How to make the most of your Job application form!

About application forms

If you are applying for a job in a large organisation or the public sector, you may well find that you are asked to complete an application form rather than submit a CV. Employers often prefer application forms over CV’s as they allow information to be collected about candidates in a standard way that is easy to compare in a fair and impartial way.

Application forms can be completed online although many companies do still send out forms as part of an application pack that includes information about the organisation you are applying to, a detailed job description, a person specification form and guidance notes on completing the application. It is important to read through all of this information any company supplies carefully as it often contains vital information about what you need to provide as part of your application.

Completing application forms

The application form itself will normally be divided into sections:

  • Personal details
  • Education, qualifications and skills
  • Work Experienc /History
  • Equal opportunities

The employee making the decision about whether to take you on or not often won’t even see your personal details or any equal opportunities information, so the ‘skills, qualifications and experience’ section is by far the most important one for you to concentrate on.

Some common questions or variations of questions often asked on application forms include:

  • Why do you want the role?
  • Duties and responsibilities of previous job(s).
  • Reasons for leaving last or previous job(s)?
  • Give examples of a time when you…solved a problem, managed a team, achieved results under pressure etc
  • Give examples of any other skills or experience that you think may be relevant

It is important to keep in mind that an employer going through your application will be looking to see whether you are demonstrating skills and abilities required for the role in every question. In fact, they will often have the job and person spec next to them as they read through your application like a check list, so you need to answer every question and try to relate it to the actual job your applying for where possible.

For example, if you are asked a question such as ‘Tell us about a time when you have met or exceeded sales targets in your organisation’, but you know from the job and person spec that the role also requires problem solving and team leadership skills, this is a great opportunity to feed these points back and you could answer by saying:

"Lead a sales team of 5 people but identified that targets weren’t being met initially due to lack of product knowledge. Organised product training for all team members which subsequently increased sales by 125% and meant that we exceeded sales targets".

Top tips for application forms

  • Carefully read through all information provided 
  • Take your time completing your application and amend your CV to make it relevant to the actual job your applying for.
  • Make sure you follow all basic instructions
  • Ensure that you’ve answered all the questions fully
  • Check that you’ve demonstrated all the skills, abilities and experience needed for the job 
  • Make sure that you’ve checked your spelling
  • Check that all your referees are aware of your application and that happy to give you a reference
  • Make sure you apply within any closing date or deadline as late applications may be excluded and often can't even be submitted online once the date has passed.