Employers screen job applicants in different ways and application forms are designed to incorporate some of these requirements more fully than is possible by reviewing applicant CVs.
Consider the following typical application form questions, together with suggested model answers.
Motivation for Application
Very often the simplest questions can cause angst. One example of this:
“Reasons for applying to our organisation?”
When answering you need to research the company in order to show understanding of the role and the company’s ethos.
The following suggestion relates to finance or business graduate applying for a position with a financial organisation.
“I understand how important reliable data and analysis is to investment decision-making, as this was covered in depth throughout my studies. I am eager for employment within a major financial institution that has a solid reputation within investment banking and I am impressed by your financial forecasting. I regularly read business newspapers and have noted just how important your company contributions are to client investors.
Employment with a globally successful organisation allows me to enhance my knowledge and develop my career. My aim is to achieve global expertise in the financial sector and this role will assist.
I recently telephoned your analyst, who kindly spoke of his area of expertise and explained how his role has developed within your organisation. I am ambitious and plan to take employment with one of the market-leading investment companies and work my way towards a decision-making role.”
Skills and competencies are often queried in job application forms. Consider the following question and answer model:
Working in teams
A typical question could be: “Tell us about a time you worked as part of a team and give an example of your contribution to performance”.
You could use the STAR technique to formulate your answer in a similar fashion to that shown below:
“My Operatic Society recently organised workshops for local schoolchildren. We met on a regular basis and I was elected fundraiser for the group. I contacted the local Chamber of Commerce and managed to generate more than £300 funding from member organisations and local retailers. This money was sufficient for meeting room hire and the purchase of small prizes for children at each workshop.
Our workshops were very successful and we enjoyed them immensely. We plan to run them on a regular basis and my fundraising activities have given me added confidence as well as networking opportunities with business leaders in the locality. This team activity helped me to develop team working skills and grow as an individual.”
A sample question might be: “Provide an example of a time you had to communicate with a number of different people in order to achieve a specific goal”.
A good example of an answer from a team leader within a customer service department is:
“In my current job I have had to conduct a review of our organisation’s customer services, so the management team can assess the suitability of our responses. I conducted 100 random telephone interviews with a number of typical customers, prepared a summary and presented the findings to colleagues and management team”.
Personal Statements/Additional Information Sections
Many applications ask for personal statements. Give examples of your experiences and qualities carefully linked to the person specification. Highlight all your knowledge and experience in key areas and show reasons you are the most experienced or best-qualified person for this vacancy.
This section of the application form is the best opportunity you have to sell yourself to potential employers, so don’t neglect to personalise it to make it stand out.
If you manage to hit all of these notes for upcoming job applications, then you should be able to land that all-important interview. Good luck!