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Free They Ask, You Answer course

Learn the principles of the They Ask, You Answer by taking our most popular course, taught by Marcus Sheridan himself.

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6 Things Your Applications Need to Do to Get the Best Job Candidates

6 Things Your Applications Need to Do to Get the Best Job Candidates Blog Feature

Natalie Davis

VP of Talent & Admin, Co-Creator of IMPACT's Core Values, Vision, and Culture Code

June 18th, 2018 min read

Hiring is hard, partially because reviewing candidates is extremely hard.

With one click of a button, you can accept or eliminate someone who could be the perfect candidate, but maybe didn’t have the best resume, application, LinkedIn, etc. Whoops…

We’ve revised and added to our applications numerous times over the years.

Each time we’ve had an applicant go through our rigorous hiring process and make it out the other end only to find they were missing some key skills, we do some serious revamping.

Through these changes,  we’ve found that doing the following 5 things in job applications makes it much quicker and easier to review and qualify or disqualify candidates, and ultimately get the right people on our team.

(Note: I’ll be talking all about how we transformed our hiring process at IMPACT Live 2018! Get your ticket now before prices go up at the end of the month!)

1. Dive Deep Into Their Experience

Anyone can do a little bit of bluffing on their job application if they want to, but when you ask for specific details, it gets a little trickier.

At IMPACT, we ask open-ended questions about experience that is a deal breaker if they don’t have.

In the example below for a Marketing Strategist application, we ask for supporting details instead of just a number of websites.

This helps to see if the person can talk the talk about the processes they have used, the platforms they’re familiar with, etc. Being able to discuss the strategy and results of their work speaks volumes more than just checking box.

6 Things Your Applications Need to Do to Get the Best Job Candidates - Experience

As mentioned above, a lot of our open-ended questions stemmed from overlooked gaps in a person’s skills we noticed after hiring them.

While we can’t be sure they still aren’t going above and beyond to bluff on the application, digging in during the next stages of our application process will separate the qualified candidates from the not.

2. See If They’re Engaged With Your Brand

When searching through candidates, I often recognize names of people who are active on our social media pages.

It’s an instant nod for the person because I feel like I know more about their personality and can see their passion in their contributions.

We realized the people who were subscribed to our emails, read our blog, or were engaged with us on social media were the types of people who would likely make great culture adds as we want people who want to network, share their knowledge, and keep on top of the industry.

Plus, it just showed that they had a true interest in IMPACT. At that point, I know they actually care about our company’s brand as a whole, not just about getting a job.

A quick way we evaluate this is by is by asking on our application if they’re in our Facebook group, IMPACT Elite.

6 Things Your Applications Need to Do to Get the Best Job Candidates - Brand

If you have a community online that is similar, it might make sense to add a question like this on your applications.

Or, perhaps you could refer to something about your history, culture, or organization that only someone who has done their research would know.

3. Make Them Think About the Future.

As important as it is to think about the present, it’s just as important to be thinking about the future.

You’d be surprised how many people say they see themselves working in fashion or as  a sportscaster when I ask them what position they want in a few years.

Although it sounds intriguing, this has nothing to do with what we do at IMPACT.  If that is where they want to be, why are they applying to be an account manager at a marketing company?

While I love that people have their future planned out, it doesn’t make sense to bring them on if they’re not looking to make a long-term commitment to company or industry. . Not to mention, we’d never want to have our clients work with someone who isn’t passionate and may be gone in a few months.

Here’s how we ask about the future on our application:

6 Things Your Applications Need to Do to Get the Best Job Candidates - Future

Is turnover in a role an issue for you? If so, you might want to add a question like this to your application to start weeding out the people who are already planning their exit.

Questions also help you gauge applicant’s drive and where they may fit into your organization down the line.

4. Incorporate Your Culture

Did you know we have a free book program at IMPACT? It’s one of the many things we do to work learning into the core of our culture.

With learning being such a big focus of ours, if people aren’t passionate about educating themselves and keeping up with the trends of the industry, they won’t be a good fit here.

That’s why we have  a question in our application to find out if someone is passionate about learning. 

6 Things Your Applications Need to Do to Get the Best Job Candidates - Culture

Now, this alone won’t tell us if someone is a continuous learner or not.

They could very well have no accolades or certifications, but spend all their time reading blogs and listening to podcasts, but this is a quick way for us to see if someone’s making an effort to educate themselves.

Is your corporate culture focused on social responsibility? How about the environment? Whatever it’s passionate about, find a way to inquire about that on your application.

5. Ask Why.

In between all of the experience and the facts that make a person look perfect on paper, it’s important to take a step back and ask them why they want this position.

When asking why, we do it in two parts.

For starters, why do you want this role? (Which we follow up on later in the phone screen.)

6 Things Your Applications Need to Do to Get the Best Job Candidates - Why

Client services is difficult and stressful at times and it’s not for everyone.

Understanding a person’s thoughts on why they want the role will determine if they’re truly passionate about it or just looking for a job. If it’s clear someone is just looking for a job, they likely won’t make it too long in that role.

The second part of asking why, is why they see themselves at our company.

If a person is genuinely interested in our culture and being part of our team, and not just “looking for a remote job,” they’ll be happier and contribute to our culture on a deeper level.

Here’s how we say it on our careers page:

6 Things Your Applications Need to Do to Get the Best Job Candidates - Why IMPACT

6. Give Them Space to Speak Their Mind

Once all the questions are said and done, there might be something else that the candidate wants you to know, but it doesn’t fit into their answers.

That’s why we always leave a space at the end of an application for them to speak their mind:

6 Things Your Applications Need to Do to Get the Best Job Candidates - Speak their mind

Applicants have told us all sorts of things in this space. From reasons they have gaps in their resume to jokes about our office plant. (His name is Clyde, by the way, and he’s active on Twitter @ClydeThePlant).

This is an extra way to find out more about a candidate’s personality, or just something they want you to know. It’s my favorite part to read on applications.

The Next Steps in our Process

In recent years, our application has truly helped us get the right people in our door. It’s long and asks you to dig deep, but if you know how to answer these questions, there’s a good chance you’re a match for IMPACT.

In my session at IMPACT Live this year, I’ll be diving into the stages of our hiring process past the application. If you haven’t bought your ticket yet, make sure to do that before they sell out!

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