Creating an Application Process That Won’t Put Candidates off

Great candidates are rarely an easy find, and if your application process is off-putting then you’re making life even harder. Application forms which are long, complicated, extensive or just downright weird will do a scary amount of damage. If you fear that your current application process might be guilty, then the first step is to determine where the problem is. There are many different factors which can cause a high candidate fallout rate at the application stage.

Is it too long?

The length of time it takes to complete an application is crucial. Not that (most) candidates aren’t willing to put the work in, but for many long applications can be a struggle – particularly if they already have a full-time job. And as we all know that the majority of candidates are passive, this creates a pretty serious problem.

Equally as disheartening are applications which have hidden stages. As in when you click apply and it looks like it’s a one pager, but half an hour later you’re on page 5 with no indication of how much further you’ve got to go. This is guaranteed to have a negative influence on the number of applicants you pocket, as if candidates aren’t given an end result to aim towards (e.g. indication of progress, how many more steps) then they’re likely to lose focus and give up somewhere along the way.

To avoid this, try to keep the initial application as short as possible or at least make sure the candidate is aware of roughly how long it’s likely to take to complete. And to reduce the number of extraneous applications from a short application process, focus on sharing your ads in researched, relevant places within your sector.

Too many clicks to the end result?

This is a particular pet peeve of mine. A job advertised on a job board should involve very few clicks to take you from A to B. As a site which is solely designed for advertising and applying for jobs, it should be kind of their speciality…But no. Click apply and you’re told you have to apply via website. Click apply via website and you’re told to register. Register and you’re told to send for an application pack. Send for application pack and….ah, you know what, forget it. Sick of it.

If it takes more than one or two clicks to get candidates to the application form itself, never mind filling it in, you’re guaranteed to see them lose interest. Instead, make sure that the process on your agency website is short, sweet and has clear direction. And if you are using job boards to advertise your vacancies, ensure that the process is as simplified as possible.

Are you asking unreasonable questions?

The actual questions asked in the application form are just as important as having an efficient process. As well as making sure they’re relevant and proof-read (a candidate’s first impression of you as an agency is just as important as your first impression of them), they also have to be reasonable.
Asking a question so deep or strange that a candidate in ‘job hunt’ mode can barely process it isn’t going to end well. I seriously doubt anyone here is this daft, but here’s an example for you to (hopefully) cringe at, “Are tomatoes vegetables or fruit?” (apparently, this question is scientifically proven to reflect a lot about the open mindedness of your personality...)

No doubt there’s some super-slick psychoanalysis meaning in the answer, but really? Surely for the sake of receiving applications from more than the tiny percentage of active candidates who have time to think on and compose an answer, it can wait until the interview if with reflection, it’s actually necessary at all.

So if you’re seeing large inconsistencies between the number of ‘apply’ clicks you get versus the number of applicants, it could be time to review your application process. Take out any misleading/unneeded steps, track any improvements and keep making changes until your candidate fall out has reduced to tolerable amount. Thereafter, it’s a good idea to do regular checks on this to make sure it stays low and that everything in your application process is working as it should.

Kara Shorthouse

Kara is a Digital Marketer based in Glasgow. In her spare time she loves a good gig, ponies and flattering Snapchat filters.

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