Correctly interpret selection criteria and use them to your advantage

In a job description, employers state selection criteria to sensibly and effectively limit the number of candidates who come into question. The specified criteria describe the required qualifications, the desired experience, and required soft skills for the vacant position in the company. With the following steps you give yourself the advantage you need over your competition and show that you are right for the job.

Understand the meaning of selection criteria

Like job references, job advertisements have their own language. Words such as "desirable" or "and if you also..." are softer factors, and fulfilling such selection criteria gives you bonus points. Examples of more important sentences include "this is something you need to have" or "these requirements need to be satisfied". Such criteria are required criteria. In order to reach the inner circle of applicants you need to satisfy at least two-thirds of the required criteria. Thus, take time to carefully read the job advertisement so that you are a step ahead of other applicants. You also have the option of consulting a recruitment consultant to gain even more insight into the open position. Under certain conditions said consultant can give you insider knowledge and provide you with optimal support in your preparations.

Recognise the individual parts

Most of the time job advertisements are phrased in a brief, concise manner, and multiple requirements may be hidden in a single sentence. It is important that you recognise all specified selection criteria and treat each and every selection criterion in your application. For example: "We expect a professional and proactive demeanour vis-à-vis our customers and an ability to bear stress." When completing your application documents, your task is to satisfy all three parts of the selection criteria with relevant examples:
  • Describe your ability to cope with stressful situations.
  • Describe your professional demeanour.
  • Provide an example of how you act proactively.
In order to satisfy the selection criteria, you need to identify and substantiate all of them with specific examples.

Brainstorming: how do you fulfil the requirements?

Claiming that you can deal with stressful situations does not paint a picture. Think about how you have satisfied the specified selection criteria in the past and find suitable situations. List all corresponding examples and select the most relevant and impressive examples. These examples are your basis.

Describing the examples

When answering the required selection criteria you are dealing with more than just stating your experiences and responsibilities you have had. Concrete examples help you highlight your competence and allow decision makers to get a clear picture of who you are as a person. Adhere to the following steps when phrasing your examples: explain the situation and the context, then your responsibility. Then describe how you implemented your tasks and what the positive results were. Using hard numbers is a good way to present the value of your accomplishment. Were you able to reduce costs or increase productivity? Be sure to use direct language that is easy to read. Respond to each and every selection criterion and substantiate your answers with facts about your abilities. Write a customised text for every job advertisement. Write in a way that is understandable and clear without using flowery language or superlatives.