There are fewer things in this world that irritate me more than when someone can’t follow simple directions. For example, fill out the application (at the time after we’ve scheduled an interview of course – I wouldn’t want to enrage any of the candidate experience gods by asking for legal paperwork too early on when I should be offering a Frappa Mocha Someshit so that I can make them feel right at home.  (I kid, candidate experience is important. Just bear with me here.)

And yeah, maybe it’s a bit of my OCD, but when I ask for an employment application to be filled out, it’s not because I want to see a redundant version of your resume again. But recently, I had a candidate fill out basically his name address and signature, and absolutely nothing else.   Trust me, I get enough of those. But, there are several reasons that we ask for an application to be done at a certain point:

It’s legal

Yeah I know, more big government hassling you into giving them info to spy on you with. NO. It’s to make sure you fill it out and sign that you’ve put down information that is true to the best of your ability, and that if we find out you didn’t, we can terminate you. Before your lies get so big it cleans out our corporate account.

It shows me your attention to detail and ability to follow simple instructions.

You’re going to need to be able to handle multiple priorities and extract information during projects. I need to know that you can digest the basics of what is asked of you. If I ask you to complete a simple task, I don’t think that’s a lot to ask.

I need to make sure what you told me before jives with whats on the application

If you tell me you spent 5 years at your last company, and your resume says 3 and your application says 4.  And yes, I’m going to ask you about it. I’ve got a role in protecting my company from dishonest people.

It’s where we get reference information

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna check them yet. But when we get to the point of wanting to make you an offer, this just helps accelerate the process. This way, we don’t lose two days of you collecting and informing your references. You’re applying for a job. I hope that you have already lined up your references to tell them they may be contacted. But I get it - people don’t want to put other people’s names out there. But frankly Scarlet, I give a damn about wasting time hunting references when we’re trying to fill a position. 

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Comment by Keith D. Halperin on February 24, 2014 at 1:31pm

Thanks, Pete. You have 'em fill out applications before they get the offer?


Comment by Chadd Balbi on February 24, 2014 at 2:37pm

I understand your premise here, but companies are getting out of hands with applications. I once filled out an application that was the second coming of a High School SAT. 140 math questions and 100 verbal questions. Applications are getting out of hand. Personally I feel like people in HR and recruiting are hiding behind applications and trying to get the computer to do the vetting for them. 

Comment by Pete Radloff on February 24, 2014 at 4:19pm

Chadd, that might be the case and in some instances, I think there is value to knockout questions. 200+ questions seems excessive, and I wouldn't do that, so I feel the frustration there. At the end of the day, its info companies need to have, but there are ways to slim down that so its manageable to candidates. Thanks for commenting. 

Comment by Pete Radloff on February 24, 2014 at 4:20pm

@ Keith - I've been in places where it has worked differently. Never the same way twice, sadly. But usually right before they come in for an interview at my current consulting gig is how they do it. I think at that point, it's feasible to ask there - both parties see an interest, things are moving forward. 

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on February 24, 2014 at 5:11pm

Thanks, Pete. I've heard (anecdotally) that if you get past the 2 min mark in an online application, you get a dramatic drop-off in completion. Why should a real-time application take longer?



Comment by Pete Radloff on February 24, 2014 at 5:14pm

I agree, that the first initial application should include the core needs: Name email, phone, cover and resume, and anything absolutely critical - work authorization (for federal, though this is not my forte), so keeping it real simple. The regular application takes a bit more, as it asks more of the legal nuance, IMHO. But it should still be under 7-10 minutes to do, and shouldn't require a magna carta from the applicant. 

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on February 24, 2014 at 7:10pm

Thanks, Pete. IMHO, one is enough, and it  should be short. If you hire them, there's plenty of time for paperwork...

Comment by Pete Radloff on February 24, 2014 at 8:13pm

Agreed to a certain extent - but what about things like authorization to work in the US, need for a visa, checking validity of work tenures. We live in a litigious society, and people look for a reason to sue if they are fired. (Well, you didnt ask me to put in on a formal application, so how can you say i'm lying, etc.)?

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on February 25, 2014 at 12:50pm

Good points. I ask them these up front when I reach out to them (see below).

Verification can be done very quickly, easily, and affordably using a recruiting SW tool I've seen.

Finally, if you want them to DO more- gamify it. (Of course, most job seekers will jump through all sorts of hoops to get a job, so you don’t have to do this for most people, only theones who might have a choice of where they can work…)




1) Are you able to work fulltime in the United States without sponsorship?


2) What is your availability for (what days/times can you have a):

Phone interview:

Face-to-face interview:

Start Date:


3) Where are you in your career search (starting, interviews, offers)?

If you have an offer(s), how soon do you need to notify the offering

company(es) of your decision?

What are the terms of your offer(s)?


4) Why are you looking for new career opportunities?


5) What kind of compensation do you have? What kind of compensation do

you want?

Salary: $

Bonus: $

Stock Options


6) How far (miles/minutes) are you willing to commute to work?

What percentage of time are you able to travel outside the area?



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