There’s that collective grown again; no one likes writing selection criteria responses (well, at least no one I know). However, as my last post stated, the need for the skill of responding to selection criteria questions is not a dying art. Unfortunately.
So, if we have to do it, we need to do it well and very rarely do I see responses that are on the money. Here are five tips to help you improve your responses:
1. Answer each criterion individually and in a separate document.
When formal selection criteria are a part of your application process, you need to make sure that you respond to these criteria in a document separate to your cover letter and resume. They aren’t looking for a ten page essay about yourself for a cover letter, they want you to number each criterion and respond individually.
2. Be concise and specific.
Trust me when I say that waffle will get you nowhere. This is the place to write clear, articulated arguments for how you meet the needs of each criterion, rather than waffle on about unsubstantiated information that is powerless because it isn’t backed up.
3. Structure, structure, structure.
You may feel like you are heading back to school and writing a report again, but it is important to structure your responses appropriately. Start with a general introduction about how you meet the criterion, what skills you have and how you have developed them over the course of your experience. Then back your statements up with an example. BOOM. You have proven that you meet their requirements.
4. Use the STAR/SAO approach to writing your selection criteria responses.
The STAR (Situation Task Action Outcome) and SAO (Situation Action Outcome) approaches to responding to criteria requirements are vital to your success. You need to clearly articulate the context of your example, what you actually did and what the result was in order to successfully demonstrate your ability to meet the requirement outlined in the criterion.
Plan each of your answers before you start writing. Write a brief plan for the introduction, then think of an example and use the STAR/SAO approaches as dot points to help you nut out the framework of your evidence prior to writing it all out.
It is a time consuming, tedious task and can take several days to complete in entirety, however, once you know what you are doing (see above!) it’s really not that difficult. Keep in your mind that you need to back up your claims with specific examples from your background and you will be well on your way.