Churchill Education
Helen, Churchill’s HR Manager

Last month, Helen downloaded some of her most valuable inside knowledge to give you the inside word on the secrets to a successful job application. This month, her top tips continue with advice on that particular part of job applications that everyone dreads – addressing selection criteria.

1. Do your research
Before you apply for a job and especially before you attend an interview, it’s a good idea to thoroughly research the organisation that you’re applying for a position with. This will provide you with valuable insight to inform your application. Based on what you find out; you may also be able to determine more about what they need from an employee in a particular role. Look closely at their marketing materials. How do they position themselves? Where do they sit in the marketplace? Have they issued any press releases or financial reports? What media coverage have they received, positive and/or negative? Look at competitors as well – what challenges are they up against?

Bothering to do this also demonstrates that you have initiative, you aren’t afraid to put effort into something, you are invested and genuinely interested in the potential role, and you have a grasp of the context that you would be operating in, if you were successful.

2. Practice interview scenarios
How do you usually fare in interviews?

Are you pretty confident?

Do you know what sort of questions you might be asked and have some ideas how to answer them?

If you’re not, it might be a good idea to put in a little bit of practice. Just as you would do when addressing selection criteria, have a think about workplace examples you can give that demonstrate and highlight your skills and abilities. Some other things to think about are how to frame your employment history and choices. How would you respond if you’re asked a tough question about a gap in your resume? What about if you’re asked what your weaknesses are? This article has some good suggestions for responding to tricky questions. Check it out and arm yourself with pre-prepared answers!

We’ve also got a blog post on our website for those of you who aren’t keen on talking yourself up. It’s called ‘Our top 3 tips about how to sell yourself without selling your soul’ and it’s a must-read for anyone who wants to learn how to showcase yourself and your attributes without being obnoxious.

3. Address selection criteria using STAR method
The STAR model is a framework for responding to key selection criteria. Using the STAR model ensures that you answer in a way that demonstrates comprehension and provides evidence. For each criterion, you can use the STAR structure as follows:

Give context – describe the situation or circumstances you were in.

What did you need to do in this situation? What was your role and/or responsibility?

What did you do? How did you resolve the situation?

What was the positive outcome when you took that action? What were the benefit of this outcome as opposed to alternatives? What did you accomplish or learn?

Here’s an example:

Key Selection criterion: Effectively handles customer complaints

Answer using STAR method:

In my role as Customer Service Manager at XYZ Bank, I was tasked with handling any customer complaints that had been escalated by call centre staff. On one occasion, I had to speak to a very irate, high-profile customer who believed they should have been approved for a personal loan due to their longstanding relationship with the bank. However, their financial situation did not indicate that repayments for such a loan would be viable for them. (S)

It was important to preserve the relationship with the client, as they were an outspoken and influential community member. If this customer chose to publicise their discontent, they could damage the reputation of the XYZ brand and have a detrimental impact on the fidelity of other customers. However, I could not approve the loan, as it directly contravened much of the XYZ criteria for applicants, which is non-negotiable. (T)

I spoke with the customer for over an hour, and gave them a platform to air their concerns. I listened actively, validated their status as a valuable customer, and clearly explained again the reasons the loan application was rejected, in a pleasant and non-defensive tone. I made it clear that it was not personal, and gave the customer clear instructions for what to do in order to re-apply successfully. (A)

1. By the end of the telephone call, the customer was so satisfied with the service I had given and the empathy that I had displayed that they volunteered to write a positive review of XYZ and publish it on their own social media channels. Following their review, XYZ enjoyed an 8% rise in new customer intakes over the period of one month. (R)

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