Application forms

Many employers use application forms rather than asking for a CV and cover letter. Ensure you make the right impression and communicate your value in the written application process by following the advice below.

How we can help

Top Tips

  • Give it time: most application forms require a lot of work to tailor them to the job you are applying for, so allow plenty of time to answer the questions.
  • Match the criteria: do you have the right grades, experience, skills that the employer is looking for? Don’t spend time on an application form if you don’t meet this minimum criteria.
  • Use the space available: the employer will normally give you set space to complete the questions, either with a word count or a text box. Make sure you give them as much information about you as possible.
  • Give evidence of your suitability: employers will be looking for you to prove that you are the right candidate for the job. Make sure you give examples of where you have demonstrated the skills that they are looking for.
  • Have you answered the question? Employers will often give you clear guidelines on what you need to cover in your answer. Make sure you have answered the whole question.

Remember: Speak to the employer – find out what it is like to work for an organisation. What are the most important qualities they are looking for? If you don’t match the criteria but have really relevant experience or extenuating circumstances for your results, can you still apply? The more you know the more tailored you can make your application form.

Common question themes

Why have you applied to this organisation, industry or role?

Key to any application is that you can convince an employer that you really want to work for them in that role. The only way to do this is to research the industry, organisation and role thoroughly – do not just look at their own website, the research needs to encompass more than that! Our researching employers page has tips on how to do this effectively.

Skills, strengths and competencies

All employers know what qualities they are looking for. The application form will consist of questions that will help you demonstrate that you have those skills.

Remember to use STAR:

  • Situation - describe the situation briefly
  • Task - briefly explain what was required
  • Action - what action did you take?
  • Result - what was the outcome, what did you learn?

Interests and extracurricular activities

These questions are not only a good opportunity for you to demonstrate the relevant skills you have developed but also give an indication of you, as more than just a University of Bristol student. Employers are looking for “well rounded individuals” that work well across an organisation. Being involved in extra-curricular activity is normally a way of demonstrating this.

Remember: All applications must be proof-read for spelling and grammar mistakes. We are often “too close” to our own work to spot these mistakes so ask a friend or family member to help you with this.

Other Concerns

Disclosing disability

Remember - You’re under no obligation to disclose a disability. If you decide to disclose a disability when you apply you’ll probably want to consider how it’s presented. It’s often done in the covering letter, although most forms offer places to expand any explanation you may wish to offer. Please do come and discuss with us at the Careers Service about the best way to go about this.

Not getting the minimum degree result

Many graduate recruiters will require a minimum degree result, normally a 2:1 to apply for their graduate schemes. If you have not achieved this, do not worry, as there are many other organisations that do not have this stipulation. Some organisations are realising that this academic cut-off means they are missing out on some excellent candidates. If you are very interested in a company please do talk to them about your options and also come and speak with us at the Careers Service for advice on this.

Getting advice/having your application checked

Writing an application form can be daunting and a real challenge. It can be difficult to know how to judge it when you may have little experience of completing one, so make sure you come and get some advice from the Careers Service.

Can we help?

Application reviews - book online

CV/application reviews take place throughout the week. Log in to mycareer to find out when they're happening and to book.

You can book from 8am on the day and please bring a paper copy with you.