Learning Outcome

  • Prepare evidence to enhance employability
  • Investigate the skills and attributes required for employment.


Many job opportunities require applicants to state how they meet the position’s key selection criteria (KSC). KSC are the personal qualities, skills, abilities, knowledge and qualifications an employer has identified as being necessary to perform a role effectively. Employers from the public sector and education sector usually ask applicants to answer key selection criteria as part of the application process as way of measuring future performance in and fit to a role.

KSC are typically listed within the job advertisement and/or position description. To get through the recruitment process and be shortlisted for interview, it is important that applicants respond to each key selection criterion in a succinct and complete way. Applicants for the position are rated according to the information they present that demonstrates their skills for each of the KSC.

KSC will vary depending on the nature and requirements of the position, though many are based on general (or transferable) skills. Typical examples of KSC that you could expect to see in a job advertisement would be:

  • Good verbal and written communication skills
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work well in a team
  • Good organisational and time management skills

Providing concise and robust responses to KSC requires applicants to reflect on how they have demonstrated the skill or quality using evidence from previous activities (e.g. study, employment, extra-curricular activities, volunteering etc).

Activities and discussion

1. Position Description Activity.
In groups, ask the students to identify KSC from an existing advertisement. Select advertisements where the KSC are not immediately obvious (e.g. woven throughout) and are explicit (e.g. listed under an obvious heading in the job advertisement)
Choose a job advertisement that outlines some generic key selection criteria and provide the students with three separate sample responses from hypothetical applicants. The sample responses should be of poor, average and good quality.

  • How did they rate the quality of the responses?
  • Who they would shortlist for interview? Why?

2. Identifying evidence of skills and abilities
When responding to KSC, it is important that applicants provide specific examples of how they demonstrated the skill or ability being asked for in the criterion. Sometimes it can be difficult to pinpoint specific times when you’ve done something well, but a brainstorming activity can help students to reflect on the variety of skills they have and how they have performed them well in the past.
Ask the students to write brief notes in response to the following questions (encourage them to draw on a variety of experiences, such as university life, part time work, volunteering, extra-curricular activities):

  • Tell me about a time when you feel you worked well in a team?
  • Give an example of when you took initiative to solve a problem or help someone out?
  • Explain an example of when you had to meet a deadline. What did you do to make sure you succeeded?

Then in pairs, ask the students to verbally articulate their answers to each other. Students can take turns giving each other feedback on how well they communicated their skills and achievements and how they might improve on getting their point across. Students can then revisit the questions above and improve on their notes based on feedback.

3. The STAR Method for responding to Key Selection Criteria
Note: This activity can either compliment or replace Activity 2 “Identifying Evidence of Skills and Abilities” as it requires students to provide more structured and detailed example responses to common key selection criteria and assist with brainstorming examples.
When responding to KSC, it is important that your answer has sufficient detail, flows like a story and provides a comprehensive picture of how you have demonstrated the skill or quality being asked for by the employer. You can do this by using the STAR Method

  • Situation – Set the context by describing the circumstance where you used the skills or qualities and gained the experience
  • Task – What was your role?
  • Action – What did you do and how did you do it?
  • Result – What was the outcome? What did you achieve and how does it relate to the job you are applying for?

Ask the students to write detailed notes in response to some common KSC (encourage them to draw on a variety of experiences, such as university life, part time work, volunteering, extra-curricular activities) for each section of the STAR. You may refer to the APS Factsheet or Careers Victoria source on KSC for samples of quality answers to common KSC.

Further Resources


Face-to-face, mode or flipped classroom


Up to 1 hour

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