Looking for a job can take a lot of time. It can be tempting to skip over parts of the application process to save on time. This includes those additional questions that employers ask as part of the application process. Some of these questions can require highly involved answers that take a lot of time. This is what you need to know about those job application questions before you decide to say "See Resume" and move on.
What the Additional Job Applications Questions Are
The additional questions asked by employers during the interview process are a screening tool. Employers can opt to add specific questions when they post a job on their careers page or on commercial job boards. These questions can range from simple Y/N to complex multiple-page answers. In each case, the employer had decided to ask these questions to filter candidates using a tool beyond the resume. In many cases, the employer will be asking these questions to determine if they should even look at your resume. Accordingly, you must answer the question completely in order to have an opportunity t make it to the next step in the process.
Who Asks these Questions
The additional questions in the job application process are increasingly common. Most job boards now include a step in the process where they suggest additional questions to the person posting the job. As a result, there are now fields in the applicant tracking systems of employers to capture this data from the job boards. So, it has become easier for employers to require applicants to complete this additional step.
The simple or more straightforward questions are often found on the commercial ob boards (i.e. Indeed, LinkedIn, Ziprecruiter, etc.). So, you will find these types of direct screening questions by most employers now when they post a job.
However, the more involved questions are also increasing. For a long time, this was most common with government job applications. However, more employers in the private sector are using these additional, more complex questions in their application processes. It is seen as a tool to filter out candidates based on fit, skill, and commitment. These are frequently asked in the job posting or on the organization's career site. You may or may not be able to upload additional documents with these answers. There may also be character or page limits tied to these answers. Regardless of form or location, you need to fully answer these questions to have a chance at an interview for the position.
Why Employers Require these Answers
All employers use those additional job application questions to filter candidates. This happens for a couple of reasons. First, with the ease of online applications and the Great Resignation, the number of candidates applying to jobs has skyrocketed. So, employers use the additional job applications to sift through all of those applications.
Second, employers understand that candidates may not know what they are looking for on your resume or that you won't customize it for each job. So, employers use these additional questions to filter candidates because they don't want to rely on the ATS to find the most important details about the candidate. Thus, the additional applications questions are designed to give the applicants the chance to say whether they meet the qualifications for the job.
Third, the employer may ask more involved questions as a written job interview. These employers are looking to evaluate your writing skills, your fit for their organization, and your ability to do the job. You will need to convey all of the key details in your answer to convince the person reading your answer that they should interview you.
With this in mind, the following breaks down exactly how to answer the additional job application questions.
How to Best Answer
The right way to answer the additional job application question will depend on the specific question that is being asked. Fundamentally, these questions fall into a few categories. Below is the right way to answer each type of question that employers can be asked.
Yes / No.
The most common additional job application question is the Yes or No. This is a simple answer that indicates whether you meet a particular qualification or not. You shouldn't overrepresent yourself in answering this question. You either have the particular skill or experience or you don't. And, if you find that you are answering no to any of these additional qualifying job applications, then you are probably wasting your time in completing the application. This is because the employer has probably set the system to automatically reject applications that do not meet the required qualifications.
However, if there is ambiguity or you have an argument to be made that you do have such experience, then it is ok to say yes so you get the chance to explain that answer. This will enable the employer to make their own determination on your qualifications for the position.
The multiple-choice answer should also be pretty clear in how to answer it. You should be honest in making your selection. The options may not perfectly fit your experience or skills, but you should pick the option that is as close as possible. You should also make sure that your resume matches up with the options that you are choosing. If not, there's a chance that the employer will reject your application in the review stage as it isn't clear how you meet the requirements.
Simple Answers (1 - 2 lines)
Employers will also ask some job application questions that require a little information. These free-type answers will have limited characters and are looking for the candidate to get right to the point. In answering these questions, make sure that you include the information that directly answers the question that is asked. Do not simply type "See Resume" here. If that is all the employer wanted to do, then they wouldn't have taken the time to ask the additional job application question. Instead, include the details that the employer is looking for so that you incentivize the employer or its applicant tracking system to look at your resume.
Make sure that you keep a copy of the question that is asked and your typed answer. You can expect that this topic will come up in some fashion in the interviewing process. Not all ATS programs will enable you to see the answers that you submit in the application process after you hit submit. So, keeping a copy of the question asked by the employer and your answer in a word document will help in your preparations for the interview with the organization.
Explanations of Your Prior Answers
There are some additional job application questions that employers ask to gain clarity in your prior answers to their other questions. This could be an explanation of why you picked "Other" in a multiple-choice question or to provide additional detail on your experience level in a particular area that was covered by the question.
Regardless of why it was asked, to answer these types of job application questions, you will need to enter complete sentences and provide the information the employer is looking for. Make sure that you do so with proper grammar, correct spelling, and that the answer fully and directly answers the question asked. You cannot presume that the person reading your answer will make any inferences. Instead, you need to provide all relevant information in the space provided. And, as noted in the prior question type, you should keep a copy of this answer to aid in your interview prep or other applications.
The knowledge-based job application questions are included by employers to determine if the candidate has the requisite skill to do the job. This could be asked in a couple of different ways. First, the question may be to simply test if you have used the concept or skill in your prior experience. So, to answer this question, you need to convey your knowledge in the particular field that is being covered. You also need to provide details about where you have used that knowledge professionally.
To do that, include specific information about your job title, the organization where you worked, and how you used the skill. Include information in this answer about all the times and places that you have used this skill. If this skill is present across your professional experience, then be sure to include examples of how you use the skill or knowledge professionally.
The other way this question could be asked is to assess your knowledge or perception of the particular concept. This could be posed in the form of a skills test. Thus, this type of knowledge-based question isn't looking for where or when you used the concept covered. Instead, it is looking for your mastery of the concept and how you use it or your overall working methods. In that case, focus on the question that is being asked and make sure that you treat it like a skills test. Take the time to think through the process and include all of that detail in your answer to the employer.
Start your work on this question in a separate document and then copy it into the field or upload the document in response. This will save you a lot of time and probably frustration in the process.
The final type of common job application question is one that is intended to assess your fit for the job, the team, and the company. This could be a situational question "Tell me about a time that you X" or it could be something aimed at your personality or work style. However the question is posed, make sure that you are answering the question that is being asked.
Just like in an interview, it can be easy to read into the question or to get stuck in thinking about what someone wants to hear. Instead, focus on answering the question honestly and fully. And, consider including an example in response to these types of questions to provide context to your overall written answer on how you apply that skill or trait in the workplace.
This is particularly important because you don't want to progress with a company where you aren't a fit. Doing so would probably only lead to more stress than it is worth and another job search in the near future. So, focus on answering these fit-based questions with honesty. And, if you can tell from the question that it isn't a fit, then move on and look for another job to apply to. Ultimately, your job search time is better spent where you are moving towards a job and organization where you want to be in the future.
Don't skip over those additional questions when you see them the next time you apply to a job. Remember, employers use these questions as filters to determine who to interview from those candidates they receive. You can save time in this process by keeping a running document with these questions and your answers. This will save you time with future applications and with your preparations for job interviews. So, invest a little more time now so that you can get the interview and you will already be prepared for it.
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