Application forms

Application forms are used for Graduate Employment Programs and large organisations for general recruitment.

An application form will usually have the following sections:

  • Education, results and experience details
  • Open-ended questions relating to your interest in the position, career plans, skills, strengths, achievements and extra-curricular activities
  • Questions requiring you to demonstrate your understanding of the values of the organisation or industry
  • Behavioural questions which ask you to provide an example of a time when you demonstrated a particular skill or competency

Preparing your application form

Where word counts apply, give a response of appropriate length and depth (e.g. a 50 word response is not suitable for a 250 word question). Put time and effort into the online questions as they are usually central to the application.

Behavioural questions

Behavioural questions ask you to describe a time or situation where you demonstrated a certain skill or ability.

Examples:

  • Describe a time when you have worked as part of a successful team. What do you think contributed to your team's overall success? What role did you play and what did you learn about yourself along the way?
  • In 200 words or less, describe a time when you had to cope with changing circumstances. What was the nature, pace and impact of the change. What did you do to cope with the change? Where possible, draw from your work experience.

For behavioural questions, use the below STAR model to structure your response.

The STAR model

The STAR model is a useful framework you can use to answer behavioural questions in written applications or in interviews.

Situation Describe a situation or environment you have experienced that relates to the question being asked. Include context such as where, when and who.
Task Identify the task or challenge in the situation that required a resolution.
Action What did you do to get the task done? Focus on the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’.
Result What was the outcome? What happened? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Think about relationship outcomes as well as task outcomes.

When using the STAR model it is important to remember the following tips when constructing your response:

  • Use real-life examples to explain how you have actually demonstrated the skills. The employer wants to know what you have done in the past, not what you think you would do in the future
  • Keep the responses recent and relevant. Ideally use examples within past one or two years
  • If you are answering a number of behavioural questions, try to use a range of examples
  • While the story itself is important, it is critical to show you understand the processes involved so the employer knows that you can perform in similar situations in their workplace.

General questions

Use examples where appropriate (for example, If you're asked about your strengths, give an example of an activity where you demonstrated that strength). Examples used for general questions should be shorter than in a behavioural question.

Demonstrate your knowledge of the organisation throughout. Some questions offer particularly appropriate opportunities to demonstrate this (e.g. questions about why you are applying).

Providing examples showing how your values align with an organisation’s values is also a good idea. In particular, detailing an example when you have demonstrated these particular values.

Common question topics

  • Why are you applying?

    There are no right or wrong answers to this question, but some factors you might refer to include career plans, characteristics of the organisation itself (reputation, size, clients), the role or program itself, opportunities in the organisation, or the opportunity to use your skills.

    Don't spend too much time on 'selling yourself' in this question, as there will be other questions where you have the opportunity to do this.

  • What will you bring to the role or organisation?

    This is a critical question as it goes to the heart of the matter: why should you be given this opportunity? In this case, you might refer to particular skills, academic results, capability, motivation, relevant experience or 'fit' with the organisation. Focus on two or three key points in some detail, rather than everything you can think of. In particular, keep in mind the attributes that are that are the most relevant to the role or organisation. Again, there are no right or wrong answers – be authentic, and keep your answers relevant.

  • Career plans

    You are not expected to lay out a highly defined career plan, but your response should give some specifics. Talk about the industry you want to work in and the type of role you are interested in. Your comments should show how the position or program is relevant to your career plans. It can be appropriate to say that you are still exploring your options, but you should at least refer to some ideas to show that you're thinking about this issue.

  • Organisation or industry knowledge

    Employers expect a good level of knowledge about their organisation and industry. It is quite common to be asked about your knowledge directly (for example, "What do you see as the main challenges facing our sector over the next few years?"). Your response needs to show evidence of research and real understanding.

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