Watch Out for These Problems with your Application Questions

Custom application questionnaires are a great way to gather information to help make better decisions regarding your candidates. When used correctly, question forms can be an effective screening tool.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to overdo a questionnaire, which causes a bad candidate experience, and lowers your employer brand image. Avoid these common mistakes to make your application process both friendly and effective.

Don’t be too specific. If your system is set to filter out candidates who do not have the right keywords, make sure you are including synonyms, and be as inclusive as possible. A system can reject an overqualified applicant as easily as one who’s under qualified based on keyword filtering. For example, if you are looking for someone with “customer service” experience, don’t rule out those with
“customer support” or “client relations” experience.

Don’t make your max character requirement too low. There’s a good reason why employers limit the number of characters for an applicant’s written response: they want to see concise and clear writing, not lengthy dissertations. Our warning here is to be very aware of how much information you are asking for, and what a realistic answer should look like. There’s a very fine line between asking for too much information and wanting to receive concise answers. Having to overly edit and rewrite a response is frustrating and challenging to any applicant.

Provide enough options. If your questions are mandatory then it’s vital to ensure that there is an answer that fits every applicant. The simplest way to handle this is to include ‘n/a’ or ‘other’ as an option. An applicant who is unable to give the correct or appropriate answer to a multiple choice question may give up on their application altogether.

Don’t require too many questions. One of the most frustrating aspects of applying for jobs is how long it takes to submit an application for one position. Be an attractive employer by having a few meaningful questions instead of pages of forms to fill.

Avoid irrelevant questions. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all questionnaire. Different questions are required for different positions, skills and experience levels. Use questions that provide insight into the specific type of candidate you are looking for, not general questions which won’t give any job-related information.

Asking for information found in the resume. No one likes entering their information multiple times, and questions that ask for details typically found in a resume are given a special level of hate from job applicants. “Why do I have to give this information twice?” Put yourself in an applicant’s shoes, and see if your questions are truly gathering new insight, or are only causing aggravation.

One method to learn if your questionnaire is user-friendly is to simply apply to your own job. If you were a true job applicant, would your questionnaire be a pain-free process? Having to fill out each individual question may uncover the ones that are confusing, or unnecessary.