In the above examples, two questions have word limits, one has no word limit. Word limits could be quite high e.g. 500 words – if you only write 100 words it may appear that you are not interested in providing detail and therefore not genuinely interested in the role/employer.
On the other hand, with a low limit like 250 words, you may wish to re-use a longer example from another form, it could take some time to reduce the length and get the wording right.
Should I use work experience or study projects in my examples?
If you have recently completed your education and only worked in part-time role not directly linked to your field, you may only want to use university/college examples as they feel more relevant to the area of work the employer does. This may be fine, and the form may also ask you to use a specific example such as a group project. On the other hand, employers are often keen to see examples of how you perform in the workplace and, even if the role is outside the field you are entering, examples from any job can give a good illustration of your work ethic, how you deal with difficult people, customers, time management and taking responsibility.
Therefore, it is often good to bring in such experience as well as sports, voluntary work, community projects, societies, professional bodies etc. The more varied and interesting your examples, the more you will stand out from other candidates.
Mature candidates should see this in the same way. You may have recently retrained for a new profession but highlighting transferable skills from a previous career can show employers you can deal with difficult situations, work pressure or complex projects.
Online application form questions are closely linked to the types of questions you will be asked at the interview stage. Therefore, think about using examples which would make for an interesting discussion at interview, such as activities you have done which stand out from the rest. You need to stand out from the crowd and incite the employer’s curiosity. It is why drawing from a range of experiences, from study to work, to extra-curricular activities, sports, voluntary and community work can make you a more interesting candidate who is worth interviewing.