Time-to-Apply – new research and surprising data

Posted by Dr Glyn Brokensha | August - 6 - 2018 | 0 Comment

Just how important is “Time-to-Apply”?

Talk around the traps is that applicants are unwilling to spend more than a very few minutes on job applications?  But is this true?  New research about Time-to-Apply from Kantrowitz, Tuzinski & Raines of SHL strongly suggests it is not…


” HR staff understand what candidates are looking for … mostly but…

… HR respondents tend to be more extreme in the extent to which they believe candidates prefer short, novel, technology-enabled hiring tools, compared to actual candidate preferences.”

Tracy M. Kantrowitz Kathy A. Tuzinski Justin M. Raines

So just how long does it take to make an application on Expr3ss!

Estimating the time taken to complete an online job application is not as easy as it might at first seem.  Applicants are often side-tracked, for example by working on their resume or cover letter, or distracted by phone calls, text messages, coffee breaks, side conversations or even by their work (we know that a large proportion of applications are completed at the workplace).

The definitive method is to observe the applicants throughout an actual job application, counting only the time spent actively completing the form.  Expr3ss! has of course conducted such studies arriving at a typical time-to-apply of six to ten minutes.

Measuring Time-to-Apply

Confirmatory data can be sought from the job applications to our customers.  It is possible to measure the interval between starting the application and submitting the form, which gives an estimate of the maximum time-to-complete.  Of course, this maximum time includes time elapsing whilst not actually engaged in the application and will also vary according to the number of items of data that were set to be collected on the application form for each particular job.

In addition, applicants can import their own “profiles” from providers such as Facebook, Indeed.com and Seek, or utilising prior applications to the same employer via Expr3ss!, radically speeding time-to-apply and further confounding the data.

Time-to-Apply Data in the field

Regardless, when applicant numbers are sufficient, this can provide some useful data.  This is especially true when choosing to study an employer that uses a standardised approach across all jobs, assisting in minimising confounding variables:  provided one bears in mind at all times the limitations inherent in such an approach.

Here are the results over one year from an employer that collects a consistent, standardised data-set using Expr3ss!.


The modal time-to-complete is 6 minutes, with a broad peak from 4 to 9 minutes and the weighted mean is approximately 10 minutes, consistent with our original study findings. 

This result is typical.

Applicant Feedback

79.6% of job applicants offered voluntary feedback about the application process.

Perfect Score: 21%

Above Mid-point Score: 96%

Easy: Expr3ss! Stars in Time-to-Apply  Simple: Expr3ss! Stars in Time-to-Apply  Quick: Expr3ss! Stars in Time-to-Apply  Comfort: Expr3ss! Stars in Time-to-Apply

Company Promoters

About reinforcing a positive employer brand as part of the candidate experience.” Kantrowitz, Tuzinski & Raines go on to state:

“This is particularly important as findings from our candidate experience research show that those with a positive candidate experience tend to go on to be company promoters….”

Do you know your own Applicants’ Time-to-Apply?