What Capacity Have You Known the Applicant Answer

Title: What Capacity Have You Known the Applicant: A Comprehensive Guide


When assessing a candidate’s suitability for a job or educational opportunity, it is crucial to understand their capabilities and strengths. One common question that arises during this evaluation process is, “What capacity have you known the applicant?” This question aims to gather insights about the applicant’s skills, competencies, and work ethic from individuals who have had personal or professional relationships with them. In this article, we will explore the importance of this question and provide guidance on how to answer it effectively. Additionally, a frequently asked questions (FAQs) section will address common concerns related to this topic.

Understanding the Question:

The question, “What capacity have you known the applicant?” seeks to gather information about the nature of the relationship between the person answering the question and the applicant. It aims to determine the level of exposure, duration, and depth of interaction between the two parties. This information aids in evaluating the reliability and credibility of the feedback provided.

Importance of the Question:

1. Assessing Skills and Abilities: By understanding the capacity in which an individual has known the applicant, it becomes easier to evaluate their proficiency in specific areas. For example, a former colleague may provide insights into the applicant’s teamwork skills, while a professor may comment on their academic abilities.

2. Assessing Work Ethic: Different capacities provide unique perspectives on an applicant’s work ethic. A supervisor may highlight their ability to meet deadlines and handle pressure, while a mentor may speak about their dedication and willingness to learn.

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3. Evaluating Compatibility: Knowing the capacity in which someone knows the applicant helps in assessing the relevance of their feedback. For instance, if a referee knows the applicant in a personal capacity, their insights may be more subjective compared to someone who has known them in a professional capacity.

Answering the Question Effectively:

1. Identify the Relationship: Begin by stating your relationship with the applicant, such as a supervisor, professor, mentor, or colleague.

2. Specify the Duration: Mention the duration of your association with the applicant, whether it was a short-term project, a semester-long course, or a long-standing professional relationship.

3. Highlight the Context: Describe the setting in which you interacted with the applicant. For example, if you were their supervisor, mention the specific role or project you supervised them on.

4. Discuss the Applicant’s Skills and Qualities: Provide a comprehensive assessment of the applicant’s skills, competencies, and personal qualities. Use specific examples to support your claims and highlight their strengths.

5. Offer Constructive Criticism: If applicable, include areas where the applicant may need improvement, but ensure that the criticism is constructive and balanced.


1. What if I have known the applicant in multiple capacities?

If you have known the applicant in different capacities, it is advisable to focus on the capacity that is most relevant to the opportunity at hand. Choose the role or relationship that allows you to provide the most comprehensive and meaningful insights.

2. Can I answer the question if I have only known the applicant briefly?

Yes, even brief interactions can provide valuable insights. Be sure to mention the duration of your acquaintance and focus on specific observations or experiences during that time.

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3. Should I provide solely positive feedback?

While it is essential to highlight the applicant’s strengths, it is equally important to offer an honest and balanced assessment. Constructive criticism can provide a more well-rounded evaluation and demonstrate your credibility as a referee.


The question, “What capacity have you known the applicant?” plays a vital role in evaluating a candidate’s suitability for a job or educational opportunity. By understanding the nature of the relationship between the referee and the applicant, it becomes easier to assess their skills, competencies, and work ethic. When answering this question, it is crucial to provide specific examples, highlight strengths, and offer constructive criticism when necessary. Remember, your insights can significantly impact the decision-making process and help determine the applicant’s future prospects.

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