Tackling Online Applications

Online application forms allow employers to sift through candidates by using specific criteria. Here’s how you can make them work for you!
Jasmine Mun_Writer_gradmalaysia_round
Jasmine Mun
Writer, gradmalaysia
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An online application form can be time-consuming, but they are employers’ preferred method of processing internship applications in this digital age.

Apart from just uploading your CV and cover letter, these online applications require you to answer questions about your skills and motivations. Each company often has its own customised form, so make sure you don’t just copy and paste! Here are some tips on how to tackle online applications effectively.

Show, Do Not Just Tell

  • Back up your statements with further elaboration or include examples to prove your point.
  • Don’t just put unsubstantiated one-liners like “I gained commercial awareness through my university course”. You want to give recruiters enough information to be able to assess you.
  • Talk about how you gained this knowledge and use a specific example for illustration. (e.g. “Learned customer service skills while working as a café barista.”)
  • When it comes to stating your motivations for applying for that particular role, elaborate on the aspects of the job that appeal to you and state any related academic or work experience.

STAR: Situation, Task, Action, Result

The STAR technique helps keep your answers concise and to-the-point without sounding boastful. Especially with competency-focused questions, this technique is useful when writing about previous experiences and demonstrating your skill sets to show your fit for the role.

Here’s an example – “Tell me about a time you showed initiative as a club member.”

  • Situation – Describe the event that you were in

I was the lead performer in the Music Society and the secretary of the group faced an accident and was sidelined two weeks before an in-house performance.

  • Task – Describe your responsibility in that situation

I volunteered to fill in the position and compiled the required documents needed for the venue booking, instrument repairs and ticket sales while working on my performance.

  • Action – Describe how you completed the task or endeavoured to meet the challenge

I submitted all the documents in time for the performance to run with minor hiccups and with an attendance of 250 people.

  • Result – Explain the outcomes or results generated by the action taken

The university liked our performance and requested us to perform again at another upcoming event.

Write Each Answer Afresh

As much as we desperately want to copy and paste answers across multiple application forms, it’s still best to tweak your answers strategically despite how similar the questions may seem.

  • Be careful not to leave any mention of the previous companies you applied for if you reuse the same answers across a few different potential employers.
  • Do not copy and paste information directly from the employer’s – or their competitors’ – websites!
  • If you want to include information from the company website or social media in your application, always digest and process the information at your own pace and in your own words so that you develop an understanding of the employer from your own unique perspective.

Check, Check and Check Again

  • Make sure you’re familiar with the app that runs the application forms. Not all forms allow you to save your responses so you can take a break and check later. You may lose all your answers if you close the form midway.
  • Always draft your answers on a Word document before keying them into the form. If you’re not confident with writing, you can use a grammar-checking programme that checks your grammar as you go.
  • You can also let your university career advisor check your responses before the official submission.
  • Ensure that you have listed your contact information correctly, especially for your email address and mobile number.
  • Lastly, keep a copy of each online application sent out for your own reference so that you know what to speak or elaborate on during interviews.