Job Application Basics: Common Questions to be Prepared to Answer

Answering Questions on a Job Application

When hiring for a new or open position, employers use applications to find the right candidate for the job. As a job seeker, you might fill out a stack of forms before getting any phone calls or feedback. If you want a chance at an interview, begin with making a good impression with your application.

Filling out an application is just as important as preparing for the interview. It helps you avoid overlooking important details that could make or break your chance at an offer. Being aware of typical job application questions can reduce nervousness, improve your confidence, and get to know exactly what the company likes in an employee.

Different Types of Job Applications

The questions you encounter depend on the position you apply for and how the company asks you to apply. You might write on a traditional paper form that you pick up on the job site. Or, you may use a corporation’s online portal, download the file and complete it using a PDF software.

Some places, such as restaurants or shopping malls, have large seasonal hiring events. These stores often hold a sequence of meet-and-greets on location. Job seekers fill out an application and participate in an interview either alone or with a group. This can make it easier to find a job during the holidays.

Virtually every business asks potential hires to complete an application. Most professions that require prior experience or a certain level of education ask for a detailed resume. Occasionally, you need to attach a cover letter.

Job Application vs. Resume

There are several differences between a job application and a resume. The application lays out basic information about you, your availability and a general overview of the skills you possess. It may have a place for you to list experience or education and tends to be in a standardized format.

Resumes are more in-depth, containing details about yourself, your abilities, and experiences. Creating a resume is also an opportunity to show how unique you are. You can choose the layout and alter the information according to the job you want. Your resume highlights the skills you have to offer the company as a future employee.

Supporting Documents

If you apply to a posting in industries such as health and medicine or over-the-road trucking, you need to have specific licensure to legally hold that occupation. Depending on the position, a business might ask you to provide additional information or documents. These typically include:

  • Writing samples
  • Proof of license
  • Copy of a certification
  • Educational transcripts
  • Portfolio
  • List of references, both professional and character
  • Veteran’s Preference documents, such as DD-214 or Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty

How to Prepare

One way you can prepare to answer common application questions is by filling out a practice form. You can use a copy from the company you want to work at or download a sample application from our site. Create a list of information from your last job including things like supervisor information, responsibilities, and your start and end dates.

When uploading documents to a job portal, have your resume and any other supplemental material ready on your desktop. A list of professional and character references can also come in handy. Always remember to ask any references beforehand if it is all right for you to use their name or contact information.

List of Questions Asked on a Job Application

Common application questions begin with your contact information. This includes your name, address, phone number and email. Then, fill out what position you desire and what pay or salary you wish to have. Some other questions are:

  • What shift and how many hours can you work per week?
  • Do you have reliable transportation?
  • What is your education level, including your degree, major, important courses, certifications, and grades?
  • Have you done any volunteering?
  • Do you have any extracurriculars?
  • Were you in the military?
  • How did you learn about the job?
  • Do you know any current employees?
  • What previous jobs did you have and what were your duties?
  • What is the reason you left your last place of work?
  • Are you a citizen of the United States?
  • Are you authorized to work in the United States?
  • Are you available for seasonal work?
  • Have you ever been charged with a crime or felony?

In addition to these questions, an employer may ask you for your social security number. If you feel unsafe writing this down, you can always request on the form that you would rather give that information after an offer of employment.

Other Tips for Answering Questions on a Job Application

Read the Instructions

When answering job application questions, follow the instructions. Read each section prior to completing it, write legibly, and use proper grammar. How you choose to fill out the form reflects your work ethic and how serious you are about the job. Be diligent and answer every question to the fullest extent.

Experience Matters

When asked to list any work experience, use only the skills that prove to the employer you are capable of filling that position. This might involve projects you led or how successful you are in sales. If you lack relevant experience, check out our blog post on other ways to present your experience in the field.

Be an Individual

A good job application sets you apart from other prospects applying for that same post. Tailoring your answers to fit what a business wants makes you appear most qualified for the job. Regardless, you should always be truthful. By providing relevant and detailed information, you raise your chances of receiving a call back for an interview.

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