Hiring for a job opening can be a stressful process, especially in today’s market. Roughly 250 people apply to the average corporate position, so you need to make sure your hiring process is streamlined to narrow the applicant pool quickly and efficiently.
First, you need to create a strong job description that includes the following information:
- Name of position.
- Job type. Is it part-time or full-time?
- Job location. Where is your office? Is the position onsite, remote, or hybrid?
- Job requirements. What types of skills does the applicant need in order to be considered for the role (e.g., education, physical requirements, years of relevant experience, etc.)?
- Job expectations/responsibilities. What will the employee be expected to do on a daily basis?
- Salary range.
At the end of the job description, provide a clickable link or button for job candidates to access your company’s job application form and throw their hats in the ring.
Why is a proper job application form crucial?
Without a proper job application form — one that’s well organized and collects necessary information about candidates’ interest, skills, and background — you’ll waste a lot of time.
You’ll be forced to cull through scattered candidate data (work experience, job references, specific skill sets, etc.) and a seemingly endless list of applicants (most of whom are wrong for the position), resulting in a delayed (or ineffectual) hiring process. You’ll lose money too. After all, the longer it takes for you to find the right person, the less work you can take on.
Proper job application forms help keep the hiring process on track. Once job candidates complete and submit the application form, you’ll have immediate access to their information and can begin narrowing down your interview list.
Should you include a background check on your job application form?
The short answer? Yes.
Failed drug tests, internal retail thefts, and lies on resumes are more common than you’d think, so it’s important to do your due diligence and learn about your candidate’s history before getting too far into the hiring process. Background checks help protect your company’s assets and the safety of your existing employees.
That said, not every job requires an in-depth background check (unless you’re hiring for high-level government jobs or the like). Extensive background checks can be costly and time-consuming, so sometimes a simple one can do the trick and provide the information you need.
Typical background checks can cover a potential employee’s criminal record, employment verification (did they really work where they said they did?), and credit, including late payments and liens.
But if you work in healthcare or education, for example, you may want to consider more comprehensive background screenings like Office of Inspector General (OIG) background checks and sex offender registry checks .
Not only can these checks greatly impact your hiring process, but they can also help you avoid penalties and fees. In fact, if your applicant’s name shows up on the OIG background check, and you were unaware — that is, you never conducted this check — you could be found liable in negligent hiring lawsuits .
How to write a job application form
The best job application forms are professional and on brand (e.g., include your company’s logo at the top, company colors, etc.). They should also be convenient to access as well as clear, concise, and organized.
There should be a natural flow to job application forms (starting with the applicant’s name, for example), and there should never be a doubt as to what information you’re asking for or why you’re asking for it. (Pro tip: To prevent any form of discrimination lawsuit , avoid asking questions that would reveal an applicant’s age, race, disability, and religion.)
While job application forms vary from organization to organization and position to position, they often include many of the following fillable form fields.
You need to know the applicant’s basic contact information — like name, mailing address, phone number, and email address — so that you can follow up with them regarding the position.
Knowing when and where they graduated from high school, college, and/or graduate school can tell you if candidates are a) well qualified for the posted position and b) able to follow instructions.
Say, for instance, your job posting specifies that the position requires an MBA, but the applicant only graduated from high school. You can safely assume that they either didn’t read the description carefully enough or think they have what it takes to do the job effectively regardless.
While confidence is an admirable quality in any job prospect, it may not work in their favor in this case. Bottom line: This one form field can save you both time and stress in the hiring process and help you quickly identify potential fits.
Though a work history section is less critical for entry-level positions (it may be fairly light or full of less relevant positions), it’s essential for C-suite or managerial roles. Employment history form fields provide valuable insight into candidates’ prior job titles and responsibilities — including when they held them and for how long — so you can get a clearer understanding of whether they’ll be a good fit for your organization.
While it’s not necessary to include a field for professional references in your job application forms — especially for entry-level positions — it can be particularly helpful near the end of the hiring process.
If you’ve read and reread some of your candidates’ applications, resumes, and interview notes a million times and are struggling to pick one, contact their listed references. Asking their former colleagues a few questions about their skill set, work ethic, and work experience can ultimately help you make a hiring decision.
Place an “upload resume” and/or “upload cover letter” button somewhere near the end of the job application form, typically right before the submit button. A resume gives you a firsthand look at a candidate’s organizational, spelling, and grammar skills as well as additional information about their work or education history you may not have captured otherwise.
