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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 available
  • Keep to the word or character limit
  • 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 mail 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 Oxford 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, which is not used for selection purposes; although they may use the space to ask if you require any reasonable adjustments for interview if you disclose a disability.

A note on ‘disclosing’ a disability

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 looking for employers who have been awarded “two ticks”  –  for making a commitment to employ, keep and develop the abilities of disabled staff. One of the (five) commitments for firms with the “two ticks” accreditation includes interviewing all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for a job vacancy and to consider them on their abilities.

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.
Example answers

Please note that the answers below are generic and are for guidance purposes only. It’s very important to remember that whenever answering a question, try to be as specific as possible, providing detail on the specifics of the activity/achievement.

Describe any aspect of your course of particular interest to you and/or of relevance to your application.

TIPS: Re-read the job description and person specification, if available. Identify parts of your course that have provided you with relevant skills. Employers will typically be looking for evidence that you can meet deadlines, work in team situations and rise to new challenges.

EXAMPLE: “I have found most aspects of my course interesting and rewarding. The highlight has been my final-year project, which involved interviewing academics and members of the general public to find out their views on the role of science in today’s society. I derived great satisfaction from successfully and effectively completing the project within the timescale set, and enjoyed the challenge of presenting my findings to my department…….”

Identify the qualities you possess which make you suitable for a career in X?

TIPS: You must reassure the selector that you have given your choice of career careful thought, and made a match between yourself and the post that you are applying for.

EXAMPLE: “I decided on a career in X as I am well organised and passionate about working with and motivating people. For example during my summer holidays I volunteered to work for a children’s summer camp for eight weeks, with responsibility for planning and running daily activities for 11-15 year olds. My flexibility and ability to think on my feet were invaluable during this time, for example on one occasion………”

What is your greatest achievement? Explain the steps you took to achieve it.

TIPS: Think about the attributes the selector is looking for. Identify where in your life you have demonstrated them.

EXAMPLE: ” I am particularly proud of the fact that I was able to lobby my local council to install local recycling facilities. Until last summer there were no recycling facilities available in the village where I live, as such I started a campaign to have the facilities installed. I was able to recruit four volunteers and together we asked local residents to sign a petition in favour of the facilities, wrote to local newspapers to raise awareness about our cause and to several local firms asking for sponsorship and help…”

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This information was last updated on 23 August 2017.
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Recent blogs about Application Forms

Bar Pro Bono Unit: Caseworker Volunteering Opportunities

Posted on behalf of Bar Pro Bono Unit. Blogged by Annie Dutton on 15/08/2018.

The Bar Pro Bono Unit is the Bar’s national charity, based in the National Pro Bono Centre on Chancery Lane, London, which helps to find pro bono legal assistance from volunteer barristers. They are seeking dedicated and enthusiastic individuals to volunteer as Academic Year Casework Volunteers 

This is a fantastic opportunity to obtain unique exposure to the Bar as a profession and to a wide range of areas of law. By volunteering you  will  learn a great deal about the practical working of the courts and the needs of litigants in person which should complement your studies.

You will be assisting the caseworkers one day per week, over a four month period. Tasks will include:

  • Drafting case summaries, using the case papers provided by individuals who need legal assistance; these case summaries are then used by experienced barristers when reviewing the file.
  • Drafting case allocation summaries which are used to try to find volunteer barristers around the country to take on the case on a pro bono basis.
  • Taking telephone calls from the public and providing updates to existing applicants.

Closing date for applications: Monday 27 August 2018 at 23:00

Requirements

You must have completed at least one year of law-related study or law-related work.

Previous volunteer’s feedback:

“I would strongly recommend to anyone interested in pursuing a legal career to try and spend some time with the BPBU. Not only does it look great on your CV, it also helps you hone crucial skills such as succinctly summarising the key facts of a case and identifying the relevant legal issues, something that should stand you in good stead for any pupillage or training contract interviews. The staff are all wonderfully welcoming and helpful, and whilst a key benefit is the range of areas you will experience (anything from Defamation to Child Protection), they will also accommodate specific requests to see more work in certain areas. Ultimately you are doing genuinely important work that makes a material difference to people’s lives, whilst being supplied with copious amounts of tea and cake. What’s not to like?”

The Student Consultancy Michaelmas Term – apply now!

Blogged by Lili Pickett-Palmer on 14/08/2018.

Consultancy Training in Michaelmas Term…

The Student Consultancy provides you with an exceptional insight into consultancy practice. Across a term, you will work in a team on a real-life business challenge for a client organisation.

Past students have worked with clients including: The Oxford Boat Race, Yellow Submarine, Belu Water, Eco Concierge, Eve, Happen, IBM, Minervation, Modern Art Oxford, Oxfam, Oxford Limited, OxHub, OxFizz, Oxford City Council, Oxford University Library Services, Pegasus Theatre and the Playhouse Theatre plus a range of start-ups.

… but it isn’t just about consulting!

