By Felicia Fleitman

How Employers Sabotage Themselves

The Application Phase

(Part 2 of 3)

The Talent Board (the non-profit organization focused on the elevation and promotion of a quality candidate experience) and Maury Hanigan, CEO of SparcStart, joined forces for a recent webinar for Recruiters, HR Professionals, and Hiring Managers focused on what employers are doing right – and wrong – in the hiring process. While you can click HERE to watch the whole thing (30 min), we’ve compiled the highlights and best practices in to a 3-part series that examines each phase of the hiring process – Attraction, Application, and Selection. In Part 2, we will examine the application phase of hiring.

Missed Part 1; the Attraction Phase? Check it out HERE.


There is an awesome burger joint in NYC, Shake Shack. Before their recent expansion, they had only 1 location in Madison Park. And lines were long. Like, 2 hours long. And while our meal was worth the wait during a beautiful, lazy afternoon, the worst part was not knowing how much longer the wait would be. And I can’t imagine the mutiny that would occur if we finally got to the front of the line, and they were sold out of what we wanted.

Yet this experience is something that candidates face every day, and it’s happening on your watch. The dreaded application process. Long, tedious, and with no indication on how long it will take or if the candidate will even get an interview, the application is arguably the most dreaded part of the process. But it doesn’t have to be.

In a recent Talent Board survey, candidates noted that managing their expectations on how long the application takes to complete is very important. There is nothing that frustrates a candidate more than answering question after question wondering when it’s going to be over. This also contributes to candidates’ likelihood of starting, but not completing an application. Some argue that a lengthy application is meant to screen the candidates out who are just applying to apply vs the ones who really want the job. But don’t you want to be the one to decide who remains in the process instead of the candidate? That is an easy way to lose high quality candidates who are having a better Candidate Experience elsewhere.

According to Talent Board respondents, 39% of candidates reported that they’ve worked on online applications where they have no idea what is coming or how much longer the application will be.

An easy way to fix this is to include a progress bar in your application form. An even easier (and free) way is to post the application process on your website. An AWESOME EXAMPLE of a company being really transparent about their application/ hiring process is Cumming. They provide candidates on an overview of Applicant Flow (complete with screenshots of their ATS), live chat function, as well as terminology and FAQs.

In addition to telling candidates how long an application process will take, really think about what you are requiring during the initial application, and is that information really necessary. According to Talent Board respondents, almost 75% of candidates reported that completing a job application took longer than 15 minutes. My question – WHY??? Especially since most candidates’ perception of applications is they go in to a black hole of no response, why do we need this much information from candidates just to not consider them for a job?

3 Ways to Create a Better Application Process

1. An easy, and free way to fix this is to try it yourself. Seriously. Go ahead and apply to one of your jobs yourself. While you are doing that, note every field that you are answering that is:

  • Not used/ recorded/ evaluated, ever
  • Not needed to determine if that candidate should be granted a screening interview

After you’ve done that, if there is not a legal reason it’s required, remove it from your standard application template.

2. Indicate on the Job Description, or on the top of the application, how long it will take to complete. Incorporating a progress bar, or a “you are almost there!” pop-up in-between screens may help, too.

3. Consider creating a section on your careers page that walks candidates through the application, interview, and hiring process. Candidates appreciate clear communication and when their expectations are set.

Felicia Fleitman is the Founder of Savvy Hires, a workforce development & onboarding firm specializing in Intern & Apprentice Programs. Check us out at

Read more here:: Recruiting Blogs – Job