What is the deal with Government Selection Criteria?

What is the deal with Government Selection Criteria?

If you have ever applied for a Government job, whether Federal, State/Territory or Local, you have probably encountered the unique beast that is the government Key Selection Criteria.

The Key Selection Criteria are, as they sound, the basis upon which most of your application for a job is judged. If you have not strongly (and comprehensively) addressed the Key Selection Criteria in your application (and no matter how well suited you are to the role or how good your CV), it is very unlikely you will progress to an interview.

It sounds harsh – and it often is. We have been members of selection panels where we have known people personally, people we know to perform at a very high level and who might even already be acting in the job for which they’re applying – but if their responses to the Key Selection Criteria haven’t hit the mark, we have had no choice but to take them out of the running.

Think of it this way: Your job application is a three-legged stool, and the Key Selection Criteria are one of three legs upon which your job application will stand.

Have you ever tried to sit on a two-legged stool? Not easy.

The other two legs on this metaphorical stool, which will determine whether you are ultimately successful in snaring your dream job, are your CV and your interview.

In the private sector, there is not such a heavy reliance on equally strong performance across the board. Jobs are regularly filled without interviews, or even without recruitment processes at all. If you want to be promoted, your boss clicks her fingers and BAM – you’re promoted.

In Government, this can never happen.

Why? Two simple words: Procedural Fairness.


What is Procedural Fairness?

Put simply, procedural fairness requires Governments at all levels to treat everyone – both its employees and members of the public at large – equally and without preference in all its dealings.

If you are given a parking fine or denied a health care, you have the right to appeal. By the same token, if you are unsuccessful in applying for a Government job, you have recourse to an independent review of that decision.

If it is found that the decision was not made completely free of subjectivity, interference or bias, it will be overturned.

In practice, this means that recruitment processes in Government must follow a strictly rigid formula, assessing each candidate against a set of objective criteria drawn from both Generic Selection Criteria (i.e. how good are you at being an effective public servant?) and (usually) Position-Specific Criteria (i.e. how suitable are you for the specific position for which you have applied?).

If you are considered suitable for the position, you will be ranked against all the other suitable candidates for the role.

We have more detail about this process elsewhere on the website, but for present purposes simply note that each applicant receives an effective ‘score’ for each of the elements of the application. Much like a constitutional referendum, you need to achieve the minimum score in each of the three areas, as well as overall, in order to land the job.

This is why your Key Selection Criteria are so critical. You can assume everyone has a decent enough CV (since the rules of CV writing are quite well-known), but your Key Selection Criteria are the best opportunity you have to really distance yourself from the pack.

So make the most of it!