- What are selection criteria?
- Why are selection criteria such a challenge for job applicants?
- Why do potential applicants and selection panels need to keep up to date with developments in selection criteria?
- Why do public servants perceive selecting staff to be unfair?
- What are the main challenges facing selection panels?
- The public service can be equated in the public mind with Sir Humphrey of Yes Minister fame. Is it really like that?
- Is it possible to prepare for applying for a job so you get a better result?
- Is there much difference between the private and public sector when it comes to applying for a job?
What are selection criteria?
Selection criteria are the job specific skills, knowledge and experience needed to undertake the duties of a job successfully. They are the factors against which applicants are assessed to determine their relative merit for a public service job.
Some agencies make a distinction between ‘essential’ and desirable’ criteria. This means that you need to meet the essential ones and it will be a bonus if you have the desirable ones as well.
Selection criteria used in the Australian Public Service come primarily in two forms:
- A set of criteria that are job specific. For example:
Demonstrated ability in preparation of complex correspondence and participation in management of projects.
- Generic sets of criteria or capabilities that have agency-wide application.
Several agencies now use generic capabilities as their selection criteria and add job-specific criteria which outline the key knowledge or experience required for a particular job. These position-specific criteria relate to professional, technical or subject matter knowledge, or qualifications relevant to specific jobs.
These capability statements may be based on the Australian Public Service Commission’s Integrated Leadership System
Why are selection criteria such a challenge for job applicants?
They are challenging because:
- They require a specialised writing style which may not match everyday writing. If a person hasn’t mastered this style they could well miss out of a job.
- They require sound knowledge of what you have to offer and what you have been doing. People may not have collected this information.
- Applicants may not understand their role in the process. They need to demonstrate their suitability for the job rather than assume it’s self-evident from their resume.
- Applicants must ‘tell the story’ of what they have done and ‘sell’ it both in writing and at interview.
Why do potential applicants and selection panels need to keep up to date with developments in selection criteria?
People need to keep up-to-date because:
- Processes keep changing. Agencies can devise their own recruitment and selection processes. In a competitive market these processes are being constantly refined and new techniques used.
- Research is identifying, confirming, discarding ideas about employee attraction, selection engagement and retention. This information informs agency practice.
- If staff haven’t been a member of a selection panel for some time they may operate on out-of-date ideas and information.
Why do public servants perceive selecting staff to be unfair?
The Australian Public Service Commission’s State of the Service Reports (www.apsc.gov.au) have included a section for several years about how a sample of staff perceive selection processes.
Refer to ebook
What are the main challenges facing selection panels?
The main challenges facing selection panels are:
- Attracting quality applicants when skills are in short supply.
- Clearly defining the job specifications and selection process so that the panel has a shared understanding of the job requirements, there is a clear link between job requirements and selection methods, and evidence from each applicant can be assessed against the job requirements.
- Thinking more flexibly about what can and can’t be done. People continue to operate on out-of-date information and unquestioned assumptions.
Some of the hiccups that can occur in selection processes are set out in my free ebook 101 ways to erode trust in public sector recruiting.
The public service can be equated in the public mind with Sir Humphrey of Yes Minister fame. Is it really like that?
Just as there are ‘ruthless barons’ in the private sector there are Sir Humphreys in the public sector. However, these people are not typical. The public sector has undergone considerable reform to reduce bureaucracy and red tape, and increase responsiveness. At the same time, life in the public sector cannot be divorced from the political process. Public servants are there to serve the government of the day.
Is it possible to prepare for applying for a job so you get a better result?
Applicants can under-sell themselves because they don’t understand the selection process or what they have to offer. As a result, their application or interview may miss the mark. By researching, analysing one’s portfolio, building writing and speaking skills, it is possible to get a better result.
How to Write and Talk to Selection Criteria provides exercises on how to analyse one’s portfolio and prepare for interviews.
Is there much difference between the private and public sector when it comes to applying for a job?
The public sector operates as a values-based profession. These values, set out in the Public Service Act 1999, is complemented by a Code of Conduct. Other legislation concerning discrimination and privacy for example, also needs to be taken into account when recruiting staff. (This legislation also applies to the private sector.) Combined, these documents influence how recruitment and selection are conducted. Selecting staff is based on merit and most jobs are open to the Australian community.
The selection processes are structured, based on specified work-related qualities, and involve several people in the decision-making. As a result, the process can take some time to complete.
The private sector is subject to some of the same legislation but is not constrained by the same need for accountability and transparency since tax payers’ money is not involved. Selection process can be structured, multi-part and extend over a considerable length of time. They can also be much simpler and quicker than the public sector.