Application forms are used by recruiters to standardise their application processes. Most large employers now use online systems, which require the completion of a web-based template – sometimes within a specific timescale once started. Some employers may also ask for other documentation, for example a CV, to be sent by email or uploaded onto a website.

The Careers and Employability Service is here to help you with all aspects of applying for jobs including advising and reviewing your application form.

What do I include in my application?

The answers to include on your application depend on the job role you are applying for and are based on the job description and person specification employers provide to help you understand the role and fill in the forms.

  • The Person Specification describes the type of person they are looking for. Use the details provided as a guide to designing your responses. It will tell you what are the essential and desirable requirements for the job and it is your responsibility to demonstrate how you meet those requirements. As the wording implies, essential requirements are those that all applicants must meet in order to be considered for an interview and your ability to meet the desirable requirements will help the employer to differentiate between candidates.
  • Job descriptions outline the key duties and nature of the role, talk about the experience you have already gained in similar roles and situations.
  • Provide real examples and analyse what you actually did – instead of saying 'working for Quay Radio developed my team working skills' – show more clearly what your role was and how it developed your skills. Keep your examples relevant and structured.
  • Application forms can have competency-based questions and/or personal statement questions.
    • Competency-based questions ask you to provide relevant skills and evidence for the role you’re applying for.
    • Personal statement questions are more open, e.g. what skills and experience do you have that relate to the job? For these kind of questions, you need to use the requirements for the job (look at the advert and person specification) to provide evidence of your suitability. Refer to the person specification and job description and make sure that you address all of the skills, competencies and experience that they ask for. You may find it useful to use the sections in the job description or person specification to create your own headings to organise your answer and make sure that you miss nothing out. This will also make it easier for the employer to find and cross-reference your responses against the specification.


The employer will probably want to know why you want the job. Most application forms will include a section asking applicants to talk about why they are interested in the role. Employers only want to recruit people who are genuinely enthusiastic about working in their organisation and it makes perfect sense to ask applicants to explain their interest.

Do you have application example questions?

The Careers and Employability Service have written an in-depth guide to completing an application form with some example questions and answers to give you an idea about how to tackle the form and important things to include.

There are also some example speculative application letters to give you some ideas about how to construct them.

To view the guide please visit our website.

Where can I get my application reviewed?

The Careers and Employability Service have a dedicated team of friendly, experienced advisers on hand to talk to you. You can either book a careers appointment by coming into the Careers and Employability Service or via telephone, +44 (0) 23 9284 2684. We do also offer drop-in application clinics please check MyCareer for details and times. You can also access a wide range of information and advice on our website at

How to Contact us

Visit us at:

Careers and Employability Service

University of Portsmouth

28 Guildhall Walk



Opening hours:

Monday–Thursday: 8.30am–5pm

Friday: 8.30am–4pm


Telephone or Email:

t: +44 (0)23 9284 2684


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