When approaching your employment application design, it can be helpful to divide questions into two categories: standard and job-specific. Standard questions are asked of all applicants, regardless of the job selected. Whereas, different sets of job-specific screening questions are presented to candidates based on the jobs to which they choose to apply. In this post, I will discuss the standard questions.
Standard Questions | Employment Application
First off, it’s always a good idea to have in-house counsel or your employment attorney review your employment application to ensure its compliance with local, state and federal restrictions on permissible questions. For example, some states and municipalities have introduced laws that impact whether you can ask about criminal (“ban the box”) and/or salary history. If you employ individuals in more than one state, you may need to have different application versions for different states.
Your attorney can also advise you on whether you need to heed any industry-specific requirements, or include voluntary self-disclosure sections for applicants related to Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Planning reporting requirements.
Aside from collecting information about previous employment and education, here are some specific questions to capture other “need-to-know” details at this early stage in the employment screening process.
Have you applied here previously? If so, when?
Are you over 18 years old?
Are you eligible to work in the U.S.?
Will you require relocation assistance?
If hired, do you have reliable transportation to and from work each day?
Do you have a valid driver’s license?
Are you willing to work across multiple locations (travel involved)?
If you are willing to relocate, please cite areas of preference.
How did you hear about this position? If employee referral, who?
What days and hours are you available to work?
What is the highest level of education you have?
Do you require or will you require a work authorization?
Are there any legal barriers that would prevent you from obtaining a level one fingerprint clearance card?
Essay Question Ideas
Remember to be selective with the number of text box questions you ask–too many and your potential applicants will abandon the process. Consider whether applicants can auto-populate resume data from LinkedIn or Indeed to save time on application completion when considering your question length and total volume of questions. If available, investigate analytics for your recruiting software to discover your application abandonment rate as well as the number of applicants who complete submissions from mobile devices, too.
What can your manager do to help you be successful?
Tell me about the best supervisor you have ever had and why they were the best. No names please.
What traits do you seek in an effective supervisor?
Think of the worst boss you ever had. Why didn’t you care for his or her management style?
What is your primary reason for wanting to change jobs?
Do you work better alone or on a team?
Describe a time when you were disappointed at work. How did you handle it?
What part of your current or most recent role do/did you enjoy the most?
Why should our organization hire you?
Why do you want to work at [INSERT ORG. NAME HERE]?
What are some of the things you value most from an employer?
What factors do you consider the most important to you in your next job?
What did you like the most and the least about your most recent position?
Describe in detail the one or two accomplishments for which you have the most passion.
Give me an example how you have acted with [INSERT VALUE/TRAIT HERE] at one of your previous jobs?
The questions that work for your organization will of course depend on the requirements of the position. Include as many required multiple-choice or yes/no drop-down boxes as possible to vet candidates consistently and save time on initial screening.