In this blog post, we go over the advantages and disadvantages of application forms for both recruiters and applicants.

How to find the best candidates for your job vacancies?

When hiring, it’s important to think about how candidates will apply for your job advert. From online job applications, CVs and cover letters. Each of these job application methods will have advantages and disadvantages. Today, we will be looking specifically at the use of application forms. 

Job application forms are often used in recruitment with the advantage of streamlining the hiring process and making the comparison between candidates easier.

What is a job application form?

A job application form is an official, non-biased document that requires candidates to answer a specific set of questions in the first stage of the recruitment process. An application form is usually submitted along with a cover letter and a CV. Recruiters will request this prior to an in-person interview or video interview. 

Types of Job Applications

Online job applications

Typically, online job applications are advertised and accessible via the company website.  They can also be available via a weblink in a job posting. 

Paper job applications

Some applications are paper-based. They can be printed out from an online source and sent to the recruiter in the mail- however, this type of job application is dying out as the convenience of online application forms makes the process much simpler.

Email job applications

Less common, but sometimes used. Email job applications are where a recruiter will have a set form available to fill out on their website for applicants to fill out and send as an attachment to a hiring manager email address.

What does a job application form include?

A job application form includes a list of structures questions which will typically cover the following:

Personal data

Such as name, address, phone number, email address. A link can even be included to professional social media profiles.

Employment history

This should include company name, start and finish dates, position and typical job duties held in that role.

Educational background

This should include the name of educational institutions, location, the subject and area of degree(s), grade obtained and how many years attended in this school. 

References

This should include the name, contact information and position of any employment references.

Verification statement and signature

At the end of a job application form will be the verification statement. This is where candidates sign to verify to the recruiter that all the information provided in the job application is correct. This may also include signing the rights for recruiters to run a background check, permission for contacting references and in some cases drug testing.

Some job applications will also ask applications about their personal information, activities, and interests and even ask competency-based questions to add as an additional filter to those selected further into the recruitment process.

Some companies may even ask applicants what the reasons for applying are or a personal statement.

Why is a job application form important?

For recruiters:

A job application form is an important step to include in the recruitment process for a number of reasons. Most importantly is the benefit of speeding up the application process by weeding out unsuitable applicants and making comparisons between suitable applicants easier.

However, application forms don’t suit all types of job postings. They are primarily used for roles where there’ll be a high volume of applicants. These are more typical of roles in the public sector, education and mainly larger retail companies.

For candidates:

Candidates who are applying for roles can find many benefits in filling out application forms too. Mainly because it gives them a prime opportunity to make a great first impression to a recruiter.

Candidates who spend a lot of time researching the company and who can carefully align their personality, experiences, skills and education to the role in question will make their application far more appealing to a recruiter.

Advantages of application forms

We’ve briefly touched on some advantages of application forms already, but in this section of the post we will look in detail at the advantages of using application forms in the recruitment process.

Let’s take a look:

1.   Gain deeper candidate knowledge

Application forms allow recruiters to gain far deeper knowledge on applicants than you’d get from a CV or cover letter. Recruiters can ask specific questions on exact information they need to know for the role.

2.   Make applicant comparison easier

As well as being able to ask deeper questions, recruiters can make easy comparisons between applicants to know very early on in the selection process who goes through and who isn’t suitable for the role.

Recruiters can compare education, skills and experience between applicants. 

This saves an enormous amount of time and cost to the business as there’ll be no time and costs wasted on face-to face interviews.

3.   Recycle the application form

With minor tweaks and changes to apply to specific roles, the application form can act as a giant blueprint for screening candidates for future vacancies. There’ll be no time wasted per job advert trying to think of new questions to ask candidates.

4.   Background checks

A background check can be completed on applicants very early on in the recruitment process. It’s always better to run background and screening checks prior to inviting candidates in for interviews as it saves a high amount of time and energy if someone is unsuitable for the role.

Recruiters who run these checks in the last stage of the recruitment process will have wasted precious and valuable time arranging and interviewing candidates already if the checks come back unfavourably later in the recruitment process.

5.   Flexibility

One of the great things about an application form is you can choose what questions you want to ask. So for recruiters wanting to know more specifically about their experience and past employment then the questions can be more focused on this area.

