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The University of Southampton
Careers, Employability and Student Enterprise

Application Form Advice

Application form


Employers tell us that many applications are rejected due to avoidable mistakes: eg incorrect spelling or grammar, wrong company name, questions not fully answered. Read this section to make sure that your application is viewed favourably.



Top tips for a successful application


For further resources including books and e-books, as well as free publications available to you, see our Careers Resources and e-books pages.  Additional information is also available in our How to write a Personal Statement and Top Tips for Effective Applications documents.

Additionally, we have created an online version of our Discover...Applications workshop below which will help you to understand the purpose of an application form as well as highlighting common questions which may be asked.

Discover...Applications front page

Video support (10 minutes approx.)

Our Discover...Applications workshop below will help you understand the purpose of an application form and highlight any common questions.

View it here

Competency based:

  • Give an example of when you have worked on a team project. What was the outcome and what was your role in the team?
  • Give an example of communicating complex or difficult information to individuals or groups.
  • Give an example of your ability to work to deadlines and how you cope with work pressure.
  • Give an example of where others have disagreed with your views. How did you deal with this?
  • Describe how your personal planning and organisation resulted in the successful achievement of a personal or group task.

Motivation approach:

  • Why do you wish to apply for this role?
  • What interests you about the field of...?


  • Outline how your skills and experience would be suited to the role of...
  • Why do you think you would be suitable for this role?

Different or unusual questions:

  • What do you love about the Caribbean? (Turtle Bay, restaurant staff)
  • What makes you happy?

There are a number of methods to help you structure your answers.

1. STAR: Situation; Task, Action, Result (and reflection)

  • Briefly describe the context (S) and your task or objective (T) to set the scene
  • Focus most of your answer on the actions you took to deal with the task
  • Conclude with the outcomes (R), where possible use hard facts, but don't neglect your own learning from the experience where relevant

2. SAKE: Skills, Aptitude, Knowledge, Experience

  • This is useful for supporting statements and your overall approach to the application form
  • Are you making full use of all these aspects? What do you have to offer which is particularly relevant?
Ask the Adviser

Need further help?

Speak to our advisers in one of our 10 minute Ask the Adviser appointmentss to run through interview questions or for more general advice.

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