How to Answer Four Common Job Application Sections

Most application questions are pretty straightforward, but there are a few boxes where your answers might make the difference between your application moving forward or getting tossed out.  Below are some tips for how to navigate the trickier application sections:

Position applying for:

Don’t put “any” or “all,” as this shows an employer that you’re just in need of a job and don’t really care about the work you’ll be doing.
Do look at the company’s website, or a site like Indeed or Monster, to see what positions might be open, and what the exact job title would be. Don’t add positions that you know you aren’t qualified for in the hopes of getting a call back.

List any skills or abilities relevant to the position:

Don’t leave it blank, but also don’t list something completely unrelated, like your bowling score.
Do pull up the job description online and look for the necessary qualifications for the position.  Your answer should match this language as closely as possible.  For example, if one of the duties is collaborating with a team, you should list “collaboration” or “team player” as your skills.  Also be sure to list any skills you’ve been trained, tested, and certified in, such as typing speed or CPR training.

Required salary:

Don’t skip this question or guess at a number.  Some hiring managers are fine if you put “negotiable,” but others take that as an indication that you’re not sure what you’re worth, or what the job might entail.
Do use an online tool like or to find the typical salary range for that job title and location.  Then, narrow it to a range that you feel best fits you.  If you have more experience or education than the typical candidate, put in numbers on the higher side.  If you’re new to the industry, make your range on the lower side.  This will give the employer some room to consider their budget, but it shows you know your stuff!

Reason for leaving last position:

Don’t say anything negative about your previous employer, or lie about being fired or laid-off
Do keep it positive and brief.  Generally, an answer such as, “pursuing new opportunities” or “looking for ways to grow professionally” are diplomatic responses.  For lay-offs, most hiring managers won’t see “my position was eliminated due to downsizing” as a negative.  If you were fired, write something brief like “It became apparent after starting that my skills were not the right fit for the position, and I was let go. I took this as a chance to grow professionally and explore new opportunities.”  Never place the blame solely on yourself or solely on the employer.
For more tips on filling out a winning job application, check out this great tutorial at