams, specialising in assisting departments with both their temporary and permanent recruitment processes.
In my opinion, one of the most challenging stages of the entire process is the initial written application where you are required to address key selection criteria. I believe the reason for this is the lack of confidence to accurately highlight and address any key criteria or questions to the panel. When addressing and highlighting the key criteria, there needs to be a balance between selling yourself both professionally and personally while ensuring that you are not over-communicating the point to where your response is no longer relevant.
Given the current market conditions and the challenges that are associated when addressing key criteria, I have outlined a recommended structure for you to follow with some tips that may be helpful when completing your next government application.
Firstly, it is important that you identify the key criteria that you are required to align your experience with when highlighting your key examples. In the past, I have had several candidates address the departmental values instead of the role-specific criteria. When completing the selection criteria, try and think of it as a behavioral-based interview. The panel is looking for an example of what you did rather than what you would do. The easiest way that I would suggest structuring each of your answers is by using the STAR method.
Situation - Think of a situation (relevant to the question) in which you were involved that had a positive outcome.
Task – Describe the key responsibilities that were involved in that situation.
Action – Specify what actions you took in the situation to ensure that the key responsibilities were achieved.
Resolution – What positive results followed due to your actions?
This technique will form the structure for each key response. From here, there are a couple of additional things I would suggest keeping in mind.
Before attempting to write your response, make sure you are completely across the key responsibilities of the position description; identify how this relates to your current skillset.
Your response should be aligned to what the role is asking for which will display an obvious link to your experience. A controversial thought but my recommendation is to cover only one example under each separate criteria. The idea of this is to be specific and tailored to your example. Start with the STAR technique and then build it out. The panel wants to learn about your role, key responsibilities, and what you achieved in that role.
Within your response, make sure you are the standout character. Where possible, highlight resolutions and achievements, consider adding numbers and percentages to give context, and bring attention to your successful outcomes.
Finally, a couple of extra points.
It is important to keep to the page limit given
Use an appropriate font size
Keep the page borders in place
If you have gone over the word count, rework your responses to be more concise
Also never underestimate the importance of spelling and grammar – check your work and then have someone else check it again
Writing selection criteria is not typically everyone’s favourite thing to do. I promise with practice it will become a lot more natural to those of you who find it a little tough. My recommendation from this article would be to revise and follow the STAR technique and be specific.
If you would like any additional help with your written applications or you and your team would be interested in me facilitating a training session, please reach out on 0409 713 580 or email firstname.lastname@example.org