Best Practices - The formula for the best application form

A great job description and application form will often be a candidate's first interaction with your company. The perfect application form will get you the information you need in a searchable format without putting too much work into the candidate.  

How do you achieve this magical sweet spot? Read on to learn!

In This Article

The Secret Formula

An application form should be thorough enough to effectively screen candidates - but not so long that candidates become frustrated with completing it.  Long, complicated application forms will not only frustrate candidates but also cause more work for your team to sift through the answers.

To combat this length issue, use the following formula:

  1. Key identification information: Your application form should always ask for details such as name, email, and phone
  2. Job critical items: This includes any necessary items for hiring in this role/industry, such as certifications, driver's licenses, location, etc. This doesn't have to be an exhaustive list -  only items that will be a "go/no go" for moving forward.
  3.  Resume: A resume is a great way to see a summary of a candidate's work and education history - but make sure you're only asking for this document if you plan to read it. Especially for entry-level roles, where work experience may be limited, a paragraph box asking for a summary of experience may be a great substitute. 
  4. One to two interest or thought-provoking questions: These questions are quick but require someone to pay attention while answering your application questions. This will help you weed out a large majority of candidates - as you'll be able to quickly see the people who took the time to write 1 - 2 well-crafted sentences to answer your questions and those who did not. What made you want to click apply for this role?  What interests you about X's industry/role?  What is your favorite thing about X's industry/role? You may mark these questions as "not required" to see who fills them out.

Here's an example of a practical application form that uses this formula:

Wait! What about the other questions I want to ask?

Once you've paired down your application form, you may be left with some additional questions you'd like to ask before hiring someone.  These are questions you don't necessarily need to ask every candidate.

The first thing to challenge yourself is to determine how you use each piece of information. If you can't identify a "why" for any of them, then you shouldn't be asking the candidates to fill them out.

Follow-up questionnaires are a great option once you know what other questions you need to ask. These allow you to send additional questions to candidates after applying to your roles.  The answers get stored right on their profile!

Here are some examples of when to use a follow-up questionnaire:

  • Additional information about certifications, testings, or specific job requirements.
  • An essay or long-answer questions to learn about experience or knowledge about specific topics
  • Culture or workplace-specific questions to gauge role and cultural add
  • A homework assignment based on a skill they'd need to use in the role

Questionnaires are a great way to gauge an applicant's interest in a position.  If you have additional questions that are an absolute must for the position but are worried about the application getting too long, include a questionnaire in the opening's automated email response.  This allows you to see who is genuinely interested in the position - and who may just be applying to every opening they can find!

To add a questionnaire to an auto-response email, click the question icon from the formatting bar.  Be sure to mention that you want them to fill it out in the text as well!  You can see we've attached the questionnaire called Homework in the screenshot below.

A good application form makes your job easier

Finding candidates once they've applied is a critical part of the process.  You take the time to build out the opening and application form - they take time to apply!  Now you have to take action on these candidates and find the exact ones you want to move forward with.  Here's a great tip: use your application form to make searching and screening candidates a cinch!

Example: You're hiring a pizza delivery driver, and they must have a driver's license.  On your application form, you set the question "Do you have a driver's license?" with the option for a single-line text.  You'll get answers like "Yes" or "No" - but also "yup, "suspended," "valid in California," etc.  This makes it difficult to screen out those who do not have a license.

Instead, you set the question as Applicants can choose one option from a list and add the options of "Yes" or "No."  Now when you go to view all active candidates, you can add a filter and select which candidates you want to view!

This isn't just limited to yes or no - you can ask what days of the week a candidate can work, what certifications they have, or even ask them to agree to specific terms before applying.  Then you can filter by these specific parameters!

Be sensitive to local regulations

Remember that application forms (especially in a global hiring environment) must be sensitive to the rules, regulations, and norms of the country your company is in and where your candidates are applying from.

For some countries, it is very typical to ask for a photo of the candidate as a part of the application process, and in other places, this would be frowned upon or even illegal. The same goes for asking the candidate to disclose salary and gender, disability, and other accommodation information.  Need to ask EEOC questions? Use the EEOC questionnaire instead of the application form.

If you need to ask about sensitive information such as salary, consider making these answers  private - so they're only visible to certain users of your account. 

Stay tuned to your company's industry, location, culture & candidate pool regulations.

Above all else - be clear

Be sure that your application form is thorough and precise.  For example, if you need the candidate to select multiple items or all that apply, mention that in the question.  If you need the resume in a specific format, mention this!  Remember, the candidate is interviewing you, too - a straightforward application form can make a big difference in their experience!

After creating your application form, have a colleague look at it to ensure everything is logical and makes sense.  They can complete the application, receive the auto-response, and then tell you about the experience.  This will ensure your candidates' experience is also off to a great start!

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