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How to Respond to the Selection Criteria of your Dream Job
Competency based criteria (also known as situational questions) are one of the most commonly used questions you will come across regardless of your industry sector.
These are the types of questions where the interviewer will ask you to discuss a specific example of where you have demonstrated some type of behaviour in your previous experience.
Whilst, on the face of it, these questions appear to be relatively straight forward, there are some important points to remember when accomplishing your response cover letter.
1. Structure your answer properly.
The best way to structure your answer is by using what is commonly referred to as the STAR method / format.
STAR stands for:
S – Situation – What was the situation you / your employer faced?
T – Task – What tasks were involved in that situation?
A – Action – What actions did you take?
R – Result – What were the results of those actions?
Using the STAR method when answering competency based selection criteria achieves two very important things. Namely, keeping your answers succinct and making it as easy as possible for the interviewer to score you highly by being able to pick out key information easily. It also allows particularly strong candidates to discuss their achievements in a very specific and detailed way.
2. Read the criteria carefully.
Commonly, behavioural/competency based criteria tend be long-winded and may sound vague (blame an overuse of adjectives, adverbs and trendy language.) By reading the criteria thoroughly, you enable yourself to respond and provide the most appropriate example.
3. Make sure you understand the criteria before you start to respond.
If you read the criteria, but did not fully understand what it require, do not hesitate to ask for help. You may email the company or the recruiter, paraphrase the criteria based on how you understand it and ask for their confirmation.
You also have the choice to consult a professional in the Human Resource field to assist you in composing a brief but concise document that has a higher chance of being noticed by the recruiting body. If you did not fully understand a criterion or two, avoid attempting to address it with incoherent thoughts.
4. Keep it brief.
Another important point to remember when responding to selection criteria is to keep your answer succinct. There is a tendency when you find yourself under some pressure to go way off on a tangent and you start rambling on at length about something you think is connected to the answer.
Your answer should be a maximum of a couple of sentences (if possible) for each of the points in the STAR method.
5. Organise your response.
Allow yourself some time to collect your thoughts and structure your response. Recruiters appreciate a well-thought, and well-structured document to reduce the amount of time spent in reading and trying to decode your answers.
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