Hiring the right person is the important first step to having a happy employee and retaining great staff. The job application form is one of the most important tools available as you take that first step in the hiring process, yet many hiring managers are still using a standardized application form for every new job they post. Thanks to accessible and affordable online employee sourcing and applicant tracking systems, you now have plenty of options to take full advantage of the application form opportunity during that first step. The right application will allow you to simultaneously share your business culture and easily identify qualified “right fit” candidates.

3 Ways to Amp Up your Application Form

3 Ways To Get More Out of Your Employee Application Form

The better the fit, the happier the employee.

1. Add “fun” questions to assess personality/culture fit. Ask questions that elicit a response from applicants that gives you insight into personality and can help you assess culture fit. Getting the right personality and culture fit is a proven way to minimize your employee turnover rates. For example, asking a question like “Who is your hero?” or “What are you reading these days?” are fun questions that can also provide hiring managers with a better feel for whether or not candidates will be a good fit for the position and with the rest of the team and company. On the flip side, questions targeted at personality/culture fit also help you convey more clearly to applicants your company’s corporate culture. A company that includes a question like, “What would your spirit animal be and why?” is conveying to applicants that the company values more than just a skill set and work history. It’s a win-win.

2. Use skill and experience questions to weed out unqualified applicants. Separate qualified from unqualified applicants by asking specific questions about the candidate’s skill set, work experience and ability to handle the responsibilities of the position. A job description is a great place to convey the skills and requirements for the position, but also transforming these into application questions gives you the added benefits of further weeding out applicants who don’t meet your qualifications and helping you get the answers you’re looking for without having to pore over every single resume with a fine tooth comb. For example, if you require at least three years’ experience and a food handler’s certificate, turn these into application questions so you don’t waste time reviewing resumes for candidates that don’t meet these minimum requirements.

3. Identify top candidates easily by asking open-ended essay questions. Consider using essay questions on your application form to give applicants a forum to express themselves more freely and to give you a more in-depth feel for their ability to perform. For example, if you are hiring for a position that involves a high degree of customer service, consider asking an open-ended essay question like, “Describe a past experience where you had to deal with an unhappy customer and what steps you took to get to a satisfying resolution.” These types of free form questions enable hiring managers to assess communication style and problem solving skills before ever speaking to an applicant.

Consider customizing application questions to add in some of the recommendations above. It helps you be a more effective hiring manager and makes it easier for applicants to convey to you their qualifications and personality – the better the fit the happier the employee and the easier it is to retain them.