How to complete an application form

How to answer common application form questions


Many employers will ask you to complete an online application form instead of, or in addition to, providing a CV. They are used to ensure a systematic way of comparing candidates. Two of the most common types of questions are outlined here. 

Competency questions 

For this type of question, you need to provide evidence of a particular skill and where you have put it into practice.  Employers expect you to present this using the STAR (Situation Task Action Result) framework. Use the proportions suggested below to ensure the majority of your answer is on what you did and what the outcome was. 

  • Situation (10%) – briefly clarify the situation, and provide context for your example. 

  • Task (15%) – what was the objective or challenge being addressed? 

  • Action (50%) - be clear about what you did to meet the objective or overcome the challenge.   

  • Result (25%) - reflect on the impact of your actions.  Did you meet the objective? Quantify your result where possible (for example, percentage increase. in sales or attendance at an event you organised).  Can you express the result in more qualitative terms such as increased confidence in a group of tutees? 

Open questions 

These are more general questions that invite you to provide a longer answer; examples include “describe your reasons for wanting this position giving relevance of previous education and experience” and “please provide any other information you feel is relevant to your application”.  You might have a word limit, or unlimited word count.  Either way, keep your answer concise, relevant and backed up with examples.  Avoid writing in a very academic style but keep the tone professional. 


  • Use headings and/or paragraphs to break up sections.

  • Cover the most relevant and important information first and create a logical flow between sections/paragraphs.

  • Finish with a summary sentence or paragraph which sums up your enthusiasm and suitability for the job.


The employer might tell you what they expect you to cover but if not: 

  • Why are you interested in this job and organisation? Demonstrate the research you have done into the organisation and your understanding of and enthusiasm for the job. 

  • What experience do you bring?  Start with your most relevant and recent experience. 

  • What skills do you have that are key to this job?  Use the person specification as a guide on the skills you should evidence. 

Top Tips: Job applications (Media Hopper)

More examples of questions and answers (Prospects)   

Other tips on approaching application forms (TARGETjobs)