If you’re making plans to hire new people in the near future, you have the option of creating a job application for applicants to fill out in addition to accepting resumes. The job application is a simple form that could make the hiring process simpler and quicker for you to navigate, but it also comes with downsides.

Quick Judgments

One disadvantage of using a job application to screen applicants is that you might make quick judgments about applicants based on this form. For instance, you could end up passing on a qualified worker just because their handwriting is a little messy. Or you might toss away applications that show just one irrelevant job without giving the candidate a chance to explain their experience. If you start off your hiring procedure based on the application alone, you could miss out on viable employees.

More Paperwork

Another disadvantage of asking applicants to fill out job applications is that you have another layer of paperwork to sort through during the hiring process. In addition to looking at resumes, calling candidates and scheduling interviews, you must also review and file these applications. In some cases, checking job applications in addition to resumes is an unnecessary step and too time-consuming for a busy hiring manager.

Background Check Information

Another benefit of an application is that it allows you to perform a background check on potential applicants in advance of calling them for more information. At the top of the application you can request name, address, phone number, references and even a Social Security number in some cases. If the applicant consents with a signature, you can then perform screening checks (like a credit or employment check) before inviting him in for an interview. Make sure you read your state employment law for any rules about the information you can request for and about an applicant.

You Choose the Format

One advantage of requiring a job application is that it allows you to get a full, “at-a-glance” view of the applicant in the exact format that you need. For instance, if you’re more concerned with an applicant’s past employment over all other details, you can prioritize that at the top of the form and allow more space for listing the details. You also can ask specific questions on the job application as a way of initiating a pre-interview session. If you like the answers, you can then invite the person in for the final interview.

The Right to Privacy

All employees and applicants have the right to keep their personal information private. Even the most benign actions can be seen as a breach of privacy and can cause your business to be the subject of an expensive lawsuit. Avoid listing all employee's cell phone numbers in a central database, stay away from email when talking about sensitive subjects, and never keep medical information about employees in an open file. While sharing all of these items isn't specifically prohibited, smart employers take no chances and keep all personal details locked away with access limited to those in need.