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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

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This information was last updated on 31 May 2019.
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Recent blogs about Application Forms

OXFO L.E.V8 Accelerator

Posted on behalf of Oxford Foundry. Blogged by Mike Moss on 20/09/2019.

OXFO L.E.V8 (Elevate) at the Oxford Foundry is the University of Oxford’s most diverse accelerator. The programme takes in up to 12 high potential ventures a year and is designed to support and nurture early-stage start-up teams affiliated to the university.

Oxford students, staff and alumni can get six months free support to build their venture. This includes mentorship, masterclasses, and access to the Foundry’s global network of investors and partners including Biz Stone, Cofounder of Twitter and Medium, Jenny Tooth OBE, UK Business Angels Association, Professor Bill Aulet, MIT, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, and Robin Saunders, Managing Partner at Clearbrook Capital.

Ventures also get support to build a team – many ventures have met their cofounders through the Foundry, along with leadership and resilience skills support, financial, business, pitching, product-market fit, customer development and legal advice.

To date, the Foundry has supported 19 start-ups who have raised £7m, created 70 jobs and are having a global impact across sectors including retail, medtech, energy, publishing, fintech and more.

The accelerator is based in our Oxford Foundry building on Hythe Bridge street and runs from 18 November 2019 to May 2020.

“The Foundry has accelerated our growth by providing a space devoted to entrepreneurship, giving us access to people with diverse talents and expertise, and to its network of investors. It has been incredible. Such growth wouldn’t have been possible without the Foundry. We are now focused on raising capital and sales and marketing. We want to sign ten new clients by the end of the year.” Jason Lacombe, CEO, Veratrak.

We welcome solo founders and teams and it’s a fantastic chance to be part of a supportive and expert community.  The programme is equity-free.

Apply online on the Oxford Foundry website. Deadline: 30 September 2019.

AstraZeneca and BBSTEM Collaboration Event in Cambridge

Posted on behalf of AstraZeneca and BBSTEM . Blogged by Claire Chesworth on 20/09/2019.

AstraZeneca have joined forces with BBSTEM to provide an opportunity for university students and recent graduates of an African or Caribbean heritage to visit AstraZeneca and learn about their Early Talent opportunities.

BBSTEM is a non-profit organisation campaigning for balance and representation of Black individuals in science, technology, engineering and maths. They are offering this event specifically for University students from 2nd year Bachelors/Masters to Post-Doc, who are currently studying a STEM subject on track to receive a 2.1 or equivalent.

The event will be taking place in Granta Park, Cambridge on Wednesday, 16 October. Apply through the Eventbrite form.

Spaces at this event are limited to 40, first come first served. When you apply you will need to submit a 100 word paragraph about your interest in the pharmaceutical industry and the benefit this day will bring for you.

Mewburn Ellis – Patent Open Day in Bristol

Posted on behalf of Mewburn Ellis . Blogged by Claire Chesworth on 20/09/2019.

Mewburn Ellis are running an open day at their Bristol office on 1 November for students who are interested in finding out more about life as a Patent Attorney. The day will include talks from their current trainees and attorneys, as well as practical exercises.

Primarily these days are aimed at those studying STEM subjects at any level, intending to join us as a trainee patent attorney in 2020.

Book your place now by going to their online registration page.

Places fill up quickly so sign up soon to avoid disappointment.

Inns of Court BPTC Scholarships open on 20 September and close on 1 November 2019

Blogged by Julia Sadler on 18/09/2019.

Qualifying as a Barrister can be a very expensive business; barristers’ chambers don’t offer the same sponsorship opportunities as law firms. However, the four Inns of Court (Middle, Inner, Gray’s and Lincoln’s Inn) offer over £5 million in awards, scholarships and bursaries to aspiring barristers.

Applications for scholarships designed to support your BPTC (the Bar Professional Training Course) year, from all four Inns, open on Friday 20 September and close on 1 November. Previous stats show that roughly one in three applicants are awarded a scholarship on average. Find out more at the the individual Inns’ websites:

Civil Service Fast Stream: 4-week application window opens soon!

Blogged by Hugh Nicholson-Lailey on 17/09/2019.

The Fast Stream application window will open for 4 weeks only, from 26 September to 12:00 (noon) on 24 October for:

  • Full-time positions starting September 2020
  • Summer Diversity Internship Programme (SDIP) for penultimate year students, July-August 2020

The Fast Stream offers the opportunity to contribute to fast-paced work that touches the lives of everyone in the UK. See the Fast Stream career pages and FAQs for comprehensive details of all 15 ‘streams’, check eligibility criteria and learn about the application process. Keep up to speed and hear daily from current fast streamers via social media – this year all brought under one umbrella via the Fast Stream Social Wall.

Oxford’s recently updated Government and Public Admin briefing provides our latest insights and advice about preparing for Fast Stream applications – and offers ideas on other routes into the UK civil service and public sector careers in general.

Check details on CareerConnect for events throughout Michaelmas Term, including:

Week 1:

  • Monday 14 October – 14:15-15:30 Insight into the Civil Service Fast Stream: Hear from a current Fast Stream Generalist, and one of this summer’s SDIP participants
  • Saturday 19 October – 11:30-12:15 Graduate Schemes and Careers With Social Impact Panel discussion at the Oxford Careers Fair, Exam Schools

Week 3: 

  • Monday 21 October – 14:15-15:30 Career lounge on Fast Stream Applications  Careers Adviser-led chat and questions from the audience on application process.
  • Thursday 24 October – 12:00 (noon) Application Deadline

Week 6: 

  • Thursday 21 November – 13:45-17:00 Civil Service Policy Game: Interactive role-play to provide policy advice for Minister’s decision. Booking essential

Week 7: 

  • Friday 27 November –  Civil Service Interview Support: Only for candidates continuing in the process, one-to-one advice sessions: booking essential.

Week 8:

  • Friday 3 December – Civil Service Interview Support: Only for candidates continuing in the process, one-to-one advice sessions: booking essential.
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