Application forms are designed by employers and recruiters to quickly retrieve the information they need about you as a candidate and make an informed decision about who deserves to be taken to the interview stage.
So, like with your CV, it’s crucial that you showcase your abilities and stand out from the rest of the pile. But when someone else is asking the questions, how do you get across what you want them to know?
Here’s 15 question types you’re likely to face and how to make the most of your answers:
Employers want to make sure you’re applying for this job for the right reasons and that you’ll be a fit within the company. Here’s how they might word it:
1. Why do you want to work for this company?
2. What about this sector interests you?
3. What about the role do you think you would enjoy most?
4. What are your career goals both short and long term?
5. Where do you see yourself in five years?
This is where your research of the company comes in. Show you’ve done your homework and mention things about both the company and wider sector that peaked your attention. And you’re your personal motivations by sharing a brief overview of your five year plan.
Employers don’t just want to know where you worked and when. They want to know what you learnt during your time in each role and how that experience is relevant and can be applied to the job you’re applying for. For example:
6. What was your most challenging experience? And how did you overcome it?.
7. Discuss a time when a deadline couldn’t be met. How did you deal with it?
8. Describe a time when you had to convey a difficult concept to someone. How did you tackle it?
9. Talk about a time when you challenged the normal ways of working or thinking with a new approach.
10. Give an example of when you have successfully worked with a team to complete a project or task. How did you contribute to the project?
The employer wants to understand what type of worker you are and picture how you will fit within the team. They also want to determine whether your experience and reactions to challenges are right for the role you’re applying for. This doesn’t have to be limited to work scenarios either. The best way to get across an honest and concise answer is to use the STAR formula (situation, task, action and result) to give structure and tick all boxes.
As part of understanding how you will fit into the role, the employer will want to establish what your strengths are. They may word this in various ways:
11. Which tasks do you find naturally easier?
12. What tasks do you most enjoy doing?
13. What subjects did you excel at in school or higher education?
14. Which of your achievements are you most proud of and why?
15. When do you feel the most motivated; at the beginning or end of a project?
It’s important to be truly self-aware and honest when answering strength questions. Try to consider what the employer is looking for as well, based on the initial job description, and try to cross over your own strengths with those in description.
One final tip for job applications: always go back through and make sure you have answered every question (and sub question) in full, and haven’t made any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Then keep a copy before submitting as it could be handy to look back at when interview stage comes around.