Filling in an application form

Follow our guide for advice on how to answer questions in a job application form.

Before you start

Most job application forms are now online. If you do not have access to the internet, ask at your local library about booking a slot to use a computer.

Gather together all the details you’ll need to fill in the application form, for example:

  • your qualifications
  • your work history
  • references

To start planning what you’re going to add to your form:

  • read the instructions on the application form
  • read the job description and understand what the employer wants
  • research the employer to find out who they are and what they do

Personal details

You'll usually need to include your:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • address
  • phone number - give a number you'll be available on during the day
  • email address

Depending on the job, you may also need to give your:

Education history

The employer may ask you to list your education history with the most recent first, including:

  • your qualifications
  • the name of the organisations you studied with
  • other training courses you have completed
  • the dates you attended

Check what the employer asks for and follow their instructions.

Work history

Add your employment history here, starting with the most recent. You can include work experience and volunteering activities. You should aim to cover the last 10 years, or more, depending on how much relevant experience you have.

You will need to include:

  • the name of the organisation you worked for
  • what role you had
  • when you started the job
  • when you left the job

The application form may also ask what your main tasks were. You should prepare 3 to 5 bullet points to describe what you did in each job role.

Explain work history gaps

When you have a gap in your work history you should give a brief explanation and say what you did during that time. You can also add more detail in your cover letter.

Show your skills match the job

The employer may ask you what makes you the right person for the job.

Make sure that what you write matches the person specification or job description. Concentrate on telling them about the skills you have that they need.

Competency-based questions

Some online applications are more competency-based. The form will ask you to give examples that show you have the skills for the job.

For example, it could ask you to:

  • describe a time you have been under pressure at work
  • explain a situation where you've worked in a team

As long as you highlight skills relevant to the job, you can use examples from:

  • the workplace
  • home
  • social activities
  • volunteering

Use the STAR method to help structure your examples and show how you added value in previous roles.

References

You'll usually need a work-related reference and a personal one. Make sure you check with people first that they’re happy to provide one.

You should include the person's:

  • name and job title
  • relationship to you
  • contact details

You may not have any work experience, or may not want to use your last employer. You can ask other people to give a reference, such as:

  • an older employer
  • a teacher or college tutor who knows you well
  • a team leader from a volunteering group, a society or sports team
  • someone respected in your community

Before you submit your application

Read through your answers and check the spelling and grammar.

Save a copy so you can use it for future job applications, and in case you're asked about it at the interview.

Related content

How to write a CV

How to write a cover letter

Interview tips

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