I find that people from North America tend to require them for school or job admission but I find them pretty useless myself. 1. Personal statement: will probably work like a job application's cover letter. Perhaps they want to read the applicant's writing skill; other than that I don't have a clue then. 2. Letter of recommendation: is awesome but really not nice since it doesn't take into account any slightest chance the applicant might already "fix" himself for better & better after leaving the previous employer. We always love to reach professionalism and perfectionism. 3. References: are similar to the second but far worse because it would act like a criminal record. There will be no second chance for life to begin or regrow.