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October 12, 2017

How to write & talk to selection criteria: The response structure

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A selection criteria response structure.

Job applicants can become stuck on how to respond to selection criteria. There are several ways to construct a response. Here is one that can form part of your toolkit.

This is a three-part structure. I’ll illustrate it with the criterion: Well developed analytical and research skills. The context of the job is a strategic HR unit.

Part 1: General statement about the criterion.

This is a short paragraph that makes a broad statement about meeting the criterion. Make sure you use the language of the criterion so that the reader knows you are talking about the right skill set.


My well developed analytical and research skills have been demonstrated during five years working as an academic research assistant and in implementing a government grants program. In both roles I researched and analyzed information about complex social issues including homelessness, obesity and literacy problems.

Part 2: Specific example/s to support the criterion.

The examples are specific instances of applying research and analytical skills. They can be structured using the SAR model:

Situation: Briefly outline the context of the example and what your role was.

Action: Give details of what you did, how and why.

Result: Briefly outline what the result was. This could be a tangible item, such as a report. If this result is measurable, then include this information. Measures can be quantitative (e.g. numbers, cost) and qualitative (e.g. standards).


While Project Officer for the Community Grants Program, I researched and analyzed options for a consultative process with community groups. My role was to prepare an executive briefing paper which identified options and recommended a course of action.

I reviewed eight consultative processes used by various government agencies, three recommended by private consultants, and completed a literature review covering the last ten years. Using a set of criteria I established based on this material, I summarized the processes, selected four that best met the Community Grants Program needs, evaluated them based on the criteria and recommended one. My recommendation was accepted by the executive, with commendations on the quality of the briefing paper. I am now developing a strategy for introducing this option into the program.

Part 3: Link to job in hand.

If there is a gap between the examples provided and the work to be done in the new job, you may wish to close with a short statement that signals the transferability of your skills to the new job.


I anticipate that these research and analysis skills will readily transfer to researching and analyzing strategic HR issues such as staff engagement, talent management and workplace planning.

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About the Author
WORK180 promotes organizational standards that raise the bar for women in the workplace. We only endorse employers that are committed to making real progress so that all women can expect better.

Looking for a new opportunity?

Our transparent job board only has vacancies from employers we endorse and lets you see what benefits, policies and perks come with the job.