Why you should include questions on job application forms
Application form questions help you better pre-screen job applicants and create more complete candidate profiles. Use them to:
- Narrow down your applicant pool based on skills and experience related to the role.
- Identify dealbreakers (through knockout questions) so you qualify candidates who match the role.
- Connect with truly qualified candidates who can provide you samples of work or explain how their experience relates to the role.
Questions generally follow these formats: yes-or-no; open-ended; multiple choice; and upload questions (e.g. uploading a work sample.) Avoid asking illegal interview questions on application forms or anytime within your hiring process.
Examples of job application form questions
Employment terms questions
- Are you interested in full-time employment, part-time or either?
- What days and times are you available to work during the week? or Are you available to work [mention working schedule or shifts, e.g. from Tuesday to Saturday 3pm to 11 pm]?
- When’s the earliest you can start working with us?
- If you’re currently working, how much notice do you need to give to your employer?
- What are your salary expectations?
- Are you eligible to work in X country?
- Are you willing to relocate? If so, when would you be available?
- This is a remote position. Do you have access to (e.g. a computer, Internet connection and a private space) to work remotely?
- Are you available/willing to travel X% of the time?
- Are you willing to undertake a drug test as part of this hiring process?
- Are you willing to undergo a background check as part of this hiring process?
Candidates’ skills and qualifications questions
- Do you have experience using X software for Y purposes?
- List all software you have used that’s related to this position.
- Are you able to communicate (orally and in writing) in X language at a native level?
- Do you have a valid driver’s licence?
- Mention two or three projects you have worked on that are relevant to this position.
- Can you provide a sample of your work? (e.g. link to an online portfolio or upload an attachment)
Cultural fit questions
- Why did you apply for this position?
- Why would you like to work with our company?
- How does this position fit in with your long-term goals?
- How did you learn about this job?
- Please list three references and their contact information.
Mini-tests that assess specific skills
Application form questions can also provide you an opportunity to review skills for certain roles. For example, if you’re hiring:
- Editors, ask them to edit a short piece of text.
- Engineers, ask them to debug a piece of code.
- Translators, ask them to translate a paragraph.
Keep in mind, these tests won’t fully represent applicants’ skills, as in some cases it might be easy to search online for the correct answer or seek help offline. Combine these mini-tests with pre-employment assessments later on in your hiring process to get a fuller view of candidate qualifications.
Tips on how to evaluate candidates’ answers in job application form questions
- Use them to ask more detailed questions later. Application form questions are good starting points for your phone or in-person interviews. For example, ask candidates to describe their past projects in detail, or elaborate on career goals they list in the job application.
- Determine which criteria are dealbreakers and which are negotiable. For example, instantly disqualify a candidate who doesn’t have a valid driver’s licence if it’s mandatory for the role, but keep someone on your “maybe” list if their salary expectations are only slightly higher than the compensation package you offer.
- Focus on things that matter. For example, ask whether applicants hold a specific certification only if it’s a must-have for their role (e.g. for accountants, instructors or healthcare workers.)
Red flags in applicant answers
When evaluating application form answers, consider raising a red flag for candidates if:
- They lack key requirements. While you can – and should – train new employees through good onboarding practices, there are mandatory prerequisite skills for most positions. For example, if you’re looking to hire someone who can translate documents from English into Russian, disqualify candidates who aren’t fluent in both at a native level.
- Their salary expectations are significantly higher than what you can offer. You might be able to negotiate with candidates whose salary expectations are slightly higher than what you can offer. But, if the variation is too high, it makes sense to disqualify the candidate.
- They’re inflexible with their work schedule. Positions in certain industries may require working in shifts (e.g. retail.) These employees need to be available during weekends and holidays and may be called upon to take on colleagues’ shifts as needed. If applicants indicate they are inflexible around their working days and hours, they might not be a good match for these roles.
- They don’t respond to all questions. Candidates who leave fields blank in your application form indicate they mightn’t really be interested in the role. Or, they might not have the answers you’re looking for (e.g. they lack knowledge in X software.) Decide whether you’ll automatically disqualify them or you will ask for clarifications, based on their entire application form and their resume/cover letter.
You can use Workable to easily create an effective application form as part of the hiring process. Start a 15-day free trial today.