Careers and Employability Service

The most difficult application forms …


… are those designed for the jobs which are most difficult to get into – the highly popular and competitive career areas such as advertising and the media, or work with blue-chip multinational companies. These areas normally also require outstanding written and verbal communication skills, which may be tested to the limit by the form!

Here are a few questions of the type you might find on such forms:

  • If you had to do without one of either books, films or music for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why? (Advertising agency)
  • What is the best thing about being a kid? (Advertising agency)
  • If you were to be found on a supermarket shelf, what would you be and why? (Advertising agency)
  • If you could be any superhero, who would it be? (AT&T)
  • Your idea of you. Send us a “visual” simile of yourself and explain how this demonstrates what you will contribute to us. (Advertising agency)
  • Imagine that you've heard that ITV bosses want to do a game show with a Wild West theme on Friday nights at 7.30 pm. In not more than 50 words, what’s the idea you come up with? (TV company)
  • Why do you stand out from other applicants? (Airline)
  • If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be? (Food company)
  • What would be your perfect night out? (be honest!!) (IT consultancy)
  • The law you would pass if you were Prime Minister for the day. (IT consultancy)
  • Imagine I'm an alien from Mars who's just landed. Succinctly describe Britain's transport system.
  • Name five uses for the colour red (Engineering firm)
  • Why have I asked you this (see above) question? (Engineering firm)
  • What did you dream about last night (Telephone interview)
  • Why has it taken you so long to find a graduate level job? (Finance company)
  • Choose one thing from the list below and tell us why we should want it.
    • a hangover
    • an umbrella with holes in it
    • a pack of 2,000 drawing pins
    • a £5 note


We are not offering any ideas for how to answer these questions: if you have the potential to succeed in these highly-competitive areas you will have the originality and initiative to think of your own! But just a few tips – be different, make it fun to read and, although you should always keep the job description/person specification in mind, don’t just try and give the employer what you think they want to hear.

Remember that these questions are read in conjunction with the rest of your application form – so your achievements in life are going to be equally important. The whole form must be outstanding.

When answering questions like these, you should always keep in mind the personal qualities that will be needed to perform well in the job. Try the following example:

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

picture of meerkatsMEERKAT

Famous for its teamworking abilities and alertness. A good one for jobs where co-operation and attention to detail are paramount and leadership or initiative less important - but such jobs may not ask for abilities like this!




King of the Jungle. Strong and fearless: a leader but also a pack animal. Good qualities for many jobs, but perhaps a little obvious? What about other animals with these qualities: wolf, elephant, gorilla ….?



RABBITbird flying

A hedonistic lifestyle of food and sex is only marred by always having to be on the alert for rabbit-eating predators. Not much in the way of personal skills: looking cute is not enough.




Creative and practical: produces endless variations on its song and manufactures intricately-woven nests from scraps of grass. May be right for “artistic” jobs that offer scope for independence and taking responsibility for your own work.



Highly intelligent, co-operative, helpful, fun-loving. Would fit in with employers who stress their “work hard, play hard” culture and who value teamwork.



Intelligent, resourceful, adaptable and doesn’t care whether or not it is liked. May be better for jobs requiring backroom, problem-solving skills than high-level social skills. You would be a brave candidate to use this example (especially if you are applying to a law firm ..) but a well-argued case for it could impress. Animals with similar qualities but a cuddlier image could include grey squirrels or foxes.


QUOKKAPicture of a Quokka

Intelligent, sociable, co-operative, with leadership potential. All fine qualities and ones which would meet most employer profiles. You will gain points for originality but may be put down as a clever-dick for coming up with a creature even David Attenborough has probably never heard of (it’s a small Australian marsupial).






Careers and Employability Service - © University of Kent

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7ND, T: +44 (0)1227 764000 ext. 3299

Last Updated: 11/09/2017