How do I write custom application questions?

When defining the application requirements, you can decide what questions applicants have to answer before they can submit their application and whether the questions are mandatory or not. 

You can choose to add questions asking for a candidate’s:

  • Photo
  • Phone number
  • Cover letter 

You can also ask custom questions that can help you decide which candidates to move to the next stage of the hiring process. Gathering job-relevant information from candidates can help you assess their qualifications, skills, and fit for the role. 

Here is what to have in mind when writing custom questions:

  • Identify what information you need to assess in candidates. 
  • Frame questions in a job-relevant way to help you evaluate whether candidates meet the requirements.
  • Use open-ended questions to encourage candidates to provide detailed responses.
  • Focus on behavioral and situational questions to understand candidates’ past experiences and thought processes.
  • Be mindful of potential biases and/or suggestions in your questions to ensure everyone has a fair chance.
  • Keep the number of questions reasonable and select those that provide the most relevant information.
  • Create a standardized grading process to assess candidates’ responses consistently.
  • Ensure your custom questions comply with all legal requirements.

Here are some examples of good custom question approaches:

  • How would you explain [job-relevant construct] to someone outside of the field?
  • How do you expect [a certain aspect of your industry] to develop in the next decade?
  • How would you assess the quality of [job-relevant product or output], what criteria would you use?
  • How would you approach [a complex job-relevant process]? 
  • How would you compare [a job-relevant process or construct] and [another one]?

It is important to mention that custom application questions focus on gathering more information about candidates via open-ended questions. This type of question significantly differs from screening questions, which typically address the must-have qualifications a candidate needs to have to be considered for the position in the first place. More information on screening questions is available in the article ‘How do I define screening questions?’.