by Ann Kontner
All HR professionals know that having candidates complete an employment application is a very important step in the hiring process. Employment applications not only collect employment history and educational information on potential candidates, but can also be used to inform applicants of the company’s equal employment opportunity and at-will employment policies. Even if an employer requests that candidates submit a resume for a position opening, the completion of an employment application at the interview meeting should be standard hiring practice for all companies.
Given the importance of this step in the new hire process, it is recommended that companies do an annual review of their employment application form to ensure that it is up-to-date with federal regulations and human resources best practices. A well-designed employment application will include the following:
When completing the review of the application form, it is just as important to recognize those items that should NOT be included on an employment application, such as:
Also, while it is not unlawful to do so, due to identity theft and general privacy concerns, an employer should not require applicants to provide their social security number when completing an employment application form. It is advisable to wait until the background check process begins or completion of tax and benefits plan forms before requesting a social security number, and even then procedures should be in place to make sure that all personal information is kept confidential.
Often employment application forms used by companies today are a boilerplate template from a book or downloaded from the Internet. There is no harm in this, however, extra care should be taken to make sure that the application conforms to both the industry of the employer, as well as the state where employment will take place. It is also a good idea to have all employment application forms reviewed by a labor attorney to reduce the potential for claims of discrimination due to disparate impact.
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