Job application forms determine whether or not you will make it to the interview stage of the recruitment process, so it is vital that you prepare and put in the effort, in order to get it right.  There is no point in sending out a poor quality application form.  Your application form will be scrutinised and will be compared with others.

Application Form Structure

Most application forms consist of the following sections:

  • Personal Details: this is the most straight forward section and will require you to fill in your personal details including name, address, telephone number, email address etc. 
  • Education: you will probably be asked to provide details of all the schools, colleges and universities that you have attended, listing the subjects studied and the grades acquired.  It is important that you meet or exceed the qualifications required, as some employers will not even consider your application for the next stage if you fall short of the minimum academic requirement.
  • Employment history: you will be asked to give details of all your employment history including paid and unpaid experience, usually starting with the most recent first.  If you have had a variety of roles, you should try and choose the most relevant for the job you are applying for.  It is important to account for all periods in your life, including any gap years, or periods of time dedicated to travel; do not leave dates unaccounted for.  Try to show that your gap year was a valuable experience where you gained skills and knowledge.
  • Reasons for applying: this is probably one of the most important sections of your application form.  This is where you get to show the employer why they should interview you.  In this section you need to be able to convey:
    • the skills and competencies you have for the role
    • why you are interested in the position
    • why you would be a good 'fit' for the organisation
    • convey your understanding and knowledge of the organisation
  • References: most applications ask for two referees.  It is always a good idea to use a referee who can comment on your work experience, and also an academic referee from college or university.  You should always ask the person concerned before putting their name down on the form.  You should also avoid asking friends and relatives to provide a reference.

It is vital that you complete all relevant sections of the application form, paying particular attention to grammar, spelling and neatness.  It may be a good idea to get someone else to read it for you, prior to sending it off.

Never lie on your application form.  If you get to the interview stage you may be found out; any sign of dishonesty will not be tolerated.

Keep a copy of your form so you can prepare for your interview if you are successful.

Most of all, prepare!

STAR Technique   Star

The STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) format is a technique that can be used by candidates when answering questions on a job application form or at a job interview.  It can be used as a way to structure your examples/feedback as follows:

  • Situation: what was the situation and when did it take place?
  • Task: what did you do and what was the objective?
  • Action: what action did you take to achieve this?
  • Result: what happened as a result of your action?


 Application Form Information and Resources

For further help with application forms please check out the following tools and resources:

  1. Read the Careers Service guide: Application Forms
  2. Visit the Prospects site for further advice and support on writing application forms.
  3. Visit the Select Simulator to prepare for online applications. 
  4. See out tips for Expanding your Personal Skills
  5. Visit if you are applying  in the Higher Education Sector 
  6. Application advice from TARGET jobs
  7. Guardian article - How to get your application shortlisted?

The Careers Service can help you to develop and complete your job application forms.  You can make an appointment with a Careers Adviser or call in to one of our drop-in sessions.