So you want a government job? You’re not alone. The public sector is a sought-after career path for many professionals thanks to its generous employee benefits, job stability and favourable working conditions.

Although government jobs span a diverse range of roles and specialisations, being shortlisted as an applicant requires more than simply having relevant skills and experience. To be selected for an interview, it’s critical to address the key selection criteria for the role in your job application.

In this article, we cover what you need to know about selection criteria responses for government jobs and how to maximise your chance of landing an interview.

RELATED: How to get a government job in Australia

What are key selection criteria?

Key selection criteria cover the skills, experience and qualities a candidate needs to perform a government role effectively. Broadly speaking, criteria can be broken down into five categories:

  1. Skills: This can include specific technical skills, as well as soft skills such as time management and interpersonal abilities.
  2. Knowledge: This refers to the depth of understanding acquired through education, training or through on-the-job experience. Some government jobs require specialised knowledge, while others need a broad understanding of a variety of areas.
  3. Experience/results: This includes expected job experience and outcomes of the person filling the role.
  4. Qualifications: This can include educational qualifications as well as relevant licences, registrations, memberships to a professional body and trade certifications.
  5. Attributes: This covers areas such as work ethic, values and code of conduct.

Every government job listing is accompanied by unique key selection criteria that the hiring manager will be considering when reviewing applications.

Consequently, when applying for a government job, it’s important to include specific examples or situations where you have demonstrated the skills and qualities outlined in the key selection criteria. The more comprehensively you address the criteria, the better your chances will be of making the shortlist for an interview.

The selection criteria also gives you the opportunity to assess how suited you are for the role, and whether it’s worth your time to apply for the job.

Key selection criteria examples

To help better understand what’s required, let’s look at some hypothetical examples of selection criteria responses for government jobs, in each of the five categories:

1. Example skill criteria: Sound interpersonal skills with demonstrated experience engaging key stakeholders to achieve optimal business outcomes

Example answer: Being able to engage with a diverse range of stakeholders is an important skill in any engineering role. In my previous position at X Company, I worked with multiple departments to successfully deploy a key software project on time and within budget.

2. Example knowledge criteria: Demonstrated working knowledge of infrastructure platforms

Example answer: Over the past five years, I have developed in-depth knowledge of infrastructure platforms including Amazon Web Services, Azure, Google and Oracle Cloud.

3. Example experience criteria: Extensive experience of technologies within Amazon Web Services

Example answer: I have extensive experience working with AWS technologies and systems including CodeCommit, Systems Manager, Route53, Load Balancers and CodePipeline.

4. Example qualifications criteria: Relevant engineering qualification or certificate required

Example answer: I hold a degree in software engineering and AWS Certification in DevOps Engineering.

5. Example attributes criteria: Take responsibility for delivering on intended outcomes.

Example answer: Accountability and reliability are two of my most important workplace values. In my last role, my manager cited my ability to take responsibility for my work outcomes as a major contributor to my promotion.

Top tips for responding to key selection criteria

  • Take time to understand the criteria. Carefully consider what each criterion means and what’s being asked of you.
  • Apply the criteria to your situation. Think about how your skills, experience and values align to each of the criteria. If helpful, jot down preliminary notes you can refine for your application.
  • Use examples. Add validity to your application by providing real-world examples of how you fulfill the selection criteria.
  • Use relevant keywords. Without copying word-for-word, try to employ the same phrases as those used in the selection criteria.
  • Update your resume. Tailor your resume so it highlights the specific skills, experience and attributes outlined in the selection criteria.
  • Talk to your referees. Make sure your referees are aware of the selection criteria and the types of questions they might be asked if they’re contacted about the job.

Looking for government work? Michael Page’s consultants have deep expertise in public sector recruitment – explore our open government jobs or get in touch to discuss opportunities in your field.

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