Jun 2011
Megan's picture

Answering a Key Selection Criteria; Turning your experiences into meaningful responses

Author: Megan

A friend of mine is looking for full time work; she has an undergraduate degree and is currently studying towards a postgraduate qualification. A successful student with volunteer and workplace experiences along with great organizational skills you would think that finding work in a relevant field would be simple.

The biggest hurdle she has faced is a lack of relevant work experience, as a student like many of us she has worked on a part time basis in retail for the past few years. In these roles she has demonstrated strong leadership and organizational skills and often has been commended by her management however she has been finding it difficult to then translate these experiences when applying for work.

Yesterday we worked on answering a Key Selection Criteria, even though my friend has brilliant written and communication skills she still struggled to answer the questions effectively, believing that her experiences at work were not relevant to those asked for in the job advertisement.

Here are some ideas and examples that we worked through, to try and help my friend express her own experiences and connect them honestly in a meaningful way to the requirements for the Key Selection Criteria.

Organizational Skills;

-Often you will find that business with a large part-time or casual staff pool can sometimes be hectic, a lack of repeated everyday experiences and an ever changing employee population means that within a team you may have a range of experienced, new and transitional staff. Situations where you may have shown organizational skills can be helping with rostering or creating a training plan for new staff or if management were absent you may have had to create order in a chaotic situation,  you may have re-structured your office filing system or organized a large event like a under 12s Softball grand final. Organizational skills are transferable, recruiters will be looking for applicants who can recognize and appropriately react to a range of situations. Reflect on your own experiences and remember to use to the STAR method, Situation, Task, Action, Result.

Leadership Skills;

-Not everyone has had the experience of being a team leader or manager and employers are aware of this. You may have demonstrated leadership skills while coaching a sports team, mentoring a new employee, organizing some kind of event or taking responsibility in an unusual situation. Think of memorable experiences; these will resonate more with a recruiter and will show that you have the initiative to take control or go out of your comfort zone.

Problem Solving Skills;

-Examples might be if you had a fault with the registers at your work and had to create a work around, you may have been understaffed and had to find others to work or delegate tasks to ensure that the business ran smoothly while client or customer commitments were also met. You may have had a project at university that required problem solving skills, use these as an examples. Many people solve problems on a daily basis yet have trouble recognizing this as it is something that we get used to doing! Think of a situation where you were met with an issue and that you responded in a way that made you proud.

An example of diplomacy and clarity in a sensitive situation:

-This was a tricky question. We believed that the question was asking to give an example of where negotiation skills were used in a difficult situation. This may have been due to personal circumstances, cultural relations or emotional sensitivity. Once my friend had interpreted the question in a more meaningful way she was able to pinpoint a great experience she had while volunteering that demonstrated this exactly. 


So there you go, people often over complicate and worry about addressing a Key Selection Criteria, remember that the recruiter is looking to see how you demonstrated or developed skills and abilities in your own personal experiences.

  • Make sure your spelling and grammar are correct
  • Use memorable personal experiences
  • Make sure you are addressing what is being asked correctly; use the same language in your response as present in the question.
  • Be clear and get to the point, make it simple for the reader to connect your skills and experiences with what is being asked
  • If you are having trouble understanding the question or connecting an experience then brainstorm it!

You can find more information on job applications and addressing key selection criteria here.

You can also have your Key Selection Criteria reviewed by a Peer Career Advisor, during semestser you can pop by for a Drop-In in the learning commons or alternatively you can e-mail your documents to careers@vu.edu.au.