Application forms

What are they?

This is a form (online or paper version) which will ask you questions about yourself and your reasons for wanting the job. It is important you fill application forms in effectively to give yourself the best possible chance of progressing to interview stage.

Ten top tips

  1. If a question has several parts be sure to answer all of them.
  2. Pay attention to the word count as this is how much information they need.
  3. Get a copy of the role description or person specification and write your answers to match what the employer is asking for.
  4. Make sure you include all your relevant experience and skills.
  5. Keep a copy of the application form. If you make it to the interview stage you will need to remember what you wrote.
  6. Be honest – if you don’t have a skill, state a similar skill you do have which you feel could transfer over.
  7. Allow enough time to plan your answers and complete the form.
  8. For online applications make sure you save it as you go along.
  9. Make sure you answer all the questions.
  10. Ask someone to check your application for any mistakes before you send it.

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You may find these websites helpful:

National Careers Service

Provides careers advice and information  on a wide range of jobs, training course resources and funding


Provides careers advice and information on a wide range of jobs, training course resources and funding

Provide careers advice for academic roles


It is common for application forms to include competency questions, which are looking for you to display evidence of skills such as teamwork, organising, supervising or managing, problem solving, communicating, initiative and others. The relevant skills are usually listed in the job description and person specification, enabling you to identify the competencies they are looking for.

An example of a competency-based question would be, ‘Can you describe a time when you have delivered outstanding customer service?’

The STARR method is the best way to answer competency questions.

S – Describe a situation.

T – Tell them what your task or role was.

A – Say what action you took.

R – Always talk about the result, employers like to see results driven people.

R – Sometimes it is appropriate to say how you took the time to reflect on what happened, how you decided to tackle the issue and whether and whether you would do things differently next time.

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