Competency-Based Application Form

Completing Competency-based Application Forms for Public Sector Job Applications…

Competency-based Application Forms for Public Sector

In the last 10-15 years now, public sector job openings have no longer required or requested a Resumé / Curriculum Vitae (CV) from interested candidates to apply for them. There are many reasons for this:

  • CV’s come in all shapes and sizes
  • Very difficult to see/find the relevant information
  • They make it difficult to ask the same questions from every candidate during the interview

So, they have introduced Competency-based Applications Forms, where they look for the usual information from a CV i.e. Education, Qualifications, Training and Work Experience AND they ask for specific examples against required competencies needed to deliver on the job’s duties and responsibilities such as Planning & Organising, Communication, Making Decisions, Providing a Quality Service, Teamwork, Leadership, People Management, Drive & Commitment for example. The former is used on whether or not to invite the candidate for an interview, while the latter is used on whether or not to offer the candidate the job.

Outlined below are guidelines to what and how the public sector want interested candidates to complete a Competency-Based Application Form taken from one of their recently advertised jobs on

A Competency-Based Application Form requires you, the candidate, to describe some of your personal achievements to-date that demonstrate certain competencies (necessary skills and qualities) required for the position you are applying for (e.g. Leader of Education and Learning, Leader of Centre Development, Communication Skills etc.).

A definition of a skill or quality is given for each competency. You are then asked to describe a situation, from your own experience, which you think is the best example of what YOU have done which demonstrates this skill or quality. It is essential that you describe how you demonstrated the skill or quality in question.

You are advised to structure what you write so that you give specific information about what you have done – for example, do not simply say that “X was successful”, describe exactly what you did and how you demonstrated the skill or quality in question.

For each example please include the following:

(a) the nature of the task, problem or objective;

(b) what you actually did and how you demonstrated the skill or quality (and, where      appropriate, the date you demonstrated it)

(c) the outcome or result of the situation and your estimate of the proportion of credit you can claim for the outcome.

Please do not use the same example to illustrate your answer to more than two skill areas.

Please note that, should you be called to interview, the board may look for additional examples of where you demonstrated the skills required for this post so you should think of a number of examples of where you demonstrated each of the skills.

Competency-based Application Forms for Public Sector


competency-based application form

Are Competency-based Application Forms making the CV Redundant?

Competency-based Application Forms

For many people who work in the public sector and want to ‘career or job’ progress through its various departments / sections or people who want to work in the public sector, the now new norm is to apply by completing a competency-based application form. Rarely nowadays is a CV requested. A Covering Letter i.e. an expression of interest may be requested, but the CV is simply not required, as the application form covers everything that the hiring managers need.

For many people who work in the private sector and want to ‘career or job’ progress in the organisation or people who want to work in the private sector, the norm is still to apply by developing a Cover Letter and a CV. The private sector has not yet embraced competency-based application forms, though there is a huge focus on competencies at interview stage, similar to the private sector.

One would have thought that by now the private sector would have embraced and designed competency-based application forms for their specific industry / departments. However, as the use of competencies in recruiting and selecting are over 20 years in existence now, it is unlikely that the private sector will use them now, like the public sector do.

Competency-based application forms have the following advantages over CV’s:

• Allows the applicant give actual examples of where they have used a key skill in the past that is relevant to the role on offer
• There is consistency in the application forms for the interviewers
• It allows the interview to be more structured

CV’s have the following advantages over competency-based application forms:

• Are never more that 2-3 pages in length, whereas competency-based application forms can be over 20 pages
• They can give the interviewer a quicker overview of the applicant
• It is easier for the applicant to apply for the role, as competency-based application forms can take days / weeks to complete.

Competency-based Interview

What I should invest in – The Competency-based Application Form or The Competency-based Interview?