Job Application Checklist: What To Include, What Not To Include
An essential tool in your company’s recruitment process is it job application. Asking the right questions is the first step in finding the right candidate to fill your job opening. Steering clear of the wrong questions is critical in avoiding potential lawsuits and hiring the wrong person.
First, here are some obvious items that should be on every job application:
- Full name: For pre-employment checks conducted, such as drug screenings or criminal background checks
- Contact information: For scheduling interviews and making the job offer to the successful candidate
- Primary address: For mailing items that may be needed during the recruitment process
Next, here are some questions for getting a strong pool of candidates to interview.
- Position for which you are applying? Need to know this if your company has multiple job openings
- Why are you applying for this position? Motivational fit is a key indicator of whether the applicant will be successful on the job if hired
- What about our company interests you? Another key question in determining motivational fit; also shows whether the applicant has done his or her homework and researched your company
- What hours can you work weekly? Indicates whether the applicant can work the required schedule and overtime if necessary
- Are you willing to travel or relocate? Important if regular travel is required or the job is in another city or state
- Are you able to perform job-related tasks with or without reasonable accommodation? Absolutely necessary for screening out applicants who do not have the knowledge, experience, or abilities to be successful in the job
- Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Needed to screen out applicants who have criminal backgrounds that present risk to your company. For example, if cash handling is a primary job duty, you wouldn’t want to hire someone convicted of theft or embezzlement
- Previous positions and key accomplishments in each? Indicates whether the applicant has the required experience to perform the job
- Have you ever been involuntarily terminated from a job? Take a “yes” answer as a warning sign but don’t automatically eliminate the applicant from your candidate pool
- What are your personal strengths and weaknesses? Another indicator of whether the applicant is a good fit for the job opening
- What is your primary career goal? Indicates whether the applicant might stay and grow at your company or leave as soon as a better opportunity comes along
Finally, here are items you should avoid asking for on your job application and why.
- Maiden name: Discrimination based on marital status is prohibited. Avoid any appearance of not hiring a female candidate because of her marital status.
- Rent or own: Reveals information about the applicant’s financial situation
- Military service discharge: Questions about military duties, service dates, rank, pay, and training are appropriate. Avoid questions about the circumstances of military service discharge because they might reveal information about the applicant’s medical conditions or disabilities
- Race: Hiring decisions based on an applicant’s race are illegal. Obtain this information for diversity reasons only after the candidate has been hired and do not ask for it on the job application.
- Social security number: Wait until you’ve narrowed your candidate pool to the finalists to ask for social security number. This will avoid any privacy issues.
- Date of birth: Avoid asking for date of birth in order to steer clear of the appearance of age discrimination.
- Emergency contact: This information is not relevant during the application and interview phase. Only obtain emergency contact information from the successful candidate.
- Citizenship: Do not ask the applicant country of birth; however, you can ask whether the applicant is legally eligible to work in the U.S.