Application forms, supporting statements and speculative applications

There are different ways that organisations may ask you to apply for a vacancy, besides using a CV and cover letter, these include application forms and supporting statements.

Application forms ask you to answer specific questions posed by the company to get a feel for your work style and how you would handle certain situations. Supporting statements may be used instead; you will need to show how you meet the essential and desirable criteria for the role as set out in the Personal Specification and Job Description.

You may also consider sending a 'speculative application' to an employer that you are interested in, to see if they might have an opening for you, even though they are not currently advertising. If you strike it lucky, this can be a great way to find work or work experience.

What will I be asked in my application?

Competency questions

A competency question will ask for an example of a time you have demonstrated a skill or worked in a particular way. Answer these with the STAR method:

  • Situation - Explain where you were working/studying
  • Task - Clearly outline what you were trying to achieve
  • Action - Clearly explain how and why you did something in a particular way (50 - 70% of your answer)
  • Result - Should be positive; learning something, a good grade, increased efficiency, positive feedback and so on.


Situational questions

A situational question is similar, except rather than asking how you have worked in the past, it asks how you might react to a future situation.

For these questions, you can write about how you think you would approach the situation, and then back this up with an example of how you have acted similarly in the past, using the STAR method.