WIP17 - Applicant Feedback

Each year WIP is privileged to receive hundreds of high quality applications – many more then we can actually call for interview.

This year was no different, and we were deeply impressed by the leadership experiences and record of community service by those who applied.

As there are over 300 candidates not being invited to interview, we simply cannot provide participants with individual feedback at this stage. But we are very conscious of the effort that you have made in submitting your application – so our reviewers have reflected on the applications overall and have some general comments on common application trends below.

When reviewing the feedback consider that a large number of applications were within a few points of being shortlisted – and improving one or two answers would have made a difference. We hope this feedback is helpful for you when you approach other selection processes in the future.

If you are still eligible next year, we hope you will look at the our program and consider applying again.

Best Wishes
Bryan Patten

Application feedback.

Some overall principles:

  • If you have a passion for something, spend your time on it. Your service should reflect your passion.
  • If you waste words quoting others, you miss the chance to write something of your own that someone else might want to quote.
  • Have someone read your application. If they think it doesn’t sound like you, rewrite it.
  • Working as a waiter/waitress or as a store clerk is technically in the service industry but is not the kind of service the application refers to.
  • Use your words wisely. Don’t waste them with jokes or unnecessary items and use them all!
  • Remember your audience is diverse – not all Irish or British. Does what you say make any sense to an outsider?
  • It’s not the problem or issue you face, it’s how you handled it. The more dramatic the issue is does not equal more credit on the answer.

Answer all parts of the question
Answering each part of the question was important to receiving a high score. We did not ask any trick questions. Answers needed to address each aspect of the question with balance between the various parts.

This was particularly true in Q7 on the issue of Brexit – where many candidates provided detailed analysis drawn from others (on the border, economy etc) but didn’t outline their own opinion.

Reflect on your experience/example
While your example was important, it did not speak for itself. We wanted you to reflect on the significance of those experiences – share why they were meaningful to you, and how they illustrated the point you were making.

Numerous candidates outlined significant experiences in their resumes/cvs – but never drew on them further in their essay answers. They often hinted at achievements that could not to be scored outside of the resumes themselves.

Pick your examples carefully
When examples were drawn, they were best used when clearly showing a skill, experience or characteristic relevant to the question.

It was also important to use the examples to differentiate you from your peers. If the example was one that would be in common with many of your fellow applicants, your reflections needed to be of a very high standard to achieve a good score.

This was particularly seen in the questions around leadership failure – which was often taken from a university project or team.

Leadership and service resumes
We provided a clear example of the format for the resumes. Candidates who failed to follow that format (e.g. didn’t include number of hours of service, or dates) received lower scores as we didn’t have the information that we needed to properly asses the experience.

Consistency in the overall application
It was clear that some candidates had dedicated a significant amount of time and effort putting together their leadership and service resumes, but spent less time on the essay questions. Strong applications were consistent in quality, and had a common thread of commitment throughout.

Rushing meant lower application scores
Short/incomplete answers received lower scores. Strong applications used most or all of the scope of the word count to fully answer the questions that were asked.

Highlight your accomplishments, not the group’s accomplishments
The application is a chance to prove your potential to participate on the program, not the group or organization that you worked with to accomplish a goal. We wanted to hear about your role and contributions, and how this impacted you.

This was also true about your failures and improvement areas. One question was dedicated to when you didn’t succeed, but very few applicants identified failures that truly belonged to them.

Demonstrating commitment
WIP is searching for future leaders and influencers for Northern Ireland and Ireland – and to help us identify those individuals, we need to see your commitment to a cause/organization. Demonstrating a track record of either service or leadership was important to receiving a high score. We value quality and depth of experience as opposed to short term/one off examples of service and leadership.

It’s not about the content of the argument itself but how you handled it
When asked about a disagreement, it is helpful to provide some context about the disagreement. However the answer should not focus solely or mostly on the content of the disagreement, or detail your stance. While there are times where it might make sense to walk away from a disagreement with another person, we wanted to hear how you engaged that person during the disagreement. Did you ask questions about their opinion? How did you seek to understand their perspective? Do you have to win the argument in order to learn from the experience?

Similarly to the failure question, very few people were themselves unreasonable in the argument..

Consider Applying Again
Our selection process is not perfect. It is not a crystal ball for leadership potential.  It is just a fair evaluation of hundreds of applications. That applications does not represent all of you – they just show us a small part of your experiences and potential, through seven short questions.

If you are still eligible for WIP next year, and believe that it is a good fit for your skills, interests and experience, we would be delighted to hear from you again.

Thank you for taking the time to apply.

Re-imagining priorities and our community

Watch videos from our conference on US/Irish Relations

Follow WIP on Twitter