At the very end of the job application form, it’s important to have a large, bold, clickable “submit” or “send application” button. Once the applicant hits that button, they’ll know their application is on its way to you.
These three honorable mentions have a place in job application forms but are by no means necessary:
Job skills and training
Though many employers combine “Job skills and training” with “Work history,” this can serve as a standalone section or subsection if you’d like your candidate to note any specialized skills or certifications.
Including an availability section in your job application form — especially if you work in the hospitality, retail, or food service industries — can be especially helpful if you have a sizable stack of applications. If you need primarily nights and weekends covered, for example, but an applicant can only work days, they’re probably not worth bringing in for an interview, no matter how impressive their application is.
How were you referred to us?
By learning how a prospective employee came across your job posting (newspaper, Twitter, Facebook, word of mouth, etc.), you can identify which advertising channels you should use more in the future, whether for other job listings or marketing campaigns.
Which questions should you ask in an interview?
For most workplaces, though the hiring process begins with job application forms, it doesn’t end with them. Once hiring managers review job application forms and find candidates they’re interested in, the next step is to schedule and conduct interviews.
Like job application forms, interview questions vary by company, position, and even interview phase. What you’ll ask candidates during the first round of interviews will likely differ from a final interview as questions become more niche and your pool of prospects shrinks.
That said, these 10 interview questions are common in most first-round interviews:
- Why do you want to work for this company?
- Why are you the right person for the role?
- Can you tell me about a time when you had a disagreement with a fellow colleague, boss, or customer? How did you handle it?
- Do you prefer working alone or on a team?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- What work accomplishment are you most proud of? Why? What steps did you take to get there?
- What are your greatest strengths?
- What are your biggest weaknesses?
- How do you deal with high-stress situations, like tight deadlines or an unhappy customer?
- Why are you leaving your current employer?
By asking the right questions — open-ended ones that go beyond the collected job application and resume data — you can get a better understanding of each candidate’s interest in the job, knowledge about your company, career habits and goals, and industry knowledge and skill set. Interviewing job applicants also helps you determine whether they would fit well in both the role and the overall organization.
What are some examples of job application forms?
Now that you know the ins and outs of job application forms — including why they’re important and what to include in them — let’s check out five starkly different use cases. This way, you can get a better idea of how to organize job application forms for your respective organization and industry to make them most effective.
Cleaning job application form
Not only does this cleaning job application form include many of the sections we referenced earlier — contact information, work history, and availability — it also has a “Your Cleaning Process” section. This section includes a picture of a dirty kitchen and asks the applicant how they would clean the room and which products they would use. It even asks an ethical question — “What would you do if there was a $20 bill laying on a table with no note?” — to help you better understand exactly who you’re hiring.
Babysitter application form
This babysitter application form — which includes four sections entitled “Personal Information,” “Contact Details,” “Education,” and “Work Experiences” — is exactly what you need to find a steady, reliable babysitter in your area.
Web developer/programmer application form
Hiring web programmers, software engineers, or other IT positions is no easy feat, especially if you work in HR or for some type of recruitment agency and aren’t especially tech savvy.
Luckily, this web developer/programmer application form has all the information you need to find the right person for the role, no matter your programming experience. In addition to collecting vital data like candidate contact information, work experience, availability, and salary expectations, this job application form also asks applicants what platforms, operating systems, and programming languages they use; helps you determine their computer skills; and collects a list of their current and recent projects, websites, and apps.
Truck driver application form
Truck drivers are not only responsible for delivering goods on time but also for operating heavy machinery safely. If not, they could endanger other motorists and pedestrians, in addition to being late with deliveries.
To help you learn more about your applicant’s work experience and whether you can rely on them, this truck driver application form includes questions like
- Have you had any accidents in the last five years?
- Has your license ever been suspended?
- Have you ever had a DUI?
This job application form also asks applicants about their license expiration dates (CDL, Hazmat, TWIC, etc.) and CDL endorsements to ensure everything is current.
Teacher application form
Similar to the above-mentioned truck driver application form, a teacher application form should include more in-depth questions regarding work experience and background information (like criminal investigations or abuse charges) to ensure you hire a quality candidate.
Though comprehensive, this form is easy to complete because of its mix of open- and close-ended questions and plenty of space for applicants to provide further details about their work history.