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Application Forms | The Careers Service Application Forms – Oxford University Careers Service
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Completing application forms

Most graduate recruiters use online application forms, although many can offer paper versions of the form (on request). The key advice given below applies to both types of application form. In all cases, careful targeting is far more likely to lead to success than sending off numerous applications that are not tailored to each role and organisation. It’s very important to research the role, organisation and sector before completing the form, in order to demonstrate your suitability for the role. Allowing your motivation and interest to come through can make you stand out as a knowledgeable and attractive applicant.

Tips for online forms

  • You can type directly into most application forms – often they will have a specific word limit for each question
  • Draft anything you write in a Word document, as your online connection to the application form may “time-out” or close without giving you notification. This will allow you to copy and paste your answers into the form when you are satisfied. Writing your application in Word also means you have the advantage of using the spelling and grammar checks and can review what you have written at a later date, if you are invited to interview
  • Don’t submit the form until you are completely happy with it and the process that may follow. For example, you may be expected to complete an online test shortly after submitting the form
  • Avoid copying and pasting directly from applications in other webpages – some organisations have software to detect when this has been done
  • If you are asked to include a CV and/or Cover Letter in addition to answering the questions on the form – ensure that you do so

General points

  • Be accurate, and plan how to use the space and word count/character limit available
  • Check the form carefully, and ask someone else to review it
  • Recruiters often communicate by email. Ensure that your email address and other contact details are correct, and check your email account regularly!
Different parts of the form

Forms will typically have the following sections for you to fill in:

  • Personal details
  • Examination results
  • Employment and experience
  • Questions to answer
  • Referees – usually two referees are required. One is likely to be your academic tutor; the other might be a person you did relevant work experience with, or who knows you well personally.
  • “Recruitment monitoring – equality, diversity and medical information”  – this is not used for selection purposes (and is not always compulsory to complete) but to record statistical data on applicants eg: gender, ethnicity etc. Employers may also use the space to ask if the applicant has a disability and/or long term health condition they should be made aware of, so that they can make reasonable adjustments in the selection process, if required.

A note on ‘disclosing’ a disability and/or long term health condition

Legally, you don’t have to “disclose” (inform the employer beforehand) a disability on an application form (but failure to do so on a medical form, once you have accepted the job, could be considered a breach of contract). It’s very important to remember that employers are keen to ensure that all applicants are given an equal and fair opportunity to demonstrate their abilities. As such, the disclosure of a disability could give you access to reasonable adjustments for the application and interview process.

Reasonable adjustments can include (but are not limited to), extra time to complete online tests, extra-time between interviews, or support in getting to the interview. Employers are also able to make adjustments tailored to your specific needs – if you do disclose a disability, the firm will likely consult with you giving you the chance to discuss the adjustments that your require. If you think you may require adjustments to complete these, make sure that you understand all aspects (including timelines) of the application and recruitment process before submitting your application.

N.B Some employers require you to complete online exercises or tests shortly after you have submitted your application (typically within 5-7 days). Ideally contact employers either before submitting your application or immediately afterwards to let them know if you need any adjustments.  This will ensure that you are offered the requisite adjustments for the on-line tests/exercises, as once completed, most will not retroactively take your disability into consideration when assessing your performance.

It may also be worth reading employer websites to find out more about their equality and diversity policies and practice. This could help you to better understand how they support employees with disabilities and/or long term health conditions.

If you are unsure about how best to communicate with an employer about your disability, you can speak to one of our Careers Advisers, who can advise you on the most effective way to present your individual circumstances.

Analytical & competency based questions

Employers use these questions to find out whether you:

  • have the personal qualities, motivation and skills required;
  • understand yourself and are able to be self-reflective;
  • are able to identify where and why you and the job or organisation are a good match.

Some questions may be phrased to discover how you cope in a variety of situations. In all cases there are a few points to bear in mind when selecting the best answers and examples to use:

  • Employers are asking the question for a reason – try to work out what it is
  • Answer the question that has been asked, not the question you would like to be asked
  • Give specific examples and evidence – don’t generalise
  • Vary your use of examples from the different areas of your life (academia, extra-curricular activities, work experience etc.)  –  using your most recent relevant experiences and achievements wherever possible.
  • Keep within the word limit.

For more information on general graduate competencies see our information on developing your skills

Using the STAR technique could also help you structure your answers. There is further information about this technique on our how to show you fit the job criteria webpage

Our resources
This information was last updated on 12 September 2018.
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Recent blogs about Application Forms

Arts, Advertising & Media Fair 2018

Blogged by Corina Lacurezeanu on 18/10/2018.

 

  • When: Thursday 25 October, 14:00-17:30
  • Where: The Careers, Service, 56 Banbury Road

Full details are in the fair booklet – now available to download.

