Hiring The Right Applicant With The Right Job Application Form

Finding and hiring the right job applicant is a time consuming process. The job application review and screening process is arduous and your busy schedule does not allow you to waste time interviewing the wrong candidates (although that it is far better than hiring the wrong candidate).

Typical job application forms ask applicants to list their previous experience. Skip this! Get to the heart of the matter and ask about their achievements and problem solving skills.

If you want to quickly screen out the good from the bad, your application needs to ask questions that also shed light on the applicant’s character and tendencies.

For instance:

  • Will this applicant fit in with our wacky culture?
  • What drives this person; do they have passion?
  • Is this person flaky or committed?

The following tips will help you customize your job application form so that you can weed out applicants that are not a good fit and help you hire the best possible candidate.

Creative Job Applications Attract The Right Applicants

We recently hired some new Support Heroes. If you happen to be a customer of ours and have called our help desk, you know that our support representatives are unique. We believe in not just answering your question, but going above and beyond to solve your problem (hence the title Support Hero rather than Support Representative).

Being creative with our job application form has allowed us to find these awesome heroes. It has also made a mundane task fun for the applicant and us! Here are some questions we ask to filter out those who are not right for the job.

Is This Candidate a Cultural Fit?

Our corporate culture is a little different than most (to say the least). We take our work and customers seriously, but not ourselves. We want to know if the applicant will fit in so we start with these icebreakers:

  1. Would you be willing to wear a cape?
  2. Do you kick ass?

As our Support Team Manager, Taylor, says, “While these seem like arbitrary questions, they help us identify whether or not an applicant will be happy in our culture. It also lets the applicant know what they are getting into! We have had many interviewees say that once they saw these questions they knew we were a company they were interested in.”

To further determine if the applicant is a cultural fit, we share some of the titles that our support heroes refer to themselves as, and ask them what they would like to be:

  1. Our support team has a pirate, a ranger, a sheriff, a wizard, a ninja, a Jedi, a cowboy, a goddess, a secret agent, a scientist, a gunslinger, a sorceress, a demolition expert, a samurai, a disco diva, a songstress, an mc, and even a mermaid. What would you be and why?

While the first question is a quantitative (close-ended) question type, many of our questions are qualitative (open-ended) so that we can gain more insight into the individual’s personality.

We purposely leave these questions optional, but you can bet that if they do not complete a question they are not likely to be scheduled for an interview. Why? Because we only want individuals who are willing to go above and beyond; if they won’t take the extra step to answer a question on a job application, it is highly likely they will not go the extra step for a customer either.

Does This Candidate Have What It Takes?

We look for problem solvers who are empathetic and have a servant’s heart.

To test the applicant’s customer service instincts we present them with several tricky customer scenarios and ask them to reply as if they were responding to the customer. This show us whether they are willing to do some research.

Here is an example:

  1. A customer asks if there is anyway a survey taker can edit his or her response. What would you tell them and how did you get the answer?
  2. Reply to a customer who was double-charged last month.

Asking these types of questions without providing any knowledge of our policies or training gives us a good feel for whether or not the applicant has good instincts for customer service. If they have done their homework, they should know that we put customers first, and should reply as such.

Does This Candidate Have The Right Interpersonal Qualities?

Let’s face it – sometimes mistakes happen. We look for humility. This is an important quality when working in customer support (and most other positions). We want people who will take personal responsibility, and make it right.

To demonstrate this, we ask applicants to describe a personal failure and how they worked through it. This question not only shows us their problem-solving skills, but also gives us a glimpse of the kind of person they really are. If a person can’t think of a single failure to share, this is another red flag that this might not be the best fit.

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Is This Candidate a Creative Problem Solver?

We look for creativity. Creative people are usually good problem solvers. We give applicants the chance to show off their creativity by giving them the opportunity to upload something that they think will impress us.

Making this optional again gives the applicant the choice to either do the bare minimum, or go above and beyond. We’ve received some fun stuff such as YouTube videos, comic strips, applicant-built webpages, etc.

Is This Candidate Driven and Passionate?

People who are passionate are usually the most successful. Letting candidates express their passions and desires sets them apart and provides a tremendous amount of insight into how they will be a passionate contributor to your team.

Ask the applicant to highlight something they excel at or are proud of, even if it’s not relevant to the job. People have some great stuff to share!

Is This Candidate Dedicated and Committed?

In this changing world and fluctuating economy, who knows what tomorrow will bring. Asking candidates where they see themselves in 5 to 10 years may not be the right question.

But you do want to know if they are dedicated to improving the role and making your business better over the next year or two.

So we ask them:

  • Why would you like to work at SurveyGizmo?

We place the question at the end of the application in order to let the application process shape their answer give them insight to our culture.

Our Customer Support Goddess, Marybeth, says that this is her favorite question on the application and that she usually reads this before anything else.

“The answer to this question tells us a lot about he person and helps us understand their motivation and whether or not they would be happy here.”

We only want to hire people that really want to work here. This question gives them the opportunity to tell us why they want to work here and how much. If they are just looking for a job that will pay the bills, this many not be the right fit.

Which brings me to the next question on the application:

  • What is your desired annual salary? Please answer with a real number or range rather than “negotiable.” You have a budget and we have a budget, so there’s really only so much negotiating we can do. Thank you.

Being up front about the salary range prevents you from wasting time on candidates you can’t afford.

Only Hire The Best

When hiring someone, instinct is as important as a resume or job application. After meeting with the candidate, trust your gut feeling. Let go of those who left you feeling ‘so-so’ and only hire those that left you feeling energized.

Your employees are your most valuable asset, so invest wisely!

What questions do you ask on your job application form to filter candidates?

Written by

Sandy McKee

Sandy McKee is a digital marketer with over 10 years of experience in SEM, SEO, and social media marketing. She is a lover of books, fine food, and a mother of 2.

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