public service

Want to join the public service? Get to know Key Selection Criteria

Are you looking to enter the public service? If you are not already, you will need to become familiar with Key Selection Criteria. Key Selection Criteria are essential for most public service roles.

They are used to decide which candidate is the best fit. Their purpose is to outline the skills, knowledge and experience the successful candidate will need. They allow the employer to assess each candidate on merit.

Hays, Michael Page and the University Of Sydney outline what Key Selection Criteria are and tips on how to write them.

Key Selection Criteria

Key Selection Criteria can be broken down into five main categories


Skills criteria may refer to technical or soft skills

An example of a skills criterion might be: Advanced skills across a range of computer programs and platforms.


Knowledge criteria may refer to specialised understanding or broad knowledge

An example of a knowledge criterion might be:  A knowledge of the workings of local government.


Experience criteria may refer to expected previous job experience and outcomes

An example of an experience criterion might be: Experience managing a diverse range of stakeholders


Qualifications criteria may refer to qualifications or certificates needed for a position.

An example of a qualifications criterion might be: Relevant engineering qualification or certificate required


Attributes criteria refer to qualities, values and ethics

An example of an attributes criterion might be: Take Responsibility for delivering intended outcomes


Key Capabilities

Increasingly Key Selection Criteria are based on key capabilities

For example, Resilience and problem solving

While not always, a job application often requires Key Selection Criteria to be outlined in a separate document.

In this document you must outline your response to each of these criteria, taking note of any page or word limits.



No matter what the Key Selection Criteria says you should follow the following tips.

  • Read the job advertisement, KSC and position description thoroughly and carefully. If you do not have a strong understanding of these it will be difficult to sell yourself as the best person for the job
  • Take time to understand each criterion. Highlight any key words and what you think the employer is looking for
  • Apply criteria to your situation. How do your skills, knowledge and experience align with those outlined in the criteria
  • List how you display the behaviour, knowledge, skills and personal qualities outlined in the criteria, using specific examples. Try to make the examples as relevant to the criteria as possible.
  • Summarise your examples into 60-120 words for each criterion.
  • In your response, try to use relevant keywords, trying to use the same phrases mentioned in the criteria
  • If a Key Selection Criteria has multiple parts try to mention all of these. For example, if a criterion asks for excellent written and verbal communication try to provide examples for both of these.
  • Update your resume so it highlights the skills, knowledge and experience outlined in the Key Selection Criteria
  • Talk to your referees and ensure they know the selection criteria for the position.
  • You can use the Situation Action Outcome approach. Situation Where and when did you do it? Action: What did you do and how did you do it? Outcome: What was the result of your actions?


selection criteria

While it is an essential part of public service job applications, understanding key selection criteria isn’t always easy.

Public Service Resumes can help. We offer a key selection criteria writing service.