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Survive Those Online Applications: One Size Does Not Fit All


I recall the grind.


Waking up early and finding the time to complete online application questions during recruitment season, whilst balancing classes, work and life. Falling asleep at the wheel was a common trap to fall into, thinking I could recycle answers from one application to the next.


Unfortunately there is only one strategy to get through this period, and you’re not gonna like it, but it’s absolutely necessary. You need to dedicate the time and tailor each answer..to each question..for each company!


To give some context to how important this is, after your CV goes through the many stages of screening through recruitment software, where key criteria like University, grades and employment history are compared against thousands of other CV’s, you will then most likely either perform a psychometric or gamified assessment.


If you’re well prepared enough to make it through all those stages, your answers to the online application questions will usually be read in conjunction with your assessment results and resume.


It’s the first opportunity you will have to actually convince the company of your worth, so make it count or risk falling away.


With that context hopefully you now see how it’s impossible to replicate your answers for other online screens, each company requires a tailored approach.


Follow these few simple rules below to give yourself the best chance of success.

CTRL+C | CTRL+V: We hope we made this point abundantly clear form our opening. If you want to give yourself any chance of success, you just can’t copy and paste your answers from other applications. You will have subconsciously written these answers to be quite passive, it will not have the targeted language and style needed to persuade the reader of the effort you put in to stand out.


Peer Review: A staple process in any professional environment, so get used to getting this style of feedback. Draft your responses and send them to people you trust, weather that be a professional you know or a family member. Always gain feedback before you click ‘submit’. You’ll be surprised the benefits you get from this process in the long run.


Save and Re-Visit: Never make any decision in haste, take time to absorb what you have written and look at it with fresh eyes. If you’re like the many students we coach, you will have a targeted and structured timetable for these application questions, you will have left yourself more than enough time to complete the questions, save them down to then revisist in the next few days. You will be surprised the benefit of letting your responses sit for a while, when you do revisit those small acute tweaks to your sentences will really make all the difference.


Match Your Language: You will have noticed from your extensive research of the company your applying for, that they all use a certain style of language on their websites and public documents to communicate. Get familiar and understand this writing style and structure your responses in the same manner. Pay particular attention to the social media feeds from the companies which advertise graduate positions, that’s your golden ticket.

Ultimately your success in the online application stage will be a culmination of the effort you have put in to provide a tailored response to questions you asked. Remember your audience here spends all day reading these style of responses, so they can pick apart the generic from the genuine.