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Understanding application forms Job application forms

Job application forms can take longer to complete than CVs (curriculum vitae) or cover letters so make sure you set aside enough time to prepare for them. Many of these forms are quite standardised and used by employers to request baseline information. Ultimately this is your chance to showcase your skillset and achievements and to highlight why you're the best candidate for the job.

Key sections of an application form

Many employers ask for similar information and have pre-set sections. Here are sections you may encounter:

  • personal details - your name, contact details and address
  • employment history – previous and current
  • education and qualifications – includes secondary education, your degree and professional training courses attended
  • a blank space to address your suitability for the position, usually addressing the person specification
  • references.

Other sections you may come across:

Telling an employer about your disability

You may be wondering if you should tell an employer about your disability in the application process. It would be your choice whether or not you do but have a look at our advice about explaining a disability when applying for jobs.

Questions in an application form

Employers may ask different types of question in an application form. Preparation is key so ensure you give yourself enough time to prepare well thought out and relevant answers that align to the company and job role you're applying for. Remember employers use application forms to assess your suitability to ultimately decide if they would like to invite you for an interview. See our understanding job application form questions page to help better prepare.

Addressing the person specification

Application forms often include a section asking for 'further information in support of your application' or ‘please provide details and evidence of how you meet the person specification’. The key questions to answer here are, 'Why are you applying?' and 'What makes you a suitable candidate based on the essential and desirable requirements?'

Make sure you address:

  • How you meet the person specification discussing the skills, achievements, personal qualities and experience you have that match the specification.
  • Why you want the job.
  • Why you want to work for that employer.

Sometimes there can be a word limit to this section so check individual forms for any guidelines. If you’re limited by word counts aim to address the ‘essential’ criteria over ‘desirable’ criteria and remember to use specific examples to demonstrate how you meet the points on the person specification.

Keep a copy of your application so that you can easily review what you’ve written if you’re invited to interview. It may also help you in making future applications.

You may want to have a look at the presenting your skills article which advises further on how to evidence your skills and achievements.

I deeply believe that if individuals can identify real areas of exceptional talent and strength and communicate those clearly, that is much more compelling as a candidate than everybody trying to demonstrate every single skill.

Rebecca Fielding, Owner and Managing Director, Gradconsult

Last updated 5 months ago