Selection criteria is disappearing. Is STAR dead?

Selection Criteria is Disappearing

Is STAR (Situation, Task, Approach, Result) dead? And what does that mean for applications now?

Jacquie Liversidge

By Jacquie Liversidge

Is selection criteria, and STAR, dead?

Over the course of time, selection criteria has changed a great deal.

Originally, selection criteria was only used for government and university roles, and generally used to required a whopping one full page per response. 

Moving with the punches of changing digital job submission trends, an ongoing emphasis on equality in hiring practices and challenges in talent acquisition, selection criteria has become it’s own monster.

And now, it’s disappearing.

The Victorian Public Service ask for 60 – 120 word responses to the selection criteria only, and often, they’re not even asking for a resume.

The Northern Territory government only wants a one-page “summary sheet” outlining your suitability for the role, and many Tasmanian Government roles are asking for a two-page cover letter addressing the statement of duties.

So, job applications just got a hell of a lot easier, right?

Well, no.

The key issue with this change is that the key accountabilities, the position requirements, desirable attributes and even the actual selection criteria do not change. 

You still have a massive position description to synthesize. They’re just not asking for as much of a word count from you anymore.

“Now, you must demonstrate capacity with a limited word count within which to do it, and with no clear directions on the structure.”

But you still need to be able to demonstrate your ability to meet the challenges of the role– and the best structure to formulate a behavioural response to the selection criteria will always be Situation, Task, Approach/Actions, Result (STAR).

This will remain the same, because for each behavioural response, your success hinges on your ability to walk a potential hiring manager or recruiter through your approach to a specific challenge.

What these changes to the selection criteria approach actually mean for you, is that it’s gotten a whole lot harder to structure your document.

Beforehand, you need only develop responses under the title of role.

Now, you must demonstrate capacity with a limited word count within which to do it, and with no clear directions on the structure.

The way we get our clients to interview:

The best approach we have found to get our clients to interview for positions where selection criteria is not being asked for– but where there are still key requirements and a set word or page limit– is to really narrow down the skills and experience the role is asking for within the context of the department, and then use targeted questions to our clients to develop responses that address the key accountabilities, challenges, job context and duties which form a comprehensive picture of our client as the answer to the position descriptions challenges.

The structure.

Where we are not required to develop responses directly to selection criteria, or where the directions for responses are vague, is to use a cover letter structured with behavioural responses, like this:

PARAGRAPH 1: INTRODUCTION

What this letter means: “I wish to submit my application for the role of______”

Why you’re writing: “I am confident that I would be an ideal candidate for the role, given_____”

How you understand the role: “I identify with the key challenges of the role, and can bring a commitment to the values, mission statement and vision of ______”

Thesis statement (what the whole cover letter is about): “Bringing 12 years’ directly transferable experience to the role and a proven track record of meeting organisational outcomes, I am confident of my ability to meet the challenges of the role.”

PARAGRAPH 2 - ONWARDS: INNER CONTENT

This is for the individual inner paragraphs for the whole cover letter (structured as per the selection criteria with considerations made for the word count and page limit):

Start with an overview, using the first sentence to explain what the sentence will be about: 

“I am confident of my ability to communicate at a high level with a client-centric focus. As a Client Services Officer, I consistently recorded higher than average customer feedback responses, achieving my KPI’s of over 80% customer satisfaction each month.

Then follow with: 

Situation: “On one occasion, I was faced with an irate customer who had called regarding a faulty product.

Task: He explained that he had just purchased the product and had a considerable drive home, costing him time and money to resolve the issue.

Approach: I listened to his complaint, assured him that I would find a resolution that would meet his needs at the lowest possible cost to him, and placed him on hold whilst I sought advice from management about the best possible outcome that we could provide him with. Management advised me that they would be happy to offer him a replacement product with same-day delivery, and permitted me to inform the customer of this.

Result: The customer was satisfied with that outcome and thanked me for my prompt response in the matter. Later, he left a Google review for the business outlining specifically his satisfaction with my service.”

Your paragraph as a whole should look a little something like:

I am confident of my ability to communicate at a high level with a client-centric focus. As a Client Services Officer, I consistently recorded higher than average customer feedback responses, achieving my KPI’s of over 80% customer satisfaction each month. On one occasion, I was faced with an irate customer who had called regarding a faulty product. He explained that he had just purchased the product and had a considerable drive home, costing him time and money to resolve the issue. I listened to his complaint, assured him that I would find a resolution that would meet his needs at the lowest possible cost to him, and placed him on hold whilst I sought advice from management about the best possible outcome that we could provide him with. Management advised me that they would be happy to offer him a replacement product with same-day delivery, and permitted me to inform the customer of this. The customer was satisfied with that outcome and thanked me for my prompt response in the matter. Later, he left a Google review for the business outlining specifically his satisfaction with my service.”

Replicate this structure for each of the paragraphs required.

CONCLUSION/CALL TO ACTION STATEMENT:

For the conclusion and call-to-action, you want to reiterate your core message from the cover letter, and close with an invitation for the reader to contact you.

Conclusion: “I value excellent customer and client interactions, and proactively seek to meet the needs of the customer with the best mutually beneficial response.

Call to action: Thank you for taking the time to consider my application, I can be contacted on the details contained herein for further information or to arrange an interview.”

“Yours sincerely, [YOUR NAME]”

We’re seeing excellent results with this structure, because it gives the writer the ability to really demonstrate their skills with examples in a structure which maintains good flow and engages the reader.

We hope this has helped you with your application. As always, get in touch with us for any questions you might have, and happy hunting!

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