What separates a good answer from a great one?

In such a crowded and competitive job market, you can’t afford to settle for good – you have to aspire to great. And before you hit the panic button, I’m talking applications, not experience. Many students produce ‘good’ applications that seem to hit the right notes, but the tune is more Radio 2, than Mercury Prize. So how do you ensure recruiters tune in, not out?

We filmed “on location” at our recent Impact Fair and posed this very question to some of our graduate recruiters. Watch, listen and learn!

Now those of you familiar with presentations will know the key to success is tell them and once you’ve told them, tell ’em again. So, points to remember:

Do your research

  • Research is not just a case of regurgitating what you’ve read on the website or glossy brochures.  Show that you really understand the company vision, values and culture and use this knowledge to inform and shape your answers. Take a 360 degree approach to your research – don’t just scratch the surface.

Think about the ‘fit’

  • Consider your fit within the organisation. Can you articulate how, where and why you will make – or have the potential to make – a valuable contribution? If you’re struggling with the motivational aspect of your application form, this should tell you something.

Use the STAR approach

  • Many applications are heavy on description and light on analysis (or as we careers folk like to say ‘reflection’). Focus on action and results, and go easy on the narrative style. And remember: YOU are the protagonist of your career story so think ‘I’ not ‘we’ when it comes to examples.

Give good examples

  • Give good examples to highlight your skills and attributes. If you can draw from a range of experiences – academic, extra-curricular and work – it will certainly strengthen your application, but it isn’t simply a numbers game. Quality will generally trump quantity.

Don’t exaggerate

  • A little creative licence can’t hurt, can it? Wrong! Graduate recruiters are well versed in application trickery and can spot a fake a mile off. Even if you do slip through the net, the chances are your mask will slip at the interview stage. A great answer sounds authentic and alive, not inflated and contrived.

One thought on “What separates a good answer from a great one?

  1. Pingback: Job Applications: What separates a good answer from a great one? | Bournemouth University Placements & Careers Service Employability Blog

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