Writing a successful application form is a real challenge - and employers are increasingly relying on application forms as well as CV's to recruit graduate talent. LSE careers has produced a booklet which will give you really useful information on how to complete a form (download as a pdf from www.lse.ac.uk/careers)
Application forms are a useful example of using the thesis - justification - support model for short answers. These forms tend to give you no more than 50 to 200 words to answer their questions. That you can do this concisely and with clarity is as much a part of the recruitment process as the content of what you write. Classic questions tend to ask about a particular experience through which you can demonstrate skills / judgement / success. In this context...
Thesis - that you have the kind of experience they ask about and learned from it
Therefore start with ...
Situation - give a brief introduction to the event so that the reader knows the context
Task - Specify what exactly you had to do
Justification -show that you learned useful transferable skills
Action - give plenty of detail about what you did, how you did it and what skills you used
Support - prove that you learned and were successful
Result - what was the outcome? What happened? - make sure that you are specific and quantify where applicable. The emphasis is on what you actually DID and how this relates to YOUR ability in a particular competency
Below you will see examples of responses to classic application form questions. Which do you think would get the job?
Tell us about a time when you worked in a team. What was your role and what did you achieve?( 200 words)
My last internship position was at an EX Cast economic consultancy. This is a small, specialist consultancy that worked with a number of high profile clients such as Goldman Sachs, CSFB and Deutsche Bank. The company has experienced growth of over 20% year on year over the past 5 years and is considered a market leader in its sector. I worked in a dynamic team and was exposed to a number of different departments including sales, marketing and personnel. The team worked extremely effectively together. We worked on a wide variety of different projects which allowed me to use my interpersonal skills to the fore. In sales I liaised frequently with senior executives and this improved my communication skills to a considerable degree. The internship was successful and showed my commitment and loyalty to the sector.
I was an intern at Ex -cast economic consultancy for six weeks in the summer of 2006. I worked in a team of four, headed up by a senior partner.
I attended meetings with my colleagues where we divided tasks according to our experience and skills. The major project we worked on was for CSFB where we asked to analyse and extrapolate trends in the ethical healthcare sector. Given my background in economics my role was to research one FTSE company in particular. I set about this by researching who the major investors and senior executives were and then approaching them to arrange meetings where I interviewed them. I fed this information back to my team by weekly presentations and then amended my analysis according to feedback from other team members. In the last week of the project all the teams research was polled into a final report. My role here was to proof read the final draft, correcting any errors and checking back with other team members to ensure all the statistics were accurate.
The project was completed 2 days ahead of schedule and was considered successful by CSFB who have commissioned Ex - cast for further projects.