Job applications - give yours a boost with these handy tips

Posted on 12 Jul 2021
 Job applications - give yours a boost with these handy tips

We're all about sharing useful information at Aspire Jobs, this month we're talking about answering job application questions

Application form questions are used to learn more about you, basic information, specific skills and motivations form a picture which can mean the difference between landing an interview or not. So, it's important to approach these questions with care and attention. Here are some top tips which will help you...

Completing the form:

  • Follow instructions carefully
  • Adhere to word/character limits
  • Use N/A where not applicable so the reader knows you've acknowledged the question

Basic info:

  • List all your education and qualifications most recent first if the order isn't stated. Emphasise subjects, modules, projects and dissertations relevant to the employer and the job.
  • In the employment and work experience section, give brief details of each, including voluntary and unpaid work if you wish.  Use the responsibilities sections to get across your achievements as well as the skills and qualities you developed and demonstrated in each role. 
  • When it comes to personal interests and achievements, employers are looking for clues to your personality. If you have a lot of interests and achievements select those which demonstrate skills the employer is seeking. Activities that demonstrate leadership and team working skills are particularly relevant.
  • Many forms have an Equal Opportunities section that asks for details such as your ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation. This helps employers measure how successful they are at attracting applicants from different sections of the population and your responses are not used for recruitment decisions. Answering such questions is normally optional.

Motivational questions:

Stay away from generic answers to these types of questions... Why do you want the job? Why do you want to work for our organisation? Your own background research will enable you to answer these questions more effectively. Your answers will help to evidence your motivation and demonstrate that your understanding of the opportunity is realistic.Whatever captures your attention, try to be as specific and authentic as possible. 

Competency-based questions:

These are common and are designed so that you can effectively evidence the relevant competency (skill) that the recruiter is looking for. Do your research and you should be in a better place to answer them. Here are some examples of competency-based questions... (make sure you read the questions carefully to be sure you're focusing on the correct competency)

  • Describe a difficult problem you have solved. How did you analyse and solve it? What did you learn from the experience? (Problem-solving)
  • Give an example of when you have worked in a team. What was your role and what did you contribute to the team performance? (Team working)
  • Describe a project, activity or event you have planned and taken through to a conclusion. Include your objective, what you did, any changes you made to your plan and state how you measured your success. (Planning)

It can be appropriate to tell a mini-story of how you demonstrated a competency in your past experience.  Use the STAR structure for best effect:

  • Situation – Provide some brief details about the situation so that the reader can understand the context of the example
  • Task – Explain the objective/purpose, i.e. what you were aiming to do
  • Action – Describe what you did. Summarise your actions in 4 or 5 individual steps, if possible
  • Result – Finish with the outcome. Show that you met your objectives and, if appropriate, comment on what you learnt from the experience

A top tip here is to draft and save all your question responses in a Word document, so you've always got a copy to reflect upon should you be invited for an interview. This enables you to proofread and also, you might send it to someone else to check before sending your application off.

Our final top tip is that before writing any responses to questions, make sure you have done your research into the opportunity and reflect on how you meet the requirements.

Source document:


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