How to complete an application form
How to answer common application form questions
Many employers will ask you to complete an online application form instead of, or in addition to, providing a CV. They are used to ensure a systematic way of comparing candidates. Two of the most common types of questions are outlined here.
For this type of question, you need to provide evidence of a particular skill and where you have put it into practice. Employers expect you to present this using the STAR (Situation Task Action Result) framework. Use the proportions suggested below to ensure the majority of your answer is on what you did and what the outcome was.
Situation (10%) – briefly clarify the situation, and provide context for your example.
Task (15%) – what was the objective or challenge being addressed?
Action (50%) - be clear about what you did to meet the objective or overcome the challenge.
Result (25%) - reflect on the impact of your actions. Did you meet the objective? Quantify your result where possible (for example, percentage increase. in sales or attendance at an event you organised). Can you express the result in more qualitative terms such as increased confidence in a group of tutees?
Describe a situation where you have had to use an innovative way to solve a problem (200 words)
As a camp counsellor I was responsible for a hut housing a group of ten children, helping the children settle into the camp and encouraging them to join in activities. The hardest part was getting the children to keep the hut tidy and join in the daily 'household chores' session: a problem which I found was shared by other counsellors. I decided to motivate the children by turning this session into an inter-hut competition with a progress chart and prizes and arranged for the camp director to carry out daily inspections. I produced a wall chart to show the points awarded to each hut and explained to the children how the points would be won and lost. The competitive spirit transformed the children's attitude to tidying up as each hut worked as a team to keep their surroundings clean and tidy. There were no more problems with children 'disappearing' at clear-up time and parents were amazed to hear how involved their children had become in this activity.
These are more general questions that invite you to provide a longer answer; examples include “describe your reasons for wanting this position giving relevance of previous education and experience” and “please provide any other information you feel is relevant to your application”. You might have a word limit, or unlimited word count. Either way, keep your answer concise, relevant and backed up with examples. Avoid writing in a very academic style but keep the tone professional.
Use headings and/or paragraphs to break up sections.
Cover the most relevant and important information first and create a logical flow between sections/paragraphs.
Finish with a summary sentence or paragraph which sums up your enthusiasm and suitability for the job.
The employer might tell you what they expect you to cover but if not:
Why are you interested in this job and organisation? Demonstrate the research you have done into the organisation and your understanding of and enthusiasm for the job.
What experience do you bring? Start with your most relevant and recent experience.
What skills do you have that are key to this job? Use the person specification as a guide on the skills you should evidence.
Describe your reasons for wanting this position (200 words).
As a law graduate, I am attracted to the opportunity to work as a Legal Analyst with your Firm as it will allow me to utilise my research and analytical skills developed as part of my legal studies. In particular, when undertaking my dissertation project I collected primary data from over thirty prison authorities through Freedom of Information requests and made a number of recommendations on prisoner rights based on the evidence gathered. I achieved an 80% grade for my dissertation and it provided me with experience of managing a research project from start to finish. My positive experience of research within the academic field has informed my career ambition to work in legal research. I would appreciate the opportunity to work for your Firm, not only because of its ranking within the top 10 of the Legal 500, therefore providing me with exposure to a range of international clients, but also due to your commitment to corporate social responsibility such as providing pro bono legal advice to prisoners, with universal human rights being a core belief of mine as reflected in my dissertation research and volunteer experience with Amnesty International.