Meet creative professionals

  • Find opportunities in a wide range of creative sectors;
  • Meet creative professionals to learn about routes in and how to gain experience;
  • Speak with relevant student societies;
  • Bring your CV along to get feedback in our CV clinics. Appointments given on a first-come, first-served basis.

Attend our fair talks:

  • Researchers and/or alumni@ Arts, Advertising & Media Fair. Pre-fair talk: 13:30 – 14:30
  • Working in PR and Brand Consultancy, 14:45 – 15:15
  • Working in the Creative Industries, 15:30 – 16:00
  • Insight into Theatre with the Oxford Playhouse, 16:15 – 16:45

Meet recruiters:

  • Butterfly London
  • City, University of London
  • Darktrace
  • FTI Consulting
  • LEWIS Communications Ltd
  • Mountview
  • National Film and Television School
  • News Associates
  • Oxford Student Publications Ltd.
  • Palm PR & Digital
  • Portland Communications
  • Press Association
  • Procter & Gamble
  • Seven Hills
  • Sotheby’s Institute of Art
  • Tamarindo Communications
  • The Value Engineers

Week 3 and 4 Workshops for Researchers

Blogged by Rebecca Ehata on 18/10/2018.

CV and Cover Letter Skills Workshop: Last Few Places Remaining

Join us on , for an interactive workshop on CV and Cover Letter Skills for DPhils & Research Staff. Get tips on drafting effective applications, then apply them to your own CV and cover letter. Bring a printed copy of your CV and a sample cover letter with you. 22 October, 13:00 – 16:00 at the Careers Service.

Science Policy and Communications at the Science, Engineering and Technology Fair

Come along to this talk at the fair to hear from three people whose early careers span policy and communication roles in diverse private and public sector organisations. Bring your questions! 27 October, 12:15 – 13:00 at Exam School.

Insight into Academia: Should I do a Postdoc?

If you’re considering the pros and cons of embarking on postdoctoral research, this seminar is for you. Explore whether postdoctoral research is right for you, what its value might be both within and beyond academia, and how to plan to get the most out of a postdoc position. The seminar will propose strategies to help you think through this decision and understand both the conditions in which a postdoc could work well for you as well as viable, attractive, alternatives. 30 October, 13:00 – 14:00 at the Careers Service.

Book places for all events now via CareerConnect

For a head start at our careers fairs: Join our pre-fair meetings

Blogged by Rachel Bray on 18/10/2018.

Don’t miss your chance for 2018: This week hundreds of employers keen on your training and experience are coming to Oxford to understand what YOU seek, and discuss what they do.

To help you find the right people to speak to,and have insightful conversations, we now offer:

  • Fair booklets with a handy opening index flagging companies interested in recruiting and offering internships to PhD graduates and/or postdocs. Download the booklets via each specific fair within Michaelmas term here.
  • Pre-fair meetings on getting the most from the fair with our specialist Careers Advisers.

Places are limited – Use CareerConnect to book your spot now for:

Researchers & Alumni @ Careers in Computing; 12:00-13:00, Tuesday 23 October, The Maths Institute

Researchers & Alumni @ Arts, Advertising & Media Fair; 13:30-14:30, Thursday 25 October, The Careers Service

Researchers @ Science, Engineering and Technology Fair; 10:00-11:00, Saturday 27 October, Exam Schools

*Extra bonus* At the Science, Engineering and Technology Fair, we will start by hearing from an employee from an exhibiting company about why they like to recruit researchers, for what kind of roles, what doctoral graduates  find most interesting, and the work-place culture. Short Q&A to follow.

 

Insight into Medicine, Michaelmas Term 2018

Blogged by Claire Chesworth on 18/10/2018.

If you are thinking about a career in medicine then spending time shadowing a doctor is extremely important, not only to help you decide whether a medical career is right for you, but also to enhance your UCAS application to medical school. The Insight into Medicine programme will be running again in 9th week of Michaelmas Term and provides an opportunity to spend a day with a hospital consultant in Oxford (Monday 3 December or Tuesday 4 December). The programme is specially designed for those students who are finding it difficult to arrange medical work shadowing; any current matriculated student (undergraduate or postgraduate) of Oxford University is welcome to apply.

For further details, including how to apply, you need to log in to CareerConnect; search for ‘Insight Into Medicine’ in 9th week under ‘Careers Service Events’. Places are limited and the closing date is Friday 9 November.

CV and Cover Letter Skills Workshop: Last Few Places Remaining

Blogged by Rebecca Ehata on 18/10/2018.

Join us on Monday 22 October, 13:00 – 16:00, for an interactive workshop on CV and Cover Letter Skills for DPhils & Research Staff. Get tips on drafting effective applications, then apply them to your own CV and cover letter. Book a place now via CareerConnect; bring a printed copy of your CV and a sample cover letter with you.

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