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How to make a training session on application forms fun or at least interactive?



I'm designing a workshop to support unemployed people best complete application forms.  It may be my mindset that application forms are dull and laborious that is hindering my progress but I'm struggling for ideas as to how I can make the session (3hours) interactive.

I have the content of what is required in an application form, competence based, scoring systems etc - have you any ideas for activities to lighten it up a bit?

All suggestions are gratefully received!!


4 Responses

  1. the biggest challenge is…..

    ……that no two organisations use the same form!

    I used to do this some years ago and I simply found one form that I reckoned was about average in terms of the detail of the questions asked and then I doctored it slightly to suit my needs and affixed a Job Spec that I created specially for the exercise.  I made up a detailed CV for a fictional character who I reckoned many of the delegates would be aware of, and then I got the group to complete the form for the fictional character concerned.

    The job spec and application form were for an officer of MI6 (you can probably get a real one nowadays, what with the Freedom of Information Act!) and the CV I used was made up for the character of the young Sgt Lewis of the Inspector Morse series (he permanently looked hacked off with his current job abd was clearly capable of more than Morse appreciated so it wasn’t unbelieveable that he might have the motivation).

    This was back when flipcharts were the norm and projectors were more likely to show acetate slides, so I had an A1 of the form which we filled in in plenary, discussing each answer before finalising the wording, but nowadays you could do it electronically.

    One of the values of this exercise (in general) is that it makes the point that you can’t go for a one-size-fits-all approach with completing application forms.  Given that an element of the assessment of your suitablility for the job will be put on how you complete the form, we also had the issue of whether the form was to be handwritten, colour of ink, or in the present day, submitted electronically.

    I hope this helps

    Rus Slater


  2. Workshop ideas

     Hi Colette,

    A few ideas off the top of my head 🙂

    – a matching game with the questions in one colour and the answers in another

    – have them interview one another and fill in the form for one another

    – ask them what they already know about filling in forms – any tips they would give others (helps build confidence that they know stuff, particularly helpful when unemployed)

    – a quick quiz to cover ‘dos and don’t’s’ of form filling with a small prize

    Hope these are helpful. A great resource I have found useful is ‘The Accelerated Learning Handbook’ – its full of ideas of ways to make learning more fun, including lots of real life examples.



    Nicola Tanner, Smart People Coaching

    [email protected]

  3. Unusual Skills?

     Hi Colette,

    I’m not sure where this post is going to finish as I start it so let’s see. When I have been in the postion of reviewing application forms, or CVs by the hundred, it’s been hard work. How do you identify that quality that sets the suitable candidates apart from the rest?

    CVs tend to be factory produced from best practice (learnt at school, university or some agency) and application forms force even more structured information. From my perspective, once you’ve ticked off the key skills and competencies the only differentiator you often have is some form of personal statement. Again these are too often written in a very specific way and you quickly get bored of reading about "A highly motivated individual with excellent communication skills, able to operate at all levels…" Yawn!

    So naturally you end up picking those that catch your eye. Wildcard applicants, those that perhaps don’t meet the full skill set but have colourful or interesting CVs, can often end up ideal candidates at the interview stage.

    Perhaps, to make this fun, you could encourage each participant to come up with some interest, hobby or skill that is out of the ordinary. I mean way out of the ordinary, perhaps something they have dreamed of doing, or just down right impossible. A statement like, "I am working toward becoming an astronaut" or "I am the World’s strongest person".

    Briefly go around the group and listen to each one, that could be fun, then as a group select the most outrageous statement and, using a whiteboard, talk about how you could actually word that so it didn’t sound like a joke. The point is the person that came up with it probably has some sort of association with that idea, peeling back the layers may open up some other interesting skill that could make them standout.

    As I said, I didn’t know where this was gong to finish when I started but there could be something useful for you there.

    Thanks and good luck,


  4. Idea for exercise around application forms

    Hi Colette

    Thinking about your post, it struck me that an exercise I use to help train Recruiters in screening application forms may apply in reverse, when training job applicants.

    The idea is to present a completed application form and for participants to identify a range of anomalies e.g. things that might come across as negative, odd or things that might prompt interviewers to probe at interview. The exercise I use has at least 20 anomalies. Download a copy from , entitled ‘Recruitment Interviewing; Application Screening with Answers’.

    It might just fit your need or give some food for thought.

    Hope that hejlps.


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