The Student Consultancy can help you prove or improve a wide range of employability skills, some consultancy but also transferable skills including team work, communication, problem solving and business and customer awareness skills. These will be helpful in a huge range of future careers. Many of the students who take part actually do want to be a Management Consultant – which is great, but not a prerequisite! In other words, we don’t mind what you are studying as long as you have the right attitude and interest. Past TSC participants have ranged from 1st years to DPhils and from English to Economics students – with everything in between.

The Careers Service tries to match you to a client in a sector of interest – to provide experience for future applications. Whether you want a career in museums or marketing, or an insight into IT or charities, The Student Consultancy can help.

Apply now

We run The Student Consultancy each term – and applications for the Michaelmas Term 2018 Student Consultancy are now open. We strongly advise applying as soon as you can, as the application window will close once we have a certain number of participants.

To apply please search “Student Consultancy Michaelmas Term 2018” under the opportunities tab of CareerConnect.

For further information, and for mandatory assessment and training dates, please visit The Student Consultancy webpage.

RisingWISE: Empowering Enterprising Women in Science and Engineering

Posted on behalf of RisingWISE. Blogged by Corina Lacurezeanu on 14/08/2018.

RisingWISE is a newly established Oxbridge network that aims to foster long-term relationships between enterprising early-career researchers and women working in industry, to encourage more women to build careers across the science and technology sector.

PROGRAMME AIMS

Our 4-day workshop will bring together approximately 50 women over three weekends to:

  • Inspire and strengthen the Oxbridge WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) network;
  • Improve early-careers researcher’s (ECR) knowledge and understanding of how research works within industry and showing where their skills could apply and explore the different approaches across the two sectors;
  • Create a space for ECRs to meet other women who are already working within industry so that we can: break down barriers, encourage more women to take up internships and secondments within industry and/or work collaboratively on R&D;
  • Offer mentoring and leadership skills development opportunities to women in industry; and
  • Help all participates to enhance their confidence, learning techniques to apply these in their own working environments.

WORKSHOP DATES

  • Weekend 1 (Madingley Hall, Cambridge) – Friday 9 November 2018, 14:00–20:00 and all day Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 November 2018
  • Weekend 2 (Egrove Park, University of Oxford) – Friday 30 November 2018, 15:00–22:00, and all day Saturday 1 December 2018
  • Weekend 3 (Egrove Park, University of Oxford) – Friday 18 Jan 2019, 17:00–22:00, and all day Saturday 19 January 2019

Please note – successful delegate’s travel, accommodation, meals and all training workshops will be funded by the programme.

HOW TO APPLY

The application deadline is Friday 31 August 2018. As this is a pilot programme, spaces are limited. For more information and to apply for this programme please visit, the risingWISE page here

Win £50,000 to kickstart your entrepreneurial journey

Posted on behalf of WorldLabs. Blogged by Polly Metcalfe on 09/08/2018.

Got a bright idea? WorldLabs can help you elevate it!

WorldLabs’ mission is to help ideas develop and grow by providing the funding, tools and connections needed to thrive. Too many promising entrepreneurial projects fall by the wayside due to lack of resources, help or funding.

This is why we created the Elevating Ideas Competition: to give you the ability to showcase your idea, find valuable collaborators and gather the supporters you need to elevate your project to the next level.

  • No idea is too big or too small.
  • Projects can come from any field, and will not be judged based on your level of professional or entrepreneurial experience.
  • The award of £50,000 is designed to give your early-stage entrepreneurial venture an instrumental boost!
  • The best 10 applicants will have the opportunity to pitch at a large start-up conference in October in London.

For further details and to apply (deadline 3 September) visit the WorldLabs website.

LGBTQ+ Investment Banking Insight

Posted on behalf of Diversity Solutions. Blogged by Polly Metcalfe on 01/08/2018.

When: 13 September 2018

Where: Central London. Reasonable travel expenses within the UK (up to £75) will be reimbursed.

To apply: Submit your CV and a covering letter as soon as possible through the Inside & Out Website. 

Inside & Out is an investment banking insight event for first and second year LGBTQ+ undergraduates of all degree disciplines (i.e. finishing studies in 2020 and 2021).

A career in investment banking is highly competitive and extremely challenging, so it’s important that you have a strong academic background. If you are to attend, you should have achieved good grades at A-level (120+ UCAS Points or equivalent if you completed A-Levels in 2017 and earlier). Of course we will take any mitigating circumstances you provide into account. Because of the wide range of careers we offer, we welcome applications from all degree disciplines, so you don’t have to be studying a traditional finance-related subject to apply. What you will need is a real desire to find out all you can about the industry and the wide range of intern and full-time opportunities on offer.

The participating firms are:

  • BNP Paribas
  • Citi
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Goldman Sachs
  • HSBC
  • J.P. Morgan
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Nomura
  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch

The day will include a number of sessions, including a welcome speech from our supporters Stonewall and a networking session with representatives from the aforementioned firms.

Any issues? Queries? Email the organisers at events@staffordlong.co.uk and we’d be more than happy to help!

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