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Answering key questions

Answering key questions

Answering key questions

Employers often use application forms with a section of key questions. There are lots of reasons for this but mainly it is to help them:

  • Narrow the field of candidates to those that match the job and person specification.
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses in key areas.
  • Test candidates' communication skills.
  • Be consistent in their shortlisting.

Key questions on application forms normally fall into two categories:

Questions about the job

These are normally questions about the company, the type of work or the industry sector. They might be questions like:

  • Why do you want to work at this company?
  • What inspires you about working in finance?
  • What changes do you think will occur in the renewable energy sector in the next 5 years?

These questions are used mainly to measure your motivation for a job or company and your understanding of the role or the industry sector.

It is vital that you do your research, show that you are up to date with the latest related news and have an opinion on what they do. When talking about why you want to do the job they are offering, you need to demonstrate your motivation, commitment and enthusiasm. Equally importantly, you need to demonstrate that you have made an informed and well-planned decision to go into the career you have chosen.

Questions about your skills, competencies and qualities

The most common key questions are those that ask for examples of how you can demonstrate a skill or your wider attributes. Questions could include:

  • Tell us about a time when you have had to communicate your point of view in a difficult situation.

It is important that you listen to the question and make sure that any example you use covers everything they ask. In this case, there is no point giving a general example of communication without addressing the difficult situation requirement.

It is a good idea to use a STAR example which demonstrates your competency in relation to the job description.

  • At this company we are head and shoulders above our nearest competitors. What sets you apart from others?

It is important to use a STAR example of something that you have done on your degree, in work or as part of an extra-curricular activity that demonstrates what sets you apart from others.

In the action part of your example try to describe which skills you used and make sure they are ones that you think the employer would value in the particular job role.

In the result part of your example, focus on your achievements and any impact you made to demonstrate what sets you apart from other people.