Business Category Business: career motivation and tips to move ahead

How to answer online job application questions

All job applications are designed to screen people out. Because of the nature of the questions, an application creates a barrier between the individual and the employer.

In a large company, there may be hundreds of applications turned in for each job opening. The rules for completing online applications are similar to those for completing standard applications.

Gather all of your work and education history. Have your resume or a master job application on hand, so you can quickly and effectively answer the questions. You should also have your social security number and driver's license number handy, if driving is required for the position.

Read all the instructions carefully before you begin. Some employers give instructions before beginning that can make the process of online applications easier to complete.

Check to see if the process allows you to complete the application in stages before you get started. This helps to know how much time you should budget to complete the process. Creating user names and passwords are often part of completing an online application; be sure to write this information down for use in the future. Keep in mind that many online applications must be completed in one sitting.

Answer "no" in almost all cases where a question is asked regarding any disabilities (physical or emotional) that you may have. It is not any of the employer's business unless the disability would prevent you from doing the job safely.

When asked why you left your last job, give the reason---and make it sound positive. List something neutral such as "returned to school" or "decided on a career change." Even if you were fired from a past job, writing "willing to discuss in interview" gives you the opportunity to explain the circumstances leading to being fired and what you have been learnt from that experience.

Do not specify a pay rate if asked. Write "open for discussion" or "negotiable" instead. This approach may help avoid being screened out because of the employer's expectation of an acceptable salary. If the answer is required to move on through the rest of the application, do your research well, and give a range if you can.

When filling in what position you desire with the company, list a broad career field. An example would be to list "general office" rather than a specific title, such as "receptionist." Titles and responsibilities can be very different from place to place, and by keeping the title of the position broad you may be considered for more than one position.

Answer with care if you are asked about your criminal background. According to the law, employers may only ask if you have ever been convicted of a serious crime, such as a felony. Employers may also ask about crimes that affect one's ability to do the job. If you were ever arrested, but not convicted of a crime, say "no" on the application.


Some online applications will give you the chance to review the application before submitting it, but be sure to check the information for accuracy and spelling regardless. When an application is filled out online, the employer is made aware of computer skills the applicant possesses. Printing, saving, copying and pasting information may be part of the process.

Things Needed

  • Computer with Internet access
  • Resume and/or work history