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Writing a Good Application Form

Career Support | Choosing Your Direction | Writing a Good CV | Interviews

It is important to take time when writing your application form. This is your opportunity to create a good impression for the selection panel. As a result of this, it is important to show the correct combination of skills, qualities and experience, making you the best candidate for the vacancy. Always present yourself in a positive light, and give evidence of how you meet all the job requirements.


Some specialties and posts are very popular, making them competitive. The impression that your application form gives is very important, especially if yours is the last form of four hundred applications the panel have looked at during the same day. There are several ways to create a good impression through the presentation of your application:

  • Read through all instructions carefully
  • If a particular font style and size is specified, ensure that you use them.
  • Keep answers within the word count specified.


Personal Details:

The majority of application forms begin with basic questions regarding personal details, information about education, and employment history. These sections are generally straight forward and self explanatory.  When completing the sections about education and employment, you should consider:

  • These should be entered in reverse chronological order, unless otherwise specified (most recent first)
  •  If there is space, give examples of key achievements and areas of particular interest in which you have excelled
  • Ensure the education section is balanced in favour or recent medical qualifications
  • If there is a blank space provided  for all education, ensure that pre-University information is presented in a short, one-line summary
  • Provide more detail information about your Medical degree / post graduate qualifications
  • Be concise and to the point
  • Ensure that you include duties and activities that will not be covered when answering the main questions


Structured Answers:

Many application forms use competency based questions, which require the candidate to use examples as evidence demonstrating the skills and qualities that they are looking for. Such questions might begin; Describe a situation..., Describe a time..., Give and example of...

The STAR model is recommended for interviews involving such questions, and is also appropriate to use when answering such questions within application forms:

Situation  Put the situation in context: briefly describe the situation so the example is clearly understood
Task Add more detail to the situation: where, when, how many / often, who
Action Say what action you actually took: outline your contribution
Result Describe the outcome: positive points, learning points, reflection upon the situation, make sure the reflection demonstrates how this has improved you as a potential doctor

It is important to structure your answers carefully and to put your point across in a clear way. This method allows you to focus upon the skills and qualities used and to give evidence of your attributes.

Personal Statement:

The personal statement is an opportunity to:

  • Summarise key strengths
  • Ensure all elements of the person or job specification
  • Show why you want the job


The person and job specifications are really important. If the elements outlined within them are not addressed in the application, the selection panel use this as the scoring criteria and will be less likely to invite you for interview if you do not identify how you meet the criteria.

It is sensible to group elements of your personal statement according to the job specification, this could be achieved with a short introduction, followed by the key points in sections mirroring the specification.

The statement should end with a brief  summary  explaining why you are applying for the post, this should be focused and to the point and demonstrate how serious you are with your application.

Do's and Don'ts


Read guidelines carefully before you begin
Follow instructions and complete every section
Answer the question
Use a variety of examples
Proof read - do not rely on a spell checker
Ask a senior colleague to look through your form
Follow all the instructions


Use informal language
Write about negative experiences
Leave time gaps
Use other people's information to write your application
Exceed given word limits

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