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Reports, articles and plenty of good advice given to recruiters state that a simple application process is key to receiving more applications.

But how does this translate to an actual recruiting situation? In short, you can summarize a ‘simple application’ as having an application form that is quick and easy for candidates to fill out.

Complicated application forms result in fewer applicants

The application form exists so that the ones recruiting easily can collect and gain an overview of necessary information. The issue is that some candidates will stop in the middle of their application if the form is too extensive, doesn’t work well with a smartphone or is full of other irritating aspects.

Applicants often complain about:

  • The applicant misses to fill out a field in the form and hits ‘submit’. The application doesn’t go though, the entire page is reloaded and all form data is lost. The applicant is forced to fill out everything again.
  • Unnecessary questions. Why should I have to state which country I live in if I already provided my home address and ZIP-code?
  • That the application doesn’t work on a smartphone. More and more candidates apply though their phone or tablet.
  • Extensive application forms where all the data already provided in the resume needs to be written into separate form fields.
  • Mandatory questions border lining on being too personal or discriminatory. For examples questions about marital status, gender, family situation, age or disabilities. 

An hour in their shoes

When was the last time you applied for a job at your own company? If you make a habit of trying out the application form you will see the process with fresh eyes. To experience what it’s like applying for a job and having to decide how to answer mandatory and optional questions. An experience that unfortunately many recruiters forget.

  • Mandatory questions used for recruiting statistics – “Do I want to tell them my age, or do I run the risk of being rejected because they think I’m too old?”
  • Optional questions that applicants perceive as not so optional – “They are asking me to provide a picture of myself. I really should send them something, otherwise they may think I’m lazy.
  • Well-meaning questions asked to provide the proper support if the applicant is hired – “Dare I tell them I have dyslexia, or will that make them choose someone else?

Hint! A lot of questions are better saved for the interview. An applicant who is not put through to the next round after answering questions about their age in the application process may perceive themselves as having been discriminated against. Even if their answer did not influence the decision. Some questions are better saved for the interview where a candidate and recruiter can meet face to face, and where the candidate may feel more open and at liberty to talk about themselves.

Här har vi en tendens av att fastna och hänga upp oss på felsteget istället för att bortse från det och fokusera på alla de positiva aspekterna.

A slimmed down application form

Seen from the perspective of applicants, a better and easier application process means less questions in the application form. An absolute dream would be to just submit your name and contact information to have a shot!

Unfortunately, it’d create some issues for you as a recruiter who do need some basic information in order to weed out candidates. The balancing act is to create a form where as many applications as possible are submitted, at the same time as you get what you need to start recruiting. 

Therefore, you should run through the questions in your application form and see if there are any that can be omitted. The application process will be made easier for the candidate if he or she can provide more detail later on if the make the cut.

  • Selection questions are your friend! Without having to look at the resume you can check if the candidate meets the basic requirements.

  • Contact information like email address and phone number are needed to do a phone interview, but is it really necessary to know their home address? The applicant may be willing to move or commute.

  • Why do you need to know gender or age? Is the answer to this question interesting enough to (1) run the risk of missing out on applications, and (2) risk being seen as prejudice in your recruitments? If the purpose is to collect statistical data; make it clear that it doesn’t affect the selection process! It can also be good to provide the option “do not want to enter”.

  • To attach a lengthy resume or cover letter can be an obstacle. The applicant probably wants to rephrase their resume/letter in order to fit the position and will probably wait until later, forget about it and not apply at all. Catch them while they’re interested and let them submit a very basic application to get the process started. If you need a resume, ask them to provide it at a later date.

Simple application process

By simplifying the form and process you are also enhancing the candidate’s experience. If applicants can apply easily they are more likely to do so and it lowers the threshold for passive candidates, who are less likely to have an updated resume or cover letter to submit, to send in their application.

Remember!  A simpler application form means a lot more applications, and many hours manual sorting if you are recruiting without an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) or recruiting software. If you recruit with ReachMee you can easily prioritize between candidates and identify who is or isn’t qualified for the position.

To summarize, there is plenty of reason to do an overhaul of your applications by simplifying both application form and process:

  • Lower the threshold to apply
    • Few clicks to submit your applications
    • Save questions for later in the process
    • Review the need for resume and cover letter
      • Can you replace the resume with selection questions?
      • What does the cover letter add to the recruitment process?
  • Simplify the application form
    • Lessen the amount of questions and form fields
    • Remove repetitive or similar questions
    • Remove mandatory questions that can be perceived as sensitive
  • Make sure the application can be done though both tablet and smartphone
    • Attaching files
    • See, fill out and submitting form
    • Scroll-friendly form that isn’t too long