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Effective Application Forms

Watch short videos from Ibec, ESB, KPMG, Musgrave, Citi, Glanbia, Engineers Ireland, PwC & KPMG with advice on how to complete graduate application forms and use STAR stories to answer competency questions effectively.

Video 1: Completing Graduate Application Forms Advice from KPMG, IBEC Global Graduates, Glanbia, Aryzta, Accenture - 2.03 minutes

Video 2: Competency Interviews explained ESB, KPMG, Musgrave, Citi, Glanbia, Engineers Ireland - 2.56 minutes

Video 3: Competency Based InterviewsPWC, KPMG - 1.27 minutes

Completing an application form is not simply a matter of presenting the company with information about yourself. You need to use the application form to persuade the recruiter to call you for interview. 

To give you an insight into the type of questions typically asked on application forms download our handout on typical Application Form Questions

Questions about your choice of company

Why do you want to work for X, Y, Z?

The recruiter wants to be convinced that you have researched their organisation and have thought about why you want to work for them. This is your chance to provide a good quality answer with interesting, well considered reasons.

Avoid shallow and obvious answers (large company with a good reputation) and use this space to demonstrate you have a clear understanding of what the employer does and why you are attracted to it.

To answer the question thoroughly read through a selection of the following: the company's graduate recruitment brochure, website, video testimonials, social media presence, annual reports, press releases, news articles, jobbio or gradireland profiles etc.

Identify what attracts you to the company in terms of:

  • their products or services
  • market position
  • client portfolio
  • ethos/goals/ values
  • their commitment to staff development
  • quality and comprehensiveness of the training offered
  • awards won
  • the prospects and opportunities offered e.g. early responsibility, overseas placements and exposure across the business
  • The people you have met at careers fairs/on campus presentations

The reasons that you give need to show that you have thoroughly researched the organisation and that you have properly considered whether the job and organisation are right for you

Career Choice Questions

‘What attracts you to a career as a …?’

  • Show you have a full understanding of the role you are applying for and that you have considered whether the job will match your skills and aspirations.
  • Show that you know what the job involves and can express why you are suitable for it.
  • Refer to specific aspects of the job which appeal to you not “accountancy has always interested me”.
  • Have you work experience in the area?
  • Have you sought advice from others working in a similar role?
  • Explain what you would bring to the role (e.g. why you will be good at the tasks involved by highlighting any relevant experience and skills you possess)
  • Explain how the career prospects interest you.
  • Within the answer of why you are attracted to this career you must also get across why you consider yourself to be a strong candidate.

Questions about you: skills, strengths and competencies

There are a number of core skills that most employers look for and question within application forms. These include communication, teamwork, problem solving, planning and decision-making.

To choose the best examples of when you have demonstrated these skills reflect on all your achievements within the various aspects of your life including:

  • college
  • work experience (full-time or part time work, internships,  volunteering)
  • hobbies and interests
  • sports
  • travel

Using STAR stories to answer the questions about your competencies and skills. Download our guide to using STAR technique to answer questions.

Commercial awareness questions

Employers often ask candidates to demonstrate their commercial awareness within application forms.  They are looking for you to have an understanding of the sectors you are applying to, an awareness commercial context in which their business operates, an awareness of their rivals, their financial performance and products. It is also about the wider issues they face such as market trends or upcoming legislation.

They may ask you about their competitors or to provide some insight on the challenges currently faced by the company or industry.

Developing your commercial awareness is not about reading the Business Press from front to back every day. It is about having a broad awareness of current issues, and a more in depth knowledge in the sectors you are applying to.

There is no quick fix and you won’t be able to develop commercial awareness as a competency the night before an interview. Things that will help you will include following industry news, setting up email alerts on specific search terms, subscribing to journals and industry magazines, following relevant twitter feeds. 


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