Using Your Own Application Form

You might wish to have applicants submit an application form that you devise rather than (or in addition to) having them submit their resumes. One benefit to this is that you receive standardized information, allowing you to scan through applications quickly. It also ensures that applicants will provide certain information up front, which can streamline the process and save you time.

You can buy standard job application forms at office supply stores, or create your own.

In deciding what you might want to include on an application form, keep in mind to ask information you need. Make sure you don't ask any questions that could be deemed discriminatory.

Here are some guidelines for what to ask on job applications:

Personal Information

  • Name -- First, last, middle.
  • Address -- Present and previous, as well as how long the applicant has resided at each.
  • Social security number
  • Age --This is a sensitive topic. Ask only if it's necessary to comply with child labor laws, and phrase as "Are you age 18 or over?"
  • Children -- It is permissible but not advised to ask if the applicant has made arrangements for childcare. If you do so, you must ask this of all applicants, regardless of gender.
  • Gender, race -- Ask only if this is required to meet affirmative action requirements, and make sure it's recorded on a separate sheet so that the applicant remains anonymous and the rest of the application information remains separate.
  • Physical ability -- You may not ask an applicant about any medical condition prior to making a job offer; however, you may ascertain whether the applicant is fit for duty or would be likely to injure him or herself or others due to a physical inability to perform the job.
  • Military Service -- You may ask about dates of service, branch of service, or skills and experience gained while in the military. You must not ask what type of discharge the applicant was granted.
  • Criminal Record -- If you ask about a person's criminal record, you must be able to justify the inquiry as being job-related and a business necessity. If the position requires extensive public contact, carrying a weapon, or handling large amounts of money or valuables, you have the right to ask detailed questions about the applicant's criminal history. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission suggests including the following language on the application near the inquiry relating to criminal activity:
    "Conviction of a crime will not necessarily be a bar to employment. Factors such as age at the time of the offense, type of offense, remoteness of the offense in time, and rehabilitation will be taken into account in determining effect on suitability for employment."


  • Schools attended -- You may ask for names and addresses of schools, as well as degrees obtained. Asking for dates may be construed as a means of estimating the applicant's age; if you need the dates to facilitate reference checking, explain that on the form.
  • Apprenticeships, training, classes, other educational experiences -- Asking about these is useful, as it can elicit valuable information about an applicant's skills and motivation.

Work Experience

This is an extremely important subject. Ask about the applicant's present employment and why he or she is leaving. Ask if you may contact the present employer to inquire about the applicant's job duties and salary. Ask about past employers, including names and addresses, previous job duties and salaries, aw well as names of former supervisors and reason for leaving. If an applicant has worked for many different companies in a short period of time, it may be a sign that they're not likely to stick with one job for long.


Ask for names and current contact information of two or three professional references. You may also want to ask for personal references.


If the job demands odd hours, overtime, travel, holidays, or transfers, specify these on the application and find out if the applicant can accommodate your needs. Provide a space for applicants to explain why they might not be available -- if a candidate needs Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays off for religious reasons, you cannot discriminate on that basis unless you can demonstrate "undue hardship," which is a significant difficulty or expense that the business would bear if the employee is not available on those days.