Guidance on making a good application

This guidance is primarily written to help those people who are unfamiliar with the University’s job application processes and are interested in applying for one of our Professional Service Staff roles. They are less relevant for those applying for academic or research roles, although may still be useful. 

At Oxford Brookes University, we aim to recruit the best person for the role, i.e. the person who most closely matches the skills and experience set out in the person specification, which is attached to the job description.

To reach the short-listing stage, you will need to demonstrate how you meet all of the essential criteria listed in the person specification. In addition, if we have a high number of strong applicants for a role, we may also use the desirable criteria for short-listing.

If you have a disability or a health condition and require alternative arrangements for your application or interview, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the People Directorate on 01865 485960 or

Please read this information carefully - making a good application is likely to improve your chances of success!

Deciding whether to apply for a job

  • Read the job description and person specification very carefully to decide whether you have the skills, knowledge and experience that we are looking for in key areas.
  • Look at the Brookes web site to find out more about the University, our faculties and directorates, as well as the benefits we offer to our staff.
  • Please download the job description when applying. You will not be able to view the job description once the post has closed. If you are invited to an interview we will attach the job description to your invitation.

Completing your application

  • All applications should be made via our e-Recruitment system. 
  • Check carefully which documents you need to submit.
    • Professional Services roles - complete the on-line application form and attach a supporting statement explaining how you meet the selection criteria and why you want this job. You must also upload your current CV to your application.  
    • Academic roles - complete the on-line application and attach your CV and publications list together with a supporting statement explaining how you meet the selection criteria and why you want this job. Please do not upload book chapters or journal articles, etc.
  • If you have a disability and require help applying and /or special arrangements for your interview, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the HR Directorate on 01865 485961, 01865 485960 or email:

Writing your supporting statement

  • The supporting statement is an essential part of your application.
  • Structure your supporting statement clearly. For example you may want to list each of the criteria in turn, and explain briefly how your skills and experience match these requirements.
  • Give evidence that you have the skills, knowledge and experience we want for the role. It is not sufficient just to say that you can do something – provide examples of things you have done which demonstrate your competency. By describing what you did, how you did it, why you did it and the impact this had you demonstrate to the short-listing panel that you understand what is required and that you are capable of doing it.
  • If you don’t have the exact experience asked for, be honest about this and explain how you think your other skills are relevant or how you would address the gap.
  • Feel free to use examples from unpaid work such as voluntary work or social activities, if relevant. This may be particularly useful if you are just starting out on your career and have limited work experience.
  • Use positive language and write your evidence in the first person (using ‘I’ rather than ‘we’). For example, "I developed a system to….", "I suggested that we….", "I presented the ideas to my manager", etc.
  • The STAR technique may be a useful way to structure the evidence in your supporting statement:
    • Situation - set the context of for your story
    • Task – describe what was required of you
    • Activity – describe what you actually did
    • Result – what was the result of your actions.
  • Explain any gaps in your employment history. We recognise that people have varied career patterns. For example, tell us if you took a career break for caring reasons or took a period of voluntary work or on pilgrimage, etc.

Checklist for writing a supporting statement

  1. Make sure you address all the selection criteria.
  2. Provide examples from your previous experience which give you plenty of opportunity to explain how you meet the requirements of the role.
  3. Use your own words to describe what you did so that you can show that you understand what is required rather than just repeating the words used in the description of the criteria.
  4. Check your grammar and spelling. You might want to ask a friend or relative to proof read your application.
  5. Give yourself to write and check all parts of your application before you submit it. Don’t leave it to the last minute as we cannot extend the deadline.

The interview

If you are successful at the shortlisting stage, we will invite you to an interview. In addition, you may be asked to give a presentation or ‘mini-teach’, or to complete a skills exercise depending on the nature of the role. We will always give you information about any selection test when we invite you for interview.

You are likely to be interviewed by a panel of three people. For more senior roles, there may be more than one interview and the panels may be larger.

At interview, you can expect to be asked a series of questions linked to the selection criteria. All candidates will be asked similar questions. For example, Tell me about a time when you (demonstrated a particular skills), "Give me an example of when you (demonstrated a particular skill)….."

Preparing for the interview

  • Re-read your application form.
  • Look at the selection criteria and think of examples you can use at the interview to demonstrate your skills and experience.
  • Be ready to explain why you want this particular job and what you can offer the University.
  • Think about any questions you would like to ask about the role, the department, the University. For example, what opportunities are there for staff development and career progression?
  • Make sure you have located any documents that you have been asked to bring to the interview, e.g. passport, to demonstrate proof of eligibility to work in the UK.
  • Decide what to wear. We would normally expect candidates to look reasonably smart, e.g. wearing a jacket or not necessarily a suit.
  • Check your travel arrangement so you arrive in good time, especially if you are relying on public transport.
  • Check whether you have been asked to do any selection tests or give a presentation, so you are well prepared.

At the interview

  • Take your time to answer the questions carefully. It is fine for you to take a moment to collect your thoughts before you answer. If you do not understand the question or your mind goes blank, ask the interviewer to repeat the question or ask for clarification.
  • Try to ensure that you fully answer the question but keep to the point. Remember, the panel will be looking for evidence in relation to the criteria in the person specification.
  • Remember to answer questions describing what you personally did – avoid starting your answers with “we”.
  • Normally, towards the end of the interview you will be invited to ask the panel any questions you may have. This is a good opportunity to show your interest in the role, team, University, and whether you would feel happy in the role.
  • Please remember to bring any documentation required with you, e.g. proof of eligibility to work in the UK, memory stick if making a presentation, etc.

After the interview

We do hope that you are successful at interview. However, we receive many applications, so not all candidates will be successful. It may just be that on this occasion there was another candidate whose skills were a better match for the job. If you are unsuccessful, you may ask the panel for feedback. The chair of the panel will be able to give you this over the telephone, or if you prefer they may be willing to email this to you. We hope you will find the feedback useful and that it may help you to improve future applications.

Thank you for your interest in this job. Good luck!