Questions from Application Forms
These questions are based on questions found on real graduate job application forms for a variety of careers. We have chosen the questions because they are not related to the degree subject that you have studied. Instead, these questions relate to the employability skills and attributes that you will have developed during the course of studying for your degree and through your extra-curricula activities.

Employers like asking questions like these because making a decision on whether to employ you or not based purely on exam results does not tell them whether you will fit in or be reliable. Questions like these are designed to reveal how manageable you will be, how willing you are to learn and to see if you stand out from the crowd.

When you are filling in job application forms, make sure that you read the questions carefully, check your spellings and be positive!

How many of these questions can you answer fully now? Think about what you need to do to fill in the gaps or gain the experience that you need to answer the questions. Refer to your Personal Development Plan and your Key Skills audit – these should jog your memory about the experiences that you have had and how you have developed.

1. Describe an experience in the following key areas – outline the situation, your actions and the outcome. What did you learn from the experience?

i. Analytical Skills – analysing problems systematically and logically, identifying key issues.
ii. People Management Skills – give an example of when you have persuaded, influenced and displayed effective communication skills.
iii. Resilience – describe a situation where self-motivation, teamwork and the ability to work through setbacks effectively, coping with conflict and pressure has been important.

2. In relation to your decision making, team working and planning skills, describe a situation and what happened as a result of your actions for:

i. An occasion when you have had to make a decision about the appropriateness of a particular course of action.
ii. An occasion when you were involved in a situation which did not work out as you had planned.
iii. An occasion when you had to gain the respect of someone you were working with.

3. What Key Skills do you believe are required for your chosen career?
When and how have you demonstrated these Key Skills?

4. Describe a situation when you have had a real impact on the success of a team.
What did you do?
What was the outcome of your actions?

5. Describe a situation where you have worked with other people on a task, activity or project involving mutual co-operation and trust.

Describe a situation where you have influenced others to follow a course of action that you proposed. Describe how you were successful.
Describe a situation that demonstrates how you have applied your analytical skills to solve a problem.

6. What do you regard as your most impressive achievement? Why?

Give details of planning that you have done, outside of your academic studies, that has resulted in the successful achievement of a task. How did your planning affect the outcome?
Which skill that you have developed over the last three years do you think would help you most in a career in information technology? Why?

7 .Identify a time in your life when you have shown flexibility and adaptability, how did this help you to achieve your objective?

Think about a time when you were able to use your analytical skills to solve a problem – how did you know that the problem was solved?
Write about an occasion on which you were required to take a decision – what alternatives did you consider, and what was the result?

8. Give details of your Skills - language/IT/other:

9. What personal qualities do you possess which will help you to become a successful chartered accountant/ actuary/ solicitor/ manager etc?
What personal experiences have you had which demonstrate these qualities?

10. Give examples of a time when you have had the opportunity to use a particular competence. Describe the situation, your approach and actions, and what was achieved for the following:

• Self motivation
• Change, innovation and flexibility
• Analysis and evaluation
• Problem solving and decision making
• Planning and organisation
• Interpersonal skills.

11. What work experience – part time, voluntary, work placements, work shadowing etc. have you had whilst studying at university?

i. What have you learnt from those experiences in relation to your:
• Personal drive
• Team work
• Interest in Business

ii. Apart from vacation employment, how have you spent your university vacations?

iii. Describe an example of your experiences in the following areas, particularly with regard to your personal role:
• Working with other people to achieve an objective
• Organising a complex task
• Learning from a mistake, or overcoming a weakness
• Using your initiative
• Making a difficult decision

Questions from Interviews

How should you prepare for job interviews? Below are a series of questions from real graduate job interviews. Think carefully about how you would answer them. Are any of the questions designed to trick you? For some questions you will need to give examples in order to justify your answer – what experiences can you draw upon from your academic life, your work experience and your extra-curricula activities, in order to do this?

Trick questions
‘What do we have to do for you to take this post with us?’

Advice: This is more difficult than it sounds, as you have to demonstrate knowledge of their offices, work portfolio, and other relevant plus points.

‘What puts you off working for this company?’

‘Taking for granted that this is your first-choice firm, which is your second choice and why?’

‘Put yourself in our position – what question would you ask to test an interviewee?’

‘What do you think about working long hours?’

Advice: If you say ‘I will really hate it,’ they would immediately cross you off the list. But if you say ‘That would be marvelous,’ they will guess you are lying.

These kinds of questions aren’t there to dredge the truth out of you. Rather, they are designed to find out how good you are at putting together an argument that is sensitive to the full range of issues involved.

About yourself
‘What are your weaknesses?’
‘Give five good points and five bad points about yourself.’
‘Describe a recent event and how it motivated you.’
‘What would you change about yourself?’
‘What do you most regret?’
‘Explain how you confronted problems faced during previous employment and whether you felt these problems were satisfactorily resolved.’
‘What makes you laugh?‘
‘Which three events in the world at the moment make you the most angry and explain why?’

Market knowledge
‘What in your opinion, is wrong, with this firm?’
‘What do you see as the main challenges facing the teaching/social work/marketing profession in the next few years?’
‘Where do you see this company/institution going over the short-term future?’

Describing things to aliens
If we were aliens, how would you explain…
The Stock Exchange

Advice: These questions test your ability to explain complicated or unusual things in lay terms, you need to be clear, reasoned and articulate.

The death theme
‘When you die, what do you want written on your gravestone?’
‘If money was no object, what thing would you most like to do before you die?’

Advice: These questions are for testing your self-awareness…

The dinner party thing
‘You are having a dinner party or are stuck in a lift, with anyone you want, dead or alive, from the past or present. Who would it be and why?’

Advice: This seems to be a recurring favourite for many interview panels, so you may as well prepare yourself a list. Don’t get too clever or obscure though. Your reasoning, as ever, will be more important than the choices themselves.

The hardest one of all
‘Why do you want to be a teacher/social worker/actuary/museum curator/lawyer/biscuit maker?’

Advice: Many people find this the hardest questions of all to answer, perhaps you’ve never stopped to articulate it to yourself before. Perhaps you don’t have a good reason. Whatever, you should be prepared for this one – it’s hardly an unreasonable question, after all. Try to be honest too, or failing that, plausible.

How is your application form looking?
If you haven't had to write a professional CV before or are just looking for a few tips, we can offer you a selection of current styles.

Remember to check through your application thoroughly. You would be surprised how many people submit applications with spelling and grammatical errors, whilst at the same time saying they have an 'eye for detail'.

Related Pages: Employability,    Questions from Application Forms,    Summer Recess Questions from Employers

You can greatly increase your Employability by taking a 1-year Placement or Gap Year. Life Experiences and Volunteering are also very useful, as these show a greater depth of personality, and will engender greater interest from potential employees - making you stand out from the crowd

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