If you have to fill out an application form, please pay attention to
- The main purpose of your form
- The rules
- The style
Your main purpose in writing your form is to get shortlisted for an interview. That’s it. It’s not really about selling yourself.
So, look carefully at the person specification, as the marking system comes directly from there. With some application forms, particularly for ST applications, there is often some really helpful guidance given to tell you where the marks are and how many marks there are for each section.
Work out from this information, what they want and make sure you given them what they are looking for. That way, they can give you more marks.
If they ask for evidence of your CPD – list the courses you have been on, conferences that you have attended and talks that you have given. Don’t spend your words telling them that you understand the importance of CPD and convincing them that you are committed to lifelong learning – it won’t give you any marks.
You have to get as many marks as you can, in order to make the cut for an interview invitation.
Always stick to the word count. With the automated ways in which they can handle and process your electronic applications, they can and will reject applications that have sections with more words than are allowed.
Make sure your spellings are correct – use the spell check facility in your word processor. It gives a sloppy appearance if you don’t care about how this document looks.
Make sure your grammar is correct. Don’t put too many capital letters in and make sure you know where your apostrophies should go.
Keep your answers specific and personal. I can’t stress this heavily enough. Deliver your answers in the first person, singular. Don’t be vague in your information and arguments. Use numbers and stories to make your answers more specific.
Use the STAR formula whenever you see a competency based question. A competency based question is a question that asks you to tell them a story about how you have behaved in the past
S – Situation – briefly outline the story that you want to talk about. Be brief. There are not many markes here
T – Task – detail your goal, so that you can demonstrate your ability to analyse a situation and focus on the key tasks that you needed to complete
A – Actions – this is where you can sell your skills. Remember to talk about what you did, how you did it and why you did it what you did. This section should form the bulk ofyour answer
R – Result – briefly talk about what happened in the end, to complete the story
If you do write your application using a word processor, like Microsoft Word, then whilst that is a good idea as you can use the spell check and word count functions, do not copy and past from word into your application form. Microsoft Word places a lot of style data into your document on the back end and this can sometimes conflict with the system that processes your application form. So, always copy from Word and paste into a text editor, such as notepad (you will have it installed on your computer). Then organise how the words look in notepad and copy the section from there and paste that into your application form.