Application forms are a way for employers to specify the information they want to know, allowing them to compare candidates equally.
If an employer is not asking you to submit a CV, the application form is likely to be used to gather factual information on your educational and work history. You may also be asked for information that you might not otherwise have put on a CV, such as whether you have a criminal record. This helps the employer gather basic information in a generic format.
Beyond this basic information, application forms are often used to assess your motivation by asking competency based questions. Competency-based questions may include a series of scenarios in which you have to explain what you would do if faced with a similar situation, and there are likely to be questions about the company. This assesses why you want to work for the company in the role that you’re applying for, and how well suited you are for the role. Make sure you think carefully about how you can demonstrate your suitability from your past experiences, and research the company thoroughly before starting to complete the form.
Before starting to fill out an application read through the whole form and note any details as to how the form should be filled out, such as font size or word limits. Always follow the instructions on the form. You should also gather any factual information, such as exam grades and work experience dates, before beginning your application.
Give yourself plenty of time before the application deadline to compose your answers. Using a Word document to draft your answers will give you a chance to check the content, grammar and spelling before submitting them.
When answering the questions, adopt a positive attitude. Remember this is your opportunity to sell yourself and make the company want to meet you. Highlight your strengths and achievements which are relevant to the position that you’re applying for. Emphasise your positive commitment, offering evidence of the claims you make. If you are asked for referees remember to ask their permission before naming them on the form.
Keep a copy of the form to read before your interview and for reference the next time you fill in an application form.