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How to make a great application

An application form is your opportunity to tell us why we should interview you. It's an excellent opportunity for you to create a good impression. We've put together a guide on how to complete our application form and performing well at interview.

So what makes a great application form?

Make sure that you do:

  • Tailor your answers to the specific job description and criteria in the person specification – this allows you to really explain your skills and match them to the job you are applying for. Give real life examples to demonstrate how you match the criteria. For example if the person specification asks for "Excellent written and verbal communication skills" give an example that demonstrates when you have done this really well.
  • You will only be shortlisted if you meet the essential requirements of the person specification. The decision to shortlist you for interview will be solely based on the information you provide in the application form.
  • Keep your information relevant, concise and factual – the equivalent of one or two pages should be sufficient when completing ‘Further Information’ section. Using the headers in the person specification may help you to get information across clearly.
  • If the job is in a different sector from your previous experience, draw links between the two.
  • Always check your spelling and grammar.
  • It is a good idea to save a copy of your application as the system will only save the most recently submitted one. You can click on Preview or Print Your Form on the right hand side and save this to your computer as a web page.
  • A great application form is your chance to persuade us that you are right for the post. It's your ticket to that all-important interview.
  • By following some basic principles you will be able to present the information in a clear, concise and persuasive way. We will always expect to see the following information:

Personal details

  • Always include your name, address, phone numbers and email address. Correspondence will mainly be via the email address you use to create a username.

Education and Training

  • List details of any qualifications gained (GCSE, A-levels or degree) including your grades starting with the most recent and working backwards.
  • You may also wish to include details of any additional qualifications (e.g. national standard cycle instructor training) or courses that you have attended which would be relevant to the role that you are applying for.

Employment History

  • Always list the most recent work experience first. Describe your work experience in short sentences or bullet points highlighting your responsibilities, achievements and skills acquired.

Interests

  • You may want to include a very brief overview of your interests and hobbies outside of the workplace to give us a more rounded view of yourself. Again, remember to keep it concise and relevant.

Presentation

Presentation is the key to a great application. Make sure it is clearly laid out, highlights the most important information and is easy to read.

Make sure that you do:

  • Highlight your achievements and not just your responsibilities.
  • Keep your answers concise and relevant.
  • Make your most relevant experience and skills prominent to assist us in understanding your suitability.
  • Keep to the point and concentrate on the quality of your achievements, not the quantity.
  • List other skills that could raise you above the competition.
  • Check thoroughly for correct spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Get a second opinion.
  • Always include examples of what you have done and achieved at work.

Interview preparation

  • Preparation is the key to a successful interview, so it's worth doing your homework beforehand.
  • Do your research. Study our website and find out what we do.
  • Have another look at the job description and familiarise yourself with it.
  • Think of a few questions that you would like to ask the interview panel.
  • Dress appropriately. Although our dress code is smart casual, it is always best to wear something smart to your interview. 
  • Take time to read through your application form before your interview.
  • Make sure you know where you are going and avoid unnecessary stress on the day. Check directions or public transport timetables and leave plenty of time. Our contacts section contains the addresses of all of our regional offices.
  • Some of our interviews will also involve a short assessment exercise. Depending on the job this could be giving a presentation or a computer-based test. When we write to invite you to interview we will also let you know whether there will be any other activities involved or any prior preparation needed.

At the interview make sure that you do:

  • Turn up on time - ideally arrive 5 minutes early.
  • Be aware of your body language – it's not good to fold your arms for example as it might come across as being negative
  • Maintain good eye contact with all of the interviewers not just the person asking the question.
  • Always speak clearly and answer in detail but do not go on and on.
  • Be enthusiastic and motivated about Sustrans and the role that you're applying for – we like people that are passionate about working for us.
  • Sell yourself - this is your one chance.
  • If you don't know something or lack experience in a given area, admit it but show that you are keen to learn new skills.

Make sure that you don't:

  • Be late – it does not give a good impression and will just make you stressed.
  • Criticise current or previous employers.
  • Interrupt the interviewers – you'll get your chance to answer the questions.
  • Get distracted - focus on the conversation and the people in the room.

Good luck with your application!

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