If you’re currently applying for jobs online, you’ll know that there’s a huge amount of competition out there. To help you stand out from the hundreds of other applicants, below are some of our top tips. For more advice, check out the first part of this blog here ( Part 1).
Applying for Jobs Online
Learn how to concisely explain why you want the job
Employers are keen to find out exactly why you want to do the job, and more specifically why you want to work with them over their competitors. It’s imperative that you don’t answer this question with anything negative about your current employer or job situation. For instance, don’t tell them that you’re hoping to work with them simply to escape your toxic boss or because you feel underpaid at your current job.
Remain positive and talk about how you’re looking for an opportunity to challenge you and you want to learn more. Focus on career development rather than complaining about your current employer.
Employers will also be interested in understanding why you’ve chosen them over others in the sector. So when they ask ‘why us?’, try not to focus solely on what you think they can do for you. Your answers should centre more around the value that you think you can bring the company. In order to answer this question effectively, thorough research is essential. When answering the question ‘why us?’ try and convey the following:
- Extensive knowledge of the company and their products or services
- Experience of the sector or industry
- Knowledge of their markets and target audience
- Experience working with similar sized companies
Competency based questions
Competency questions are commonly included in online application forms these days. These questions provide you with an opportunity to talk about situations and scenarios where you have displayed the skills that the organisation is looking for. For instance, if the job description lists that they are looking for someone with great teamwork skills, it is likely that they’d want your answer to the competency question to provide evidence of your teamwork.
We’d highly recommend using the STARR method to help you answer competency questions effectively:
- S – describe the Situation you were in
- T – describe the Task at hand
- A – talk about the Action you decided to take
- R – include the Results that you achieved
- R – mention how you Reflected on the situation and how you would improve it next time.
How to tackle the dreaded question – ‘What do you think your weaknesses are?’
A question that employers love to ask is regarding your strengths and weaknesses. The strength bit offers us a great opportunity to talk ourselves up, but most of us struggle to talk about our weaknesses. Try not to answer in a cliched way such as saying your weakness is being a perfectionist or working too hard. Employers hear this too often.
The best way to tackle this question is by rephrasing your weaknesses to sound positive and merely like areas for improvement or further development. For instance, if your weakness is being a little too introverted in meetings, talk about how you reflect on things too much and want to push yourself to communicate better.
Unusual interview questions
Every now and then, you’ll come across an application form that includes an odd question such as ‘If you could have any superpower, what would it be?’ This is the employer’s way of trying to gauge how you think and how you express yourself. Try to answer with confidence and be yourself!
Most application forms will include a list of questions at the end regarding ethnicity, health issues and gender. These are included to ensure that the employer is being anti-discriminatory in their hiring practices. However, you are under no obligation to answer them if you choose not to.
When listing down references, choose a couple of academic or business referees who you know will describe your skills effectively and paint a rounded picture of you. You aren’t allowed to list relatives and friends in this section.
And a few final tips …
- Don’t fabricate anything on your application. This can easily be found out after you’re employed and is a sackable offence.
- Ask a friend to read through your final draft for you.
- Leave yourself adequate time before the submission deadline to check for any errors you may have missed.
- Save your answers on your own computer as you may not be able to access the application once the job is closed.