#MythBusting: How screening questions really affect applicant experience

Posted by Liz van Zyl | July - 26 - 2018 | 0 Comment

Applicant Experience, Screening Questions, ATS, Applicant Tracking System

We keep hearing about the war for talent… “Today it’s not just challenging, it’s downright hard and complex,” says Jacob Morgan on Inc.com. In this article published on Harvard Business School’s website, Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones, and Beth Axelrod – authors of The War for Talent – are quoted as predicting that “the crucial force that will make or break firms in the next two decades will be their ability to attract, develop, and retain managers at all levels.”

Clearly hiring talented professionals is more competitive than ever (not to mention the significant costs associated with staff turnover).  Not just do you require an attractive employer brand with heaps of awesome benefits (yoga at work, anyone?). You have to ensure potential employees have a great experience too. This starts with applicant experience. 

The research on applicant experience is still sparse. Particularly with the recruitment industry changing so dramatically.  Having been in the Australian market for over a decade, we’ve come across plenty of myths when it comes to applicant experience and how screening questions affect this.

To date:

  • Expr3ss! has recorded over 14 million answers to screening questions
  • The average number of questions answered per applicant is 33
  • A whopping 86% of applicants scored more than 90% on their screening questions
  • Only 3.1% of applicants scored less than 50% on their screening questions

Myth 1: Adding screening questions will result in applicants dropping off…

It’s true… Some applicants drop off when the barrier to application is higher. When they actually aren’t engaged enough to put in an extra 4 minutes (as opposed to the 8-second applications some online job seeking sites boast about). The question is: do you want to consider someone who wasn’t willing to spend a couple of extra minutes applying to your role?

As Dr. Glyn Brokensha, Co-founder and Chairman of Expr3ss!, explained at our Cafe Expr3sso! breakfasts earlier in 2018:

“Research indicates that online job seeking sites enable people to submit a substantial amount of applications at the click of a mouse. This means that many people are taking a spray and pray approach – without much thought into what roles they are clicking “Apply” for. In fact, recruiters often complain that they have to re-introduce a role to an applicant when they contact them about their application because the applicant applied for so many roles that they don’t even remember the one in question.”

Then there’s the fact that people embellish their resumes so that they become marketing documents instead… You can read more about that can of worms in this article about what a resume is for.

Myth 2: Applicants won’t answer the screening questions…

According to stats mentioned in a recent Indeed webinar, the average time spent applying for a single role online in America is 16 minutes. The Expr3ss! Application process takes an average of 6-9 minutes. And the reviews are positive – our customers report that applicants say that the screening questions actually engage them in the process, helping them understand a role’s requirements.  It confirms them in their drive to apply and convinces them of the professionalism of the company and its recruitment efforts.

 Myth 3: More screening questions = more dropouts

To compare this verbal feedback from our customers with something more solid, we tracked exactly when applicants dropped out of completing their screening questions and the results are startling:  Dropping out is totally independent of the number of screening questions and should rather be attributed to the fact that – through the process of answering the screening questions – applicants realise that they do not possess what is required by the role or that the role involves elements which they are not interested in or passionate about.

Overall, hundreds of thousands of applicants that apply via the Expr3ss! system every month rate their application experience. Feedback from these applicants ranges from 3.8 to 4.9 out of 5 stars (irrespective of whether the role has 5 or 35 screening questions). Proof that screening questions don’t negatively impact applicant experience at all (in fact, the opposite). Leaving these myths… BUSTED!