It should tell the employer that you can do the job outlined in the job description, that you are passionate about the role, and that you fit with the organisation’s culture and values.
Some applications will be submitted via email and others will be submitted via an online portal.
Top Tip: Keep a copy of key content on a word document for future use. Some of the details that you complete on an online application might be useful for other applications.
Important things to consider:
Here are some of the sections that you may find on an application form. Have a read through so that you know what to expect.
An employer should read your application and be able to quickly identify that you meet the requirements of the role and are an ideal candidate.
Ensure that you showcase your most relevant experiences and always provide specific examples.
Competency based questions – Demonstrate and evidence how you meet a specific skill requirement or attribute. These questions usually ask you to describe or give an example of a specific time that you carried out a task or used a skill.
Example: Describe a situation when you delivered excellent customer service following a complaint
How to answer competency based questions
The most effective way of structuring your answers is through the STAR format. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result and can be framed as follows:
Example answer using STAR:
During my summer internship in 2019, I was responsible for managing the organisation’s customer relations, which included handling customer queries and complaints.
On one occasion, a customer contacted our service centre because the organisation hadn’t responded to an email she had sent. As I was dealing with this customer by phone, quick thinking and a personable telephone manner were essential.
I discussed the situation with the customer and explained that we had a company policy of answering all email communications within a 48 hour period. I was able to resolve her initial query, so that at the end of the call she felt satisfied that all her concerns had been addressed.
As a result, the client not only continued to order from us, but also added positive customer service feedback to our website.
A person specification is a breakdown of skills and qualities needed to carry out the job effectively. Most person specifications are advertised alongside the job description.
These often include both ‘Essential’ and ‘Desirable’ criteria. It is not necessary to meet ‘desirable’ criteria for a role, but if you do meet these criteria, then you should make reference to this somewhere on your application, as employers will often shortlist on ‘desirable’ criteria if the standard of applications is high.
‘Blank Page’ Person specification
Some employers may ask you to write a short paragraph to show you meet the person specification, demonstrating your suitability for the role. This is a ‘blank page’ and we would suggest that you work your way through the criteria in a structured way, following the order they use. You may choose to use the same example to cover several criteria – this will avoid the application getting too long. Remember to use the STAR format to structure your answers.
Example Answer (using STAR)
One of the essential criteria mentioned in the person specification is: ’An ability to communicate information which requires careful explanation’.
During my placement year, I was set a task of designing and delivering a presentation to clients regarding the impact of technology within modern society. I thought carefully about my audience and the points I wanted to make. As some of my audience were not familiar with the subject I was presenting, I decided to incorporate images, charts and graphs to convey information in a way which was engaging and easy to understand. Following the presentation, I answered a number of questions, checking that my answers were sufficient and that the audience fully understood, as well as supplying handouts. I received positive feedback from my line manager and my confidence grew in delivering presentations.
Students often leave this section blank thinking they have covered everything. Don’t! Employers want to hear more about you here and expect you to complete this section. Mention any courses, training or CPD (Continuous Professional Development) you have completed, any sector related events or guest lectures you have attended or perhaps any sports, music and other extracurricular activities. Remind them why you are ideally suited to this role.
You should select 2 people who can vouch for what you are like as a person or as an employee. Students and recent graduates often use a personal tutor or other academic member of staff as one of their referees. You may wish use your current employer or someone from a previous job for the other one. It is good practice to ask permission from the person you plan to use as your referee, so that they can expect someone to contact them should you be successful. Employers will not normally contact your referees until very late in the recruitment process and just before they hire you.
This is intended to ensure that recruitment procedures do not discriminate. These forms go to the human resource/personnel departments and do not play a part in the selection procedure.
If you decide to complete this question, it may be a good idea to include a more detailed explanation of any requirements and/or ‘reasonable adjustments’ in the covering letter. If you would like to discuss disclosing a disability with a specialist careers consultant, please book an appointment with Marina Matosic by calling us on 0161 247 3483.
This is a standard question on many application forms. If you are unsure how to disclose any cautions, reprimands or unspent convictions, you could try attaching a covering letter to explain the circumstances. For further advice before completing this section, have a look at the information available on the following sites:
We offer range of support services to Manchester Met students and graduates:
The online careers centre you can access 24/7 to view career resources, advice and tips, career quizzes and information tailored to your sector.
Get online advice through My Career Hub, ask your question at any time and receive support via email.
Book an appointment with one of our Careers Advisors through My Career Hub or call 0161 247 3483.