Selection criteria. Oh, man. A quick heads-up before we dive in – these are not fun. They are time consuming, they are painstaking and require multiple, multiple proofreads. However, there are a few things you can do to make your life a whole lot easier.

The selection criteria are a list of desirable attributes that the applicant must be able to evidence. The word evidence is key here – you may very well be a great communicator – but if you have no proof of this, then it doesn’t mean squat.

Common selection criteria, in my experience, included:

  • Demonstrated clinical competence in a range of medical disciplines
  • Ability to work in a complex clinical environment
  • Ability to work as a member of a multidisciplinary team
  • Commitment to continuous professional development
  • Commitment to quality improvement
  • Evidence of excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Has an interest in the specialty

The technicalities

You have 1000 characters to answer these curly questions. This worked out about 140-160 words per response. Not much.

The New South Wales Health platform consists of a series of text boxes for you to enter responses. This platform is time limited, meaning if you decide to enter your fantastic responses directly, you may lose them just as your about to click submit. Don’t do this.

Draft your responses in a word document, and paste them across later.

How do I answer these?

Remember that diary I begged you to start in the intro blog post? This is when the investment pays dividends.

It’s your unique clinical experiences that will set you apart. It shows that you’re an experiential learner, able to reflect upon these experiences. It also provides plenty of fodder for behavioural interview questions (“Tell us about a time when…”), but we will talk more about that in part 3.

Let’s give an example.

“Demonstrates an interest in critical care medicine.”

I’ve always been interested in critical care medicine. Ever since starting medical school I have always wanted to work in intensive care. I like working with my hands and doing procedures, and will relish in the opportunity to learn a range of invasive procedures and monitoring.

This person may have a genuine interest in critical care medicine. But how do we know? Where is the evidence? I need to feel you Jerry! Show me the money!

jmcgI have sustained an interest in critical care medicine since initial exposure as a final year medical student. As a prevocational trainee, I have completed two emergency medicine terms (including a rural ED term) and an anaesthetics term. 

After attendance at your information night on (insert date here), and discussions with current Critical Care SRMOs at (insert hospital here), it is evident that the position offers a supportive, enriching environment to pursue a career in critical care medicine.

I feel like B shows that:

  1. The person has actively sought terms in the specialty
  2. They could be bothered making the trip for the information night

Aaaand few more pearls

  • Learn the values of the organisation you are applying for, and try to use this to frame your responses (for instance, the NSW Health CORE values)
  • For procedural specialties, include information from your procedural log (I have completed 32 intubations/3 central lines or 25 speculum examinations/2 forcep deliveries etc.)
  • If you don’t have a procedural log, get a procedural log
  • Try to use specific clinical examples – when was a time you effectively used ISBAR to demonstrate your stellar communication skills?
  • Don’t assume that the person reading your selection criteria will read your CV. Different departments have different methods, and sometimes your CV is only read after your responses are deemed worthy. Include as many salient points from your CV as possible.

Spell it out


Spelling errors are a deal breaker. Use a spell checker. Proof read it. Hire an editor. Just don’t let any slip through.

In the next session, we construct the CV that is going to score you that dream job.