10 Ways to Improve the Applicant Experience

February 21, 2022 • April Mabry

10 Ways to Improve the Applicant Experience

Improving the applicant experience may help reduce the number of candidates who start but fail to complete the application process.

According to a recent Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) article, the drop-off rate of applicants who start but don’t complete an application can be as high as 92 percent. Two major factors for this include the amount of time and the number of steps or “clicks” required to complete the application.

Improve the applicant experience

Below are 10 ways for improving the applicant experience.

  1. Provide a prominent, direct link to your career center or application system on the main district webpage.
  2. Ensure job postings and applications can be viewed and completed on mobile devices (e.g., smart phones and tablets).
  3. Be consistent with the look and branding on the HR webpage and the pages within the application tracking system. Work with the applicant tracking system vendor to customize application pages with district information and logos to assure the applicant they’re not leaving the district website.
  4. Simplify process for creating a user account or application system registration.
  5. Collect only information necessary to determine whether an individual is qualified for the position and don’t require every applicant to upload a resume (e.g., employment eligibility for substitutes, brief questions for auxiliary applicants to gain insight into an individual’s skills, knowledge, and background). Do a deeper dive if needed as individuals move through the selection process.
  6. Allow applicants to submit one application for multiple positions.
  7. Avoid the use of required fields that would prohibit an application from being accepted as complete.
  8. Collect references’ contact information only for final candidates.
  9. Provide kiosks and assistance to individuals who don’t have access to technology.
  10. Use automated messaging and notifications to inform applicant of receipt and application status.

Assess your process

Before tackling improvements, assess your current process. The best way to evaluate the applicant experience is to collect data on your existing process and establish your drop-off rate. Next, test drive your system. HR staff and others involved in the hiring process should complete an application and provide feedback on the experience. Considerations should include the time required to complete the process, difficulties in navigation, number of clicks required, requests for unnecessary or redundant information, and barriers that discourage applicants from completing the process. This data can be used to help HR simplify and improve the experience.


April is an assistant director at TASB HR Services. Send April an email at april.mabry@tasb.org.


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Tagged: Hiring, Recruiting