Aug 24, 2021

Is your application form scaring away great candidates?

This week, we’re inspired by the story of a busy hospitality business that is in the market for staff. They need at least 10 new people, so invested in a fantastic advertising campaign, with excellent copywriting, great graphics and a full media spread across job boards and social media.

Two weeks in, the analytics showed their ads were certainly attracting attention. They had thousands of views and hundreds of click-throughs - but only single-digit completed applications. 

So, what went wrong?

This is a great opportunity to talk about moderating your recruitment process to suit the market.

In a job-short market, employers can afford to ignore the ‘candidate experience’, because unemployment rates are high and there are dozens of candidates for every vacancy. You can make job seekers jump through hoops to submit their resumes, confident that plenty will do so due to lack of other options.

However, in a candidate-short market, the inverse is true. Job seekers have literally hundreds of job vacancy options to pick and choose from and, chances are, your job is one of dozens that turns up on their search. So, if your recruitment process is too hard, too impersonal or too demanding, candidates will simply click away and move on.

Don’t let your application form scare away good candidates!

Right now, we are in a candidate-short market in most industries across Australia and NZ. This means that as an employer with a vacancy, you need to put your best possible foot forward to attract good talent and encourage them to apply for your job. Not your competitor’s.

Talent Propeller tracks the click-through and completed application rates for all client campaigns. We know from years of experience that the longer your initial screening questionnaire, the more likely candidates are to drop out of the process.

And that brings us to the crux of today’s story.

Right now, the average completion rate of applications from ‘apply now’ to ‘submit’, is 38%. In other words, 62% of applicants are turned off by a company’s application form.

Clients who have less than 6 questions tend to have the highest completion rates. 6-10 questions and (unless you are dealing with candidates used to highly regulated industries like education or Council) your rates start to drop off.  Any more than 10 questions and the ‘fail to complete application’ rates increase exponentially.

And our star of this story, with 35 questions? Their drop off rate is 92%. In other words, 9/10 potential candidates thinking, ‘forget this, I will apply for the next one’.

We recommend you give serious consideration to your application questionnaire. Do you really need a candidate to repeat their life history in bullet point form and sign multiple declarations before you will even consider their resume? 

Yes, it’s convenient to be able to automatically decline people who don’t tick every box on your wish list. But we advise caution. Particularly if you are looking for staff in blue-collar roles: think drivers, waiters, bar staff, cleaners – these candidates are likely to be applying on mobile phones and may or may not be particularly fond of forms. If they are faced with a list of 35 questions they need to answer before they can even submit their resume, they are going to walk away.

The end result will be that you spent big bucks on advertising, attracted hundreds of potential candidates and received a single-digit number of resumes.

So, the moral of the story? Make it easy for candidates to get the conversation started.

Think of the first part of the recruitment process, the job advert, as an invitation to express interest.  You put your best foot forward with a list of what you’re offering, you invite job seekers to engage, they respond by sending their resumes.

Keep questions to a minimum. Do they have the essential licenses or qualifications for the job? Do they have work rights? Why do they want this job? 

Once dialogue is open, you can ask more questions, request they take tests and develop a relationship.

Our best advice? Treat candidates with respect and let the relationship flourish. 

Talent Propeller customers can access a report that shows the completion rate (and how many potential candidates you lost) for each campaign. If you don’t know how to do this, ask your friendly account manager. If your application forms could be better, talk to us. We know what works and have helped hundreds of clients to improve their response rates.  

Good luck.