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MECA Consulting Blog

What's in Your App? Recruitment Applications

Monday, November 09, 2015

 When it comes to job applications, I believe that everyone, employers and applicants alike would agree to the same fundamental questions:  Why are we doing one?  What does it really ask?  How does it really help the employer decide who is right for the job?

First, let’s review what a job application is really for. Candidly, it is an exercise to find out who is interested enough in the job to actually fill one out. It also allows a somewhat fair comparison in terms of being able to compare similar biographical, educational or work experience of the various candidates in a fairly simple way. Essentially, it helps standardize the procedure for the employer. The negative is that this comparison may filter out potentially great candidates because they don’t “look good” on paper. Most applications also do not allow the applicant to express much creativity or explain anything in great detail.  In many situations, the application is a “pre-screen” of who at least looks good on paper and MAY be worthwhile to move to the interview process. I always like to tell people that the cover letter encourages employers to look at your CV. Your CV allows them to request an application.  The application and CV become the backbone of the interview process. So keep a copy and review before you go into the interview.  Be ready to discuss and put everything on the application in a positive light during the interview.

So what are the employers really looking for (or what should they be looking for)? They can quickly review whether the applicant has the basic skills set and/or experience that is required for the job. These applications may help separate out the candidates who the employer wants to find out more about or even those that stand out on paper from all the rest of the applicants.  Good applications also allow for a subtle review of how people get along with others and like to be managed.  Good applications can reveal about how a candidate likes to be recognized for achievement and rewarded for a job well done. Great applications can also be a test of communication skills and basic knowledge. Most importantly, think what the employers are really asking.  See some examples below:
  1. Past Job responsibilities: Do they have the skill set that is required?
  2. Terms of employment: Stability
  3. Favorite part of a previous job: What tasks do they prefer and how do they like to be managed?
  4. Least favorite part of a previous job: Will there be personnel, management or work ethic problems?
  5. Biggest accomplishment: How do they like to be recognized?
  6. Most valuable prior experience: Did they read the current job description and position themselves so their strengths are what we are looking for?
  7. How others describe you: How they would like to be described. What traits they think they have.
  8. Math test: Can they do simple math in their head?
  9. Personality profile: Are there personality traits that will cause conflict with other members? Do they have the right personality for the position?

What you can’t ask

Marital status

Maiden Name





Military discharge


Workers Comp History


Great applications serve as an important filter to prevent unnecessary and costly interviews and serve as a critical framework for the interview process and other parts of the recruitment process. Give careful consideration to exactly what you ask and what is being asked in an employment application.  You can download job application templates for various positions within your office on our website and save hours of work.

APPLICANTS:  Before you fill out an app—make sure you have a file or list of all pertinent information that you may need. Download sample job applications off the web and fill them in so you have all of the necessary and pertinent information in one place. Be prepared to express in WRITING why you are the best candidate for the job.  Dare to be original! This may be exactly what is necessary to make you stand out from the rest of the applicants who, most likely, monotonously filled out all the same forms but never expressed why they were really interested in the position. Have an answer written out so you can quickly answer such a question in a very positive light.  This is not the time to be thinking about how you want to answer ANY question. Applicants should do their homework BEFORE they fill out the applications. Understand EXACLTY what the job description outlines as essential skills, education, or personality traits PRIOR to filling out the application.  You always (truthfully, of course) want to position your answers so they align with the skills or traits required for the position. Before you hand in the application, check and DOUBEL CHECK that there are no grammatical or spelling errors, no blank questions, and no illegible words or incorrect statements. Be sure to express your personality the best you can on any essay or open-ended questions. Remember - you NEED TO BE more interesting or better qualified than everyone else to be the best candidate going into the interview process. 


  • Truthful answers
  • Correct spelling/grammar
  • No blank answers
  • Signed
  • Keep a copy

Applications don’t get you a position, but they can’t prevent you from getting one!    
APPLICANTS:  Applications don't get you a position, but they can't prevent you from getting one!

By giving your staff clear direction about what they are supposed to do, you clear the path for them to get things done. To learn more about job descriptions, be sure to check out our 5 part video podcasts on Recruitment. If you need any help please don’t hesitate to contact my team. We would love the opportunity to help make your business better. 

Best Wishes,


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