SOAS University of London

Careers Service

Application forms

Application forms enable you to articulate your strengths, skills, attributes and experiences in relation to the job you are applying for. Their format allows the employer to quickly judge how suitable you are to the job role.

It is important to invest time when filling in a form. Hastily prepared and poorly presented application forms are easily spotted by the employer and set aside.

Top tips for filling in an application form

  • Read the form through thoroughly and pay attention to any specific instructions. If they ask you to write in block capitals or use black ink, do so.
  • Write down your draft answers on a separate sheet of paper or an additional photocopied application form first. Once you are happy with your answers, copy them to the actually application form.
  • Tailor your answers so that they relate to what you have discovered about the job and the kind of person the employer is looking for.
  • View the questions from the employer’s perspective. Why are they asking such questions and what do they want to find out about you?
  • If a question is not applicable, say so. Do not leave empty boxes.
  • Use positive and specific words to describe your skills and experience; avoid clichés and vague language.
  • Make your answers and/or personal statement persuasive. Construct a rationale for your application and show how you would fulfill the criteria that the employer is looking for.
  • Always support your answers with evidence. You can draw examples from your time at university, full-time or part-time work, internships, work experience and volunteering experience.
  • Use different examples for different questions.
  • Create a distinctive impression. If the employer has received a lot of good applications, you must make yours stand out from the crowd. You can make your application distinctive by having especially relevant experience; a record of outstanding or unusual achievement; strength of argument; an attractive and effective style; and/or precision and overall effect.
  • Check for spelling and grammatical mistakes.
  • Stick to word limits.
  • If you have to write the form by hand, make sure it’s legible.
  • Always keep a copy of your form so that you can refer to it later.
  • Keep an eye on the closing date – preferably, do not leave sending your application to the last minute.

Online application forms

  • Just because an application form is online, it does not mean that you can ignore preparation - the information above still applies!
  • Do not be tempted to use e-mail speak. Spelling and grammatical errors will reflect badly on you.
  • Make sure you are happy with the whole form before pressing the ‘submit’ button.
  • You can practice filling in application forms on Select Simulator

Need more help filling in an application form? Pick up a free copy of the ‘How to complete an application form’ booklet at the Careers Service or see a more detailed version of this page on The Careers Group website. You could also try our E-Learning quiz on Application Forms: Impress and stand out from the crowd