Standard Job Application Forms

As the name suggests, a job application form is a simple way for employers to collect basic information, as well as relevant details from applicants. These forms are generally standardized so as to be fair to all applicants and make the organization of information easier for employers. It aims to compile relevant, essential personal and professional information in order to make the hiring process much more straightforward, as employers can compare applicants without any hassle, while also easily sorting qualified applicants from the unqualified ones. Through the course of this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about compiling a standard job application form!

What a Standard Job Application Form Should Include

Job application forms are usually divided into a number of sections. For the purposes of recruitment, these sections usually pertain to the following;

Personal Information

This is fairly straightforward and asks candidates to list their personal information. Generally, this entails their name, address, phone number, date of birth, SSN, and marital status.

Educational Background

This typically varies between employers, with some requiring much more detail than others. Naturally, this depends largely on the nature of the job itself, and so may require some modification depending on the needs of the employer, as well as the scope of the position. That being said, employers typically expect a detailed history of the candidate’s educational background. This includes listing the educational institutions they’ve attended, the degrees and/or certificates they’ve earned, and specifying the years during which they were students. Additionally, certain jobs may require additional expertise in a highly technical area, and so, employers may request candidates to list and explain any projects or endeavors that candidates ventured out on during their time as students. Furthermore, some employers may also ask for details on extracurricular activities to help gauge fit, personality, and compatibility with the employer’s corporate culture.

Professional Background

Much like the educational background section, this section typically varies depending on the needs of the employers. Almost all employers are likely to want to know all of the professional experiences the candidate has had and will ask them to, at the very least, list out employers they’ve worked for in the past, as well as business-related endeavors they have branched out on. This includes things like freelance jobs, contract-based jobs, internships, and in some cases, one-time projects that candidates have taken up. If candidates are looking to change employers, most forms typically ask them to list their reasons for doing so and provide a brief explanation of their decision. Naturally, some employers may request more detail than others and so, will need to provide more space to have their requests met.

Some employers may also want to get to know a little more about each applicant and may opt to add additional sections that let applicants express themselves a little bit more. These sections are typically as follows;

A Small Skill-based Test

These days, this isn’t as common as it used to be in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. That being said, some employers still create small, skill-based tests that gauge a candidate’s ability to perform and adapt to the job in question. Some employers may also ask candidates to answer questions that help gauge personality, such as “explain an instance when you were forced to help someone and receive nothing in return. Why and how did you do it?” or “describe a situation when you have made a difficult concept easy to understand for an audience. How did you do so?” These are all questions crafted after years of research in the field of H.R and recruitment and help employers gauge a number of key factors regarding applicants. It is typically recommended to leave at least one page for applicants to answer such questions.

A Personal Statement or a Cover Letter

Unlike skill-based tests or competency questions, a personal statement or a cover letter is very common in today’s job market. It works as a section where candidates can express themselves and show off a little more about who they are, while also providing specifics. In particular, employers typically expect this section to cover why candidates are interested in the position, link their professional and educational background to the job description, and show how they’d be a good fit, what their goals are, and how the job would help them meet their goals. Depending on the nature of the job itself, this section can take a number of forms – creative roles typically ask candidates to show off their portfolio, while more technical jobs usually ask them to explain how their skills are relevant to the employer’s needs. Finally, this section allows candidates to add a personal touch to their application, giving them a chance to stand out among other applicants.

So, there you have it! A good application form should consider all of the aforementioned factors and give candidates the appropriate space to help make the recruitment process effective and efficient. Naturally, the nature of the job itself is very important, and so, employers will want to personalize their forms a little more and ask questions that are pertinent to their needs to help make the application form an effective introduction of each candidate.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What questions can legally be asked in a standard job application form?

There are a number of things that employers are legally prohibited from asking potential candidates in the interest of fairness. These include age, date of birth, race, gender, religion, and nationality and/or origin, credit history, citizenship status, drug use, and/or smoking/use of tobacco products and credit history. Laws vary from state to state, but it is generally considered improper and unethical for employers to ask candidates to list the aforementioned details.

Can employers ask for educational information in an application form?

That depends. If the job in question has no requirements that pertain to education, it is illegal to ask for educational information.

Is it illegal to ask for a photograph along with a job application form?

In many states, yes. For the purposes of fairness, it is discouraged to ask for photographs along with application forms.