19 May 2023
Many companies (especially large firms) use application forms when recruiting: this is because they can quickly and efficiently get a response for those questions they need answering the most, which is difficult and time consuming if trying to achieve the same goal with CVs.
Application forms also make it much easier to compare candidates with one another. We’ve included a few basics below which we hope help you submit a great application:
Research the Company
Before you start to complete any application form, the first thing you should be doing is research the company you are applying to work for. By familiarising yourself with their business you can relate your application to the needs of the employer. Researching a company, and reflecting that research in your application, shows the recruiter that you are interested and you’ll automatically become a more attractive candidate.
Don’t Make Mistakes
Secondly, a very important factor in creating a successful application is minimising the number of mistakes you make. With this in mind it’s important you understand the application form, so before you even start to complete it, take a moment to familiarise yourself with how the application operates.
Work Offline on the Application Form
Whether it’s an online application form, or a downloadable one, our advice is always to draft your responses in a separate word document before you move them into the appropriate fields or form. This allows you to constantly review and edit the information you include without fear of pressing the ‘send’ button at the wrong time. It also means you can make sure your word counts are correct and that the application flows well. The key here is to avoid needless mistakes, as they can make you look bad. Submitting a half-completed application form gives rise to questions about your overall competence.
Don’t Ramble Needlessly
You will almost always be limited to a certain number of characters for each field you have to complete: this is to prevent people rambling on too long. This does, however, mean that you have limited space to express yourself, so be sure to make the most of it! Summarise yourself if you have to keep it short and snappy but try to include as much information about yourself as possible. This can be quite difficult to master at first if you are more used to writing in long-form.
One of the best ways to master writing concisely while still conveying meaning is to use twitter or other micro blogging platforms as practice, as there are character limits that you need to adhere to in order for your information to be successfully posted.
Give Good Examples
A benefit of application forms for recruiters is that they can ask for specific examples of your past work or skills which fit with the picture of their ideal candidate. These questions can take any form they wish and only they know exactly what they are looking for.
It shouldn’t generally deviate all that far from the job specification though, so giving examples of competencies that hit all of the requirements should stand you in good stead, as long as you answer the question you were asked, as opposed to the one you might have liked to have been asked.
Generally, competency based application forms can be complex and time consuming, and they need you to give some thought to how you match up to the type of behaviours and skills the recruiter wants to see in their workforce.
This generally requires you to give examples of work you’ve done which demonstrates how well you did it, some of your thought processes, the skills you used and knowledge you demonstrated to achieve a good result. Bear this in mind when you’re writing your examples and try to answer as comprehensively as you can.
Quick Application Form Tips
Just a few quick tips before we close:
Never lie on your application form. This should go without saying but there does seem to be a belief that lying in job applications is consequence-free. The reality is rather different and we wouldn’t like to see you find this out the hard way. Even if you’re not found out during the selection process, these things can come to light once you’re employed and could actually lead to your dismissal. Dishonesty is considered to be gross misconduct and a legitimate reason for terminating employment.
Proof read your application over and over again, and ask friends to do the same for you. This will help to identify any areas of weakness, though of course, it is only as good as the friends that you ask, so be sure to choose the people you ask carefully.
Don’t include any information in your form which you’re not able to expand upon or explain more fully at a job interview. It can lead to highly embarrassing situations and can make you look dishonest, in the worst-case scenario. If you only mention things that you are comfortable talking about in more detail, it will allow you to expand on the points you made on the form if you are called for an interview.
Keep a copy of your final application – if you’ve done well enough to get an interview, read it again before you go along. It can be helpful to refresh your mind beforehand in order to ensure that you know the kind of things that you may be asked about. Having the examples that you used in the application fresh in your mind can make it easier to recall the specific incidents you have mentioned where you demonstrated certain skills etc.
If you didn’t get to the next stage, then at least you have a document you can refer to for help with the next job. You may even decide that there are lessons to be learned from the application form in terms of things not to do for the next time. Keeping the form gives you the best chance to learn from both your mistakes and your successes.