Developing selection criteria

Selection criteria provide candidates with a list of the key skills, knowledge, experience and attributes required to successfully fulfil the responsibilities and duties of the position. They also provide a measure against which candidates can be evaluated throughout the selection and appointment process and enable members of the Selection Panel to assess a candidate's suitability.

The Minimum standards for academic staff will provide the general context to assist you in developing selection criteria for academic positions. The selection criteria should reflect the University's values , specific position requirements and responsibilities and relate to the attributes required and level of skills, knowledge and experience necessary to perform the research, scholarship and teaching duties required of the position.

For professional positions, the selection criteria should reflect the University's specific position requirements and responsibilities and relate to the qualifications, skills, abilities and experience required to successfully perform the responsibilities and duties of the position.

When developing criteria for management and supervisory positions, frame the criteria to reflect the key responsibilities/accountabilities of the position. Where possible, write the criteria from an 'outcome perspective' and give consideration to the professional and managerial/leadership knowledge, skills and experience required for the role.


  • Proven ability to manage/lead a team or group in the achievement of goals and objectives, specifically to:
    • Develop clear team direction;
    • Manage workload and allocation of tasks;
    • Assist and encourage employees to improve performance and/or develop professionally;
    • Provide ongoing informal and formal feedback; and
    • Manage performance.
  • Demonstrated ability to manage the financial and other resources available to a work unit within policy guidelines and budgetary expectations;
  • Demonstrated leadership in providing development opportunities and training for staff to enhance performance and individual goals;
  • Demonstrated ability to foster a culture of continuous improvement and commitment to achieving effective business outcomes;
  • Demonstrated leadership in providing high quality service that:
    • Develops client relationships; and
    • Embeds a service culture.
  • Evidence of leadership and commitment to the principles of equity, diversity and occupational health.

After reading the criteria, it should be clear to the candidate that they are required to demonstrate what they have done and the result or outcome achieved. Your HR Business Partner will assist you with developing selection criteria for managerial or supervisory positions if required.

  • Keep the criteria realistic and concise;
  • List the criteria in priority order, normally with no more than 8 - 10 criteria for any position;
  • Provide a logical and consistent link between the selection criteria, the position description and the advertisement;
  • Ensure equity and diversity principles are observed;
  • Avoid using terminology or jargon which may be unfamiliar to candidates from outside the University sector;
  • Do not use gender-specific language.
  • Select the adjectives describing attributes with care, for example 'some knowledge in', 'proven ability' and 'extensive experience'
  • Describe the skills and experience required as observable behaviours, rather than personal qualities of the type of person who may have them. For example:
    • Use: 'demonstrated ability to supervise administrative staff'.
    • Do not use: 'minimum of five years supervisory experience' or 'mature person with supervisory experience'.

Check that your criteria are:

  • Reflecting the University's values;
  • Free from direct or indirect discrimination;
  • Not biased in favour of internal or external candidates;
  • Related to the real requirements of the position;
  • Written in simple and clear language;
  • Not overlapping or excessive in number (ie no more than 10 separate criteria);
  • Measuring only one set of knowledge, skills and/or abilities in each criterion; and
  • Can be assessed by the Selection Panel.

Some key expressions used in selection criteria, and their usual meanings are summarised below:

Term Usual meaning
Background in Usually used in reference to educational qualifications or area of specialisation.
Experience in Have performed the task.
Proven record in Can substantiate any claims to the experience or skill, preferably with documented outcomes.
Knowledge of Familiarity gained from actual experience or from learning.
Awareness of The least amount of familiarity with a matter, but conscious of its existence.
Understanding of More than knowledge, comprehension of the matter and perception of its significance.
Aptitude for Suitability or fitness for the task or role, may have potential but not proven capacity or ability.
Capacity to Able or qualified to perform a task, may draw on transferable skills.
Ability to Having the skills, knowledge or competency to do a required task and have previously done the task.

Qualifiers such as:
- Well developed
- Demonstrated
- Extensive
- High level

All indicate that what is being claimed must be able to be soundly supported with concrete examples which show breadth and depth of experience and/or capacity. (It is best to decide on the hierarchy at the outset).
Function Usual meaning
Manage 'Doing things right', asking 'how and when': achieving objectives through the effective management of physical, financial, technological, information, and/or human resources.
Lead 'Doing the right thing', asking 'what and why': setting directions, acting as a change agent, being a spokesperson, being an innovator and originator.
Supervise 'To coordinate, direct and inspect at first hand, other people's work performance and output'.
Organise 'Determining the specific activities necessary to accomplish planned goals; grouping the activities into a logical pattern, framework or structure'; and either 'carry out the activities or assign them to specific positions and people'.
Administer Directing the execution of a program, often according to guidelines or regulations. Responsibility for administering a program that may involve the management of resources, supervision of a team and organisation of program details.

Adapted from: Villiers, Ann D. (1996) How to write Selection Criteria: Improving Your Chances of Being Shortlisted for a Job, 2nd edition, Hawker, ACT

If you require assistance in establishing selection criteria, please contact your HR Business Partner.