A focused application form that matches your skills, interests and experience against the employer’s selection criteria is most likely to get you an interview.
Download the application form to view all the questions. Read through the job description thoroughly and critically reflect on your skills and experiences that match the requirements. Do some background research, both on the company and the particular job you are applying for.
Present yourself positively – demonstrate what you have learnt from past events, and how you have taken responsibility for the decisions you have made. Use challenges you have overcome, as evidence of your resilience and positive approach to overcoming difficult situations. If you have a disability or learning difficulty introduce it positively and show that you are still able to meet the competencies required.
Take your time and quality check everything you write. Make sure you write clearly, accurately and concisely. Make sure it’s grammatically correct and without spelling mistakes. Use Word for the draft and spellcheck the text before cutting and pasting into the form - never use text speak in your application. Use full sentences and avoid unnecessary capital letters. Don’t underestimate how much time forms can take to complete and remember that they are withdrawn automatically at the deadline, so check the time as well as the date of the deadline.
Completing the form
These will include your personal details, academic qualifications and work experience. Keep a copy of this information once you have gathered it all together as you may need it for any future application forms you complete. Make sure you are accurate and truthful. Some companies will check your qualifications and previous employers, and an offer of employment may depend on their being able to verify what you claim.
These may have sub-sections that structure the answer for you, e.g.
- Describe a situation where you had to…
- Outline your specific contribution to…
- What was the outcome of…
Competency based questions
These are designed to measure the skills and experiences you have to offer against the competencies needed for the job. You need specific examples as evidence so before you start, think of examples to draw on and match the best example you have to each skill. Try to make sure that your examples draw on a broad range of your life experiences rather than being solely focused on one area.
These could include:
- Facing a challenge or complicated task
- Persuading or influencing others
- Working as a member of a team
- Leading a team or motivating others
- Arguing your case while overcoming the objections of others
- Achieving a particular task or goal in a set time
Good answers will be structured around STAR: the Situation, the Task (what you or the team had to do), your Achievement (your contribution) and the Result (ideally a positive outcome and any lessons learned).
You will often be given a maximum word count which you won’t be able to go over. Use the number of words as a guide – don’t use words for the sake of it but, if a question allows 300 words, answering in 30 is not recommended.
The application form is also likely to ask you why you are applying for the job so summarise why this post is the next logical step in your career progression and why both the job and the organisation interest you. It’s important to demonstrate that you have thought through in detail why you want the job and what specific skills and experience you can offer. Don’t tell the employer what they already know about themselves and don’t resort to flattery. Employers will be looking for more in-depth and genuine reasons for applying.
Check whether or not you can save and return to the form before submission. Not all online applications allow this. If it does note your password so you can return to the form.
Don’t forget to save or print a copy of your completed application – you will need to refer to it if you’re asked to go for an interview!
Online application forms can be made more secure using encryption technology - so check for these safeguards before sending your personal information online.
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