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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

FCO Graduate Internship: An Insider’s View

Blogged by Hugh Nicholson-Lailey on 21/02/2019.

Alice graduated from Oxford last summer and has provided us with an insider’s perspective on the FCO’s Graduate Internship which we blogged earlier this week and is now open for applications.

The scheme

The FCO graduate internship is a paid work experience scheme of up to 9 months which allows recent graduates to get taste for FCO work. What you will do on a day-to-day basis depends on which department you are allocated to – you could be working on a country desk, on a particular theme or in an operational role.

See the job advert [#1617790] and note that the deadline is midnight on 11 March.

Why I applied

I applied because of my interest in international affairs and desire to work in public service. This internship is a great way get an insight into the FCO/the civil service more generally without being tied down. For those interested in the Fast Stream, doing well at this internship gets you a ‘fast pass’ to the Fast Stream Assessment Centre, skipping the online tests that often cause people difficulty.

A day in the life

I have had some great opportunities so far. My day job involves conducting research, engaging with stakeholders within the FCO and in other government departments to make practical assessments about a varied and fascinating geographical area. I have taken on a lot of responsibility, writing policy submissions to ministers, working on FOI requests and running presentations to external stakeholders. My team are really friendly and keen for me to make the most of development opportunities – this is a work experience scheme after all! I have gained an insight into what working for the FCO overseas is like by visiting a British Embassy, been to see EU institutions in action and volunteered as a delegation liaison officer at an international conference. I have also had lots of formal training on diplomatic skills and am doing developmental Spanish language training.

My tips

The application/interview process has changed this year, and now focuses on success profiles and behaviours rather than competencies. You can find information on these in the job advert. The most import thing is to really tailor your examples to the question asked. If you make it on to the internship, be proactive – think about what you would like to get out of the internship and take the opportunity to meet as many people and take on as many tasks as possible.

Unmissable for Chinese students – the Warwick China Fair!

Blogged by Karen Walker on 21/02/2019.

Are you ready for the Warwick China Fair?

Taking place on Saturday 2 March between 10:00-15:00, the Warwick China Fair is mainly targeted at Chinese final year and postgraduate students and recent graduates (although all Chinese students at Oxford University are welcome to attend!). We are excited to announce that the Career Fair App is now available, as well as a webinar to help you plan your day!

The Career Fair App is available on both Android and iPhone – for more information about how to download and use it please have a look at our information page. It includes a list of all the employers attending, plus other information that they’ve supplied. Over the next week, more information will be added to the App, including info about the presentations and events taking place.

You can also watch the webinar Preparing for the China Fair 2019 kindly delivered by colleagues at the University of Manchester.

In addition to a careers fair, the event includes a panel presentation about the current Chinese job market from senior Chinese HR professionals, a session on visas, plus a series of employer presentations giving you the chance to meet and network with employers.

Employers in attendance will include:

CPA Australia, KPMG, Geely, Dyson, China Unicom, 51 Job, Mthree Consulting, Mars, AlphaSights, Hays Asia, British Council China,  Nu Skin, Hisense,  Decathlon, Xinlung Group, Tong Digital, Entrepreneurs Global, Gradlink, Dealmoon, XRS Online (TAL Group), FDM Group, AstraZeneca, Merck Group, Ambright Group, Lockin China, Zhaopin, Career Mentor, Hilti, EREC Estates, HungryPanda Ltd, Farleys Solicitors LLP and three senior HR Directors flying in from China and accompanying the British Council China.

Oxford only has a limited number of spaces for students at this fair – so make sure you sign up soon!

The Fair is organised by Warwick in partnership with the Universities of Oxford, Birmingham, Bristol, Aston and Nottingham.

UK Summer Internship Applications Now Open!

Blogged by Internship Office on 21/02/2019.

Apply for a UK summer internship by 11 March

You can now browse and apply for a wide range of exciting UK summer internships offered through the Summer Internship Programme. All opportunities are open exclusively to Oxford students, and can be applied to through CareerConnect.

UK placements feature a research and communications opportunity at the Royal Society for Tropical Medicine in London, a heritage internship in Scotland, and sustainability consultancy in Oxford. The deadline for applications for this batch of placements is Monday 11 March.

The Internship Office is offering application support sessions for prospective applicants to discuss internship ideas, and get advice on CVs and applications. These sessions take place at The Careers Service and can be booked through CareerConnect.

Please see our comprehensive application support guide for other ways to get support when applying to Internship Office Programmes. If you have any further questions, contact us on internships@careers.ox.ac.uk.

ICSA Essay Competition 2019

Posted on behalf of ICSA . Blogged by Juliet Tomlinson on 20/02/2019.

ICSA Tom Morrison Essay Prize competition 2019

Want to be awarded for your original thinking? Fancy a chance of winning £1,000 (or £500 as a runner-up)? If so, make sure you enter this essay-writing competition which runs until 18 March 2019. The question is as follows:

In an increasingly automated world, robotics, artificial intelligence and other technological advancements are expected to have an impact on governance. Consider the opportunities, challenges, benefits and risks that such technologies might bring to the role of the company secretary.

Visit the ICSA website to find out more about the competition.

Insights into the world of governance with ICSA

Posted on behalf of ICSA. Blogged by Juliet Tomlinson on 20/02/2019.

Have you ever considered the roles of company secretary or governance manager?

These fascinating roles can lead you to a career in a huge variety of different organisations and businesses.  There are plenty of opportunities to discover more about these careers throughout 2019 through the activites of the Governance Institute – ICSA.

Insight Days: The governance teams from some big brands will be hosting them in 2019.

Or you might like to consider attending an Open Evening with ICSA to discover more. You can join them in London on Wednesday 8 May to find out what opportunities a career as a company secretary or governance professional can offer.

The event takes place at ICSA: The Governance Institute, Saffron House, 6-10 Kirby Street, London, EC1N 8TS. Doors open at 18:00 for a 18:30 presentation, refreshments are served 19:30 – 20:30pm. Places are limited so register now to discover how to get your governance career started with ICSA. Book your free place here.

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