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Using the STAR model for Selection Criteria

Writing Key Selection Criteria with the STAR Model

When a job application requires writing key selection criteria, there are certain things you need to bear in mind. Some will be explicitly laid out in the position description like word or page limits, or directions to use STAR formatting. The STAR model is recommended by the Australian Public Service Commission within their guide to applying for an APS job: Cracking the Code.

STAR model

What is the STAR Model?

The most common framework that exists when writing key selection criteria, STAR is an acronym and a useful skill to apply in almost all KCS documents.

By using the STAR model, it is easy to see a link between your tasks, actions and results. It can be a helpful way to get your thoughts flowing and document your claims against the selection criteria in a way that makes sense.

STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result and applicants are told that they should write their selection criteria as follows:

  • Situation: describe a work situation that you were faced with
  • Task: describe the task that you had to complete
  • Action: describe the action that you took to complete the task
  • Result: describe the result of your action

Once you have this concept firmly understood, you can then look at the Position Description and criteria questions with fresh eyes and apply the formula to address the statements. But in order to properly address the KSC, you also much have a firm understanding of the terminology used in PD’s.

Key Expressions When Writing Key Selection Criteria

Usually, all the pointers are there, but you need to be able to quickly interpret language. For example, you must be able to quickly discern the differences between ‘demonstrated’ ‘awareness’ and ‘understanding of’, ‘ability to’ and ‘proven record’.

Background in

Often used in reference to areas of specialisation within a range of different industry types (for example accounting, human resources, or administration)

Experience in

For this descriptor, you must have actually done the work as opposed to having observed it. For example, ‘experience in analysing data’ means you must demonstrably show that you have analysed data in another role or position.

Proven record of / Demonstrated

Here, you must be able to substantiate any claims to the experience or skill, and with positive outcomes that have been documented. For example, ‘a proven record of planning, implementing and managing projects’ or ‘ demonstrated management experience in a multi-disciplinary environment’ means that that you have to document what you have specifically done and achieved in these areas.

Knowledge of, understanding of, awareness of

These expressions are often used in reference to policies, practices or the specific responsibilities of a work area. Subtle differences distinguish these terms. ‘Awareness’ involves the least amount of familiarity with a subject. For example, you are aware that a concept or policy exists but are not necessarily familiar with the details or understand the significance of the subject. ‘Knowledge of’ refers to familiarity gained from actual experience or from learning/study. For example, ‘knowledge of recent legislative changes affecting the higher education sector’. ‘Understanding’ is more than knowledge. In this instance, you may have knowledge of a policy in so far as you have read it, but understanding requires that you know why the policy was developed, who it is relevant to, why it is important and what the implications are for related policies.

Ability to, aptitude for, the capacity to

These words suggest degrees of ability. ‘Aptitude’ suggests suitability or fitness for a task or a talent or flair for a particular skill or quality. ‘Capacity’ generally means that you will be qualified to perform a particular task however you are not expected to have actual experience. For example, ‘capacity to seek and attract research funding’. You would need to demonstrate that you have the necessary skills or qualities and that these could be transferred to the position. ‘Ability’ means having the skills, knowledge or competency to do the task required.

Summary

To sum up, key selection criteria summarises the essential requirements of a position and are a compulsory requirement for employment into the public sector. Additionally, they are also becoming increasingly common in the private sector. The employer determines the standards for each selection criterion. To secure an interview, you must accurately address each selection criterion. There is a significant amount of effort you need to put into key selection criteria. But if you can stay focused on the requirements, you are very likely to make the interview.

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