female working in front of laptop

Application forms

Some employers prefer application forms to CVs, especially if they're recruiting lots of staff at one time. We're here to help guide you through filling out an application form with confidence. 

What is an application form

Job application forms are official forms where an employer asks candidates to fill out when they’re applying for a job.  

Application forms tell you exactly what the employer wants to know. This can make it easier to match your skills to the job with specific questions to answer. 

It may feel repetitive and time-consuming filling in lots of job applications. But we’ve got some tips and example questions to help you get through it. 

Resources to help you prepare an application

A little preparation helps making filling in your job application easer.

Before you start an application

  1. Make sure you understand what the employer does and how you could fit in.
  2. Have a list of your skills, strength and experience written out. 
  3. Read the instructions of the application carefully and identify which sections you need to fill in.
  4. In a separate word document, write out some dummy answers and edit before you add into the form. 
  5. Pick out your skills and qualities that you can match to the application questions and think about what examples you could give. 

Filling out an application form

Filling out an application form online

Digital applications are becoming increasingly popular, but they come with their own set of issues. Learn how to tackle them with these tips. 

Check if there’s a time-out

Often, online applications will log you out automatically if you do not do something for a while. This means you’ll lose the work you’ve been doing, so make sure you save regularly.

Copy the questions into a Word document

Write out your answers offline, then copy and paste them in. You can edit them as much as you like. Plus, you’ll have a saved version to refer to if you get asked to an interview.

Understand the buttons

It sounds simple, but you do not want to accidentally submit a half-finished application.


Go back through the form once you've finished and make sure you've answered everything you need to. Ask a parent or a friend to proofread your answers for you. 

Make it easier next time

Save a copy of your application form – or the text from it, if it’s online. This means the next time you have to fill one in, you have some answers ready to tweak for the next job.

Answering competency-based questions

Competency-based questions aim to find out how you have used specific skills in your previous experience and how you approach problems, tasks and challenges. These questions require detail and thought, so it's best to give yourself plenty of time to answer them. 

Example competency-based question

'Describe a time when you worked in a team'. 

The employer wants to find out whether you have the right skills for the job, so you'll need to use an example. Experiences you could use:

  • work
  • study
  • volunteering
  • work experience 
  • hobbies

Answering a competency-based question

To answer, use the STAR technique:

  • describe a Situation
  • the Tasks you needed to do
  • the Actions you took 
  • the Results you achieved

Employers want to know that you can get along with others in a team. Show that you make an effort to pull your weight and you communicate well. 

Here's an example answer:

Situation: In my part-time job, we had 3 days to complete our annual stock check.

Task: We had to count every item of stock accurately, ensuring we stayed on schedule. I was in charge and worked with 2 colleagues in my department. 

Action: I assigned different sections of the stock to each person, along with a target time. Some sections went more quickly so we recognised our time to help each other out.

Result: By working together and being flexible, we completed the whole task on time. In fact we were the first department to finish. 

Answering tricky questions

Lots of sections of an application form will be simple questions such as filling out your name or address. 

More in-depth questions can be a bit harder. However, they're your chance to show the employer why you'd be great at the job. 

Example questions

'What key skills and qualities do you have that would be relevant to this job?' 

This is where your preparation comes in. Compare the skills you have to the ones mentioned on the job description. The skills section in your account can help you identify some of your skills. Try not to simply list them. Instead, give examples of times you've used those skills. Depending on how much space you have, provide a bit of detail.

'Why do you want to work for this company?'

Your research is important here. It’s a chance to talk about the employer, the role and what it is that excites you about it. If you're interested in gaining new experience or work in an area you're fascinated by - let them know. 

'Provide a statement in support of your application'

This section is often the longest section of an application form. It’s where you can pick out some of the most relevant parts from the information you’ve already entered. Provide more examples of how you fit into the job description.

Don not just repeat what you’ve said above. Instead, go into more detail about things which link to the job description.

If you’re not sure what to include, try the strengths quiz in your account. It will help you think about what you’re best at.