How you complete your application form is of vital importance. It stands between you and an invitation to attend an interview for the job you are applying for so it’s worth giving it your best attention. We hope these notes will help you achieve that and they are not definitive but hopefully help guide you through completing an application form. There is a wealth of information on the internet so please take the time to research as much as you can.
The application form
The NHS Jobs application form contains a number of sections in which you are asked to give important personal details. These include information such as a summary of your employment history, educational qualifications and there are some declarations that it is important that you complete honestly and accurately.
There is an additional information section for you to give evidence showing that you have the knowledge, skills, abilities and other personal qualities needed to do the job. These are referred to as competencies. The competencies are shown as either essential or desirable in the person specification for the job role. It is important that you read through this list of competencies and see how you can relate that to the experience, knowledge and skills that you have gained. You will need to explain, in your own words, how, when and where you have put these competencies into practice. It’s important that you are able to evidence that you have these competencies to get through the shortlisting stage in the first instance. It is not enough to say you are capable of or can do something; you have to give an example that demonstrates the competency. If you are short listed, the interview panel will use the competencies to assess you at the interview stage, and will score you against each competency based on the evidence you give in answer to competency based questions. There is a wealth of information on how to answer competency based questions on the Internet and it is a good source of advice that can help you prepare for an interview.
What is a competency?
A competency is a set of actions that someone must be capable of carrying out in order to perform well in some aspect of a job.
Effective communications with a range of people on a range of matters
Undertakes effective communications with others by….
Work in partnership to improvement of services
Makes suggestions and works proactively to improve services for the benefit of others.
Maintain high quality in own work and encourage others to do so
Follows procedures and encourages others to do so.
How do I prove that I am capable of showing these competencies by filling in a form?
Hint: Think of a situation you have been in, describe what it was, what tasks you undertook and how you did those tasks then outline what the outcome was. This methodology is known as STAR. You can research this term on the internet to find out more about it. You might find it helpful not only for completing your application form but also for preparing for an interview.
The Trust and the NHS have a set of core values and behaviours and we will be looking for evidence of how you meet those standards. In your examples for each competency, you should describe the way that you behaved and the effect that this had on the situation. This way, the panel will be able to judge the extent to which you are capable of applying the same behaviours in a new job.
How will the competency statements be marked?
In order to understand how best to do justice to your abilities it is important to know how your competency statements will be assessed.
Describe the situation
Firstly you will need to ‘set the scene’ on what the situation was. There is not likely to be any marks for this so keep it brief and to the point but it’s important to outline the situation clearly. Explain what tasks and responsibilities you took in that situation.
Describe the outcome
Explain what the outcome [results] of your actions was and why they were successful. If it wasn't as successful as it could have been, explain what you could have done differently to achieve a better outcome. You may get extra points for this if it shows additional evidence of being able to carry out relevant activities. Keep your descriptions of the outcome brief as most of the marks will be given for what you did and how and why you did it and not for what happened as a result, although the panel still needs to know this. In other words you need to show what led to the particular outcome and what your part in it was.
Describe what you did
This is the most important part as the panel will award marks for those activities that meet the competency. Avoid describing activities that are not relevant or relate to what others did. However, you should describe how your actions affected other relevant people such as other team members, customers etc. where this will reinforce the evidence for the effectiveness of your actions.
- Briefly describe the setting and what was expected of you
- Say what you did not what others did
- Describe the outcome and impact of your actions on others and on the situation
- Say how you could have improved on what you did
- Give evidence that is relevant to the competency
- Do not spend time and space describing activities that are not relevant to the competency
- Use your own words to describe the activities
- Show that you know why the actions you took were effective
- Provide evidence of how you approached the task and your attitude towards if that is relevant.
Writing Your Additional Information
Part of the skill here is to express yourself clearly, and keep it brief and to the point but making sure you have covered every point. Write it in draft as you are not likely to get it right first time. Re-read your draft, and see if you have covered every point or repeated anything. Have you said anything that is irrelevant and check that you have not exceeded the maximum length allowed?
Using your own words will demonstrate that you understand what is required. Use ‘I’ and active verbs, e.g. "I decided to…."; "I took responsibility for….”; "I suggested that we…."; "I presented...”. Describe your thoughts, actions and feelings rather than just describing what happened. Describe the impact that your actions had on the situation and on others e.g. "The other team members adopted my idea"; "the manager agreed to use my process"; "the procedure that I put in place saved £5.00 per transaction".
- Firstly, give yourself plenty of time, and do justice for yourself and your success!
- Choose a situation that gives you the optimum opportunity to demonstrate a range of activities that match the competency and sets the scene and context for your action.
- Choose a situation that is most recent, it will have more impact than an example that was a long time ago. Check if there are any parameters you need to consider, e.g. examples must be within the last two years.
- Evidence can be from a variety of activities such as voluntary work as well as paid employment or leisure activities. Check if there are any restrictions on what evidence you can use; it may stipulate a maximum number of non-work related examples or a minimum number of work related examples may be required.
- Keep it short and to the point, and keep it relevant to the competency.
- Use your own words and make sure it is grammatically well written with correct spellings.
- Describe what you did, your actions, what you thought and felt and why. Include the impact of your actions on the situation and others.
- Include what your responsibilities and objectives were, and what resources you used if that is relevant to the situation.
- Describe why your actions were effective and what the outcomes were. Include a reflection on what you learnt and what you would do differently or improve if the situation arose again.
- Don’t use jargon or specialist terms as a panel may not be familiar with them.
- Finally, be prepared to work on your draft before you reach a final version you are happy with. It’s worth the investment of your time.
More Top tips
It is important that you fully complete all sections of the application form.
- Complete your full employment history and don’t leave any gaps. If you have a gap there is a box at the end of the section to note the period and reason. Please make sure you complete this if necessary as we will need to know at a later stage.
- Record all your qualifications and take note of the minimum requirements for the role. Original certificates will be requested as part of an employment checks process if you are successful.
- Ensure you give valid referees. These must be employment related wherever possible and cover the last three years of employment. Your referees should have had a line management responsibility for you, e.g. your Supervisor or Team Leader.
- Ensure you complete the declarations
- NHS jobs that have direct patient contact will require you to declare spent and unspent convictions. Please ensure you complete this fully and honestly. The Trust will apply for a Disclosure if it is required for the role. The level of Disclosure required will be stated in the advert for the job.