Preparing your Application Form

The application form is very much a key part of the recruitment process in the Irish Public Service amongst other industries.​Unlike our previous blog on CVs, where we argued that there is a need to manage how much information you give away on a CV, lest the key factors become lost, the application form requires a little more. This is where we are combining our experience with our behaviours and depicting examples of where we performed well in relation to the requisite competencies. The biographical information is standard and will echo any CV, but often recruiters want to integrate all of your information in to one neat document.

However, the most important part of the application form is by far the competencies. Not only do they give the panel an idea of who they will be interviewing, but often they are the first impression the panel has of you and they form the basic framework for the interview. Depending on the level of the role you are applying for the number of competencies will vary as obviously will the nature of them. But often they fall in to a number of specific categories. Decision-making, inter-personal capacity, delivery of results, team work and or leadership (first-line, strategic, or operational, again level dependent). The distinction here is between interpersonal capacity and delivery of results. The interview board wants to know more about you and have evidence of your ability under these sections to inform their final decision. It is also important to note that this information needs to be specific and pertain to an actual events or situation. This is a rule of writing fiction: show don’t tell. There is no use in merely saying that you are great at making decisions. That won’t cut it as you demonstrate little. We need you to tell a story.

[*An attendant note here as this relates to interviews: in doing the above we don’t want to over-rehearse or learn our lines to within an inch of their lives. As an organisation that has spent a larger portion of its working life sitting on interview boards, H-TRAINING can vouchsafe that this approach is invariably a disaster. The interview comes across robotic and impersonal and we feel like we are attending a recital. It isn’t human enough. And ultimately that is what any good board in trying to ascertain, who are you. Hiding behind memorised material does not help them to discover this.]

So the next question is how do we organise this information? What comes first and how can we ensure we are hitting on all of the requirements. The answer is very simple. The STAR technique is a simple and trusted method to help us deliver information verbal and can structure the depiction of a given scenario very well.

It breaks down as follow:

S-Situation (1-2 sentences)

T-Task (1-2 sentences)

A-Actions (3-4 sentences)

R-Results (1-2 sentence)

These are only a guideline and may need to be amended based on your role and or the specific competency we are relaying. But it is a useful tool to write your competencies with and easily transfers over into the conversational environment.

We offer more information on this method in our interview coaching programme which begins with assistance in filling out application forms. Where we can walk you through the process of writing competencies or editing what you have already compiled. We offer hourly (€80) or 2 hourly (€150) slots, depending on your requirements.

For an appointment call us today on 0872553080 or 0852069099

Or email or


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