Many recruiters like to ask competency-based questions on the application form too. These are questions that focus on past behaviour in roles that can relate to the new role in question.

We have more competency-based or otherwise known as behavioural-based interview questions here.

6.   Consistency

Application forms allow you to get unbiased insights into applicants as all applicants are answering the same set of questions. This allows recruits to judge all candidates on an equal playing field. 

7.   Save costs

With online application forms, recruiters can save a great amount of costs by filtering out unsuitable candidates early on in the recruitment process. Saving time and money spent on arranging and carrying out face-to- face interviews.

8.   Wider reach

Having an online application form expands the candidate pool, so the chances of a higher number of applicants is more likely.

Disadvantages of application forms

While we’ve listed many positives for using application forms, it doesn’t come without drawbacks.

For recruiters here are some disadvantages of using application forms:

1.   Time consuming to design

Creating a new job application form can be extremely time consuming and sometimes difficult to decide what questions are the best to ask.

2.   Costs

There can be hidden costs to producing and sending out application forms to applicants if recruiters choose not to post their application forms online.

3.   Off-putting to candidates

Some lengthy job application forms can be off putting to candidates making the candidate pool much smaller. But at least from this, you’ll get candidates who are more serious about the role.

4.   Much more paperwork!

With a high number of applicants, you’ll have an enormous amount of paperwork to filter through. This can take up a high amount of time.

5.   Quick to judge

Following from the above point, if you have a high amount of application forms to read through you’ll most likely skim read applicants answers and miss out important details or be quick to judge them.

6.   Increase of unqualified applicants

Online application forms give way to a wider pool of candidates, but this can often result in many more unqualified and unsuitable candidates applying for the role. This then adds a huge amount of time onto the selection process by needing to sort through each applicant.

7.   Unsuitable for creative roles

Roles which need creativity are constrained when using application forms. Applicants are limited in what they can demonstrate to recruiters when it comes to their unique creativity. Application firms stunt candidates from uploading portfolio pieces or audio samples that don’t fit into the application form format.

Tips for candidates applying for job applications

Candidates who are writing job application forms need to be able to sell themselves to stand out from the crowd.

Next we’ll highlight some important ways that applicants can achieve this within the structured and limited creativity of a job application form.

1.   Research the company

Recruiters will be looking primarily to see how candidates fit in the role in question. So candidates who are very serious about the role should do their homework and learn as much about the company as possible. They should look at sources not just from the company’s own website, but also from external news sources and their social media too.

Next, the candidate needs to be able to demonstrate that knowledge int heir application form answers where appropriate.

This will demonstrate to recruiters that the candidate is proactive, they’ve used their initiative and they are very keen for the job.

2.   Showcase skills, experience, qualifications and achievements

One of the great things about filling in a job application form is the lack of time restrictions. Candidates have the opportunity to answer each question perfectly without the stress and worry of trying to think on the spot.

It’s important to use each question to sell your related skills, experience, qualifications and achievements when applicable. Each answer should be tailored to the specific question and especially the new role.

A great starting point is to make a list of all the skills, experience, qualifications and achievements listed in the job posting along with any other information the recruiter is requiring.

Then candidates should make a list of all their own experience, skills, qualifications, personality traits and achievements that relate to the job posting.

With each answer, look to these lists and see how they can be tied into the answer appropriately.

When answering each question, reflect with questions such as, “how does this differentiate me from the competition?” or “Why does this make me a good candidate?”

3.   Organise your references

Candidates need to prepare at least two trustworthy references. These need to be individuals who are authoritative and willing to speak for the candidate. So candidates, make sure you advise your reference and ask them beforehand so they are prepared and expecting a call from your recruiter. 

Advantages and disadvantages of application forms

Remember, while there are many advantages and disadvantages of application forms when recruiting, make sure you use them for appropriate job roles and only if they suit the needs of your business.

For organisations, make sure you ask appropriate questions that are important to know for the role. When outlining your application form make a list of qualities, behaviours, skills and qualifications that you would require your ideal candidate to possess. This makes it easier to sort through if you have a large number of forms to look through.

For candidates, what you say and how you say it is important. While you need to list all your important and related qualities for the role, don’t waffle on. Stay on topic and keep your answers as concise as can be. With each answer use a real-life example to back your claim.

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