They Want What? Be Aware of Unusual Application Requests

by Kristy Amburgey

Throughout the application process, there are often surprise tasks, requests or questions that you must complete before you are granted an initial conversation, interview or even the job.  It is important to be aware that these steps in the application process actually exist and to be prepared to react to these requests.

Here is a short list of the requests that job seekers may encounter as they seek employment, some of which are rather common.  Some of these requests, though, are unexpected and require extra preparation.

  • Essay questions: although not too common, you may be asked to answer questions about you as a candidate, about your future goals with the company or about your career aspirations; your answers to essay questions can be used to evaluate you before a phone or in-person interview
  • Letters of recommendation: this request is most often seen when applying for co-ops/internships, fellowships or more entry-level positions; it is always a good idea to request letters of recommendation from faculty or employers before you leave school or the position, even if a letter is not needed at the time
  • Lists of references: many employers want you to provide three to five professional references; some employers also ask for personal references; additional reference requests may be for specific groups such as supervisors, professors, clients/vendors, etc.
  • Portfolios: a portfolio is typically used during an in-person interaction (interview, career fair), but some employers may want you to submit a collection of your work in one electronic or print format
  • Presentations: you may be given advanced notice so that you can prepare for your subject matter-specific presentation; for some positions, mostly in the sales industry, you may be expected to give impromptu pitches
  • Questionnaires or tests/examinations: testing is often used for civil service positions, but you may find companies asking you to complete personality, aptitude or cognitive tests
  • Social Security number requests: read About.com’s guide to social security requests
  • Statements of purpose: this type of essay is typically reserved for academia and is often a summary of your professional beliefs and goals
  • Transcripts: make note if the company requests official or unofficial transcripts; official transcripts typically are requested through the Records and Registration department of your school and may need to be mailed directly to a specific address, which takes time
  • Writing or research samples: depending on the position, you may be asked for specific accomplished works such as articles, research papers, theses or other samples

The most important application step, though, is to submit exactly what is requested in the exact format in the time-frame expected.  You must follow directions carefully and submit each and every item, but if you have questions about what to submit, clarify the information with the employer or bounce your ideas off a knowledgeable collaborator.

Most of the time, the application process is straightforward and known.  There are specific industries, companies and managers who want to see more in-depth material from you.  These application requests, used throughout the application and interview time-frames, can be surprising.  It is best that you be aware of these more unusual requests and be prepared to respond to anything that comes your way.

Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department.  She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years and with Career Services for nine years.

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  1. Job Search Scams | Going Places with Embry-Riddle Career Services

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