Building an Online Application Form

The Dos and Don’ts of Building an Effective Online Application Form

An embedded online application form can deliver a much more positive candidate experience than having to fill out paper-based forms.

As the entire application is completed within one handy portal, the online recruitment process is much more streamlined and is often quicker for candidates (especially if they are applying for their next role on the move).

However, there are some ground rules that you should follow when creating your online application forms; ignoring these could lead to candidates getting frustrated or even worse, abandoning the application process altogether.

As such, Webrecruit has compiled a list of ‘dos and don’ts’ when it comes to building an online application form for your vacancies:


Do select your question type carefully

“Do you have strong HTML, CSS, Java, PHP, MySQL, C#, .NET skills?”


While it might not look like there’s anything wrong with the above question, try putting yourself in the candidates’ shoes. What if you have half the skills listed but not the other half? If you select ‘Yes’, you could be accused of lying; however, if you select ‘no’, you’re underselling your abilities.

To avoid confusion, you should present questions similar to this as a multi-select checkbox list so candidates can select the skills they do have (and unselect the skills they don’t have).


Don’t overload candidates with questions

Including too many questions on your application form can be offputting to candidates, particularly if you’re asking them about things that they’re already covered on their CVs.

If your application form contains more than seven questions, you should seriously start to consider whether your questions are necessary. Just sit back and think, are the questions that you’re asking really that important or is this information that you could gauge from a CV?


Do use your questions as a screening tool

Application questions are a great way of filtering your candidates, particularly if you have a high volume of applications to process.

For vacancies that typically attract a large response, it’s useful to be able to quickly filter out anyone who doesn’t live within a commutable distance of the role’s location and who is unwilling to relocate, as well as anyone who doesn’t have the legal right to work in the country where the role is based.


Don’t overuse free text questions

While it might be tempting to ask candidates to go into detail about every single thing you’re asking them, including too many free text questions within your application can be dangerous.

Questions with a free text box take a much longer time to complete and candidates can become frustrated. Additionally, free text fields are much harder to complete on mobile devices, which is problematic when more and more candidates are searching for their next role on the move.


Do phrase your questions clearly and concisely

The whole purpose of your application form is to capture the information you need from candidates to assess whether they’re suitable for the role or not.

Try not to leave any room for misinterpretation within your application form; keep your questions as simple as possible to ensure you get the answers from candidates that you need.

Confusing candidates with your application questions could lead to an influx of queries or worse, candidates might think that you’re trying to catch them out.


Do keep the candidate experience at the forefront of your mind at all times

However you choose to build your application form, just remember to place the candidate experience at the heart of everything you do.

A poorly constructed application process can create a bad impression of your business and can suggest that you don’t particularly care about the candidate experience.


Are you considering overhauling your application process? An applicant tracking system can seriously improve your candidate experience. Book a demo of Webrecruit ATS to learn more.


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