You don’t have to use an application form and there is no rule about when to use it. You can ask people to fill out application forms at different times, for example:
- your job advertisement can ask applicants to use one; this is often provided with the job description
- you can send an application form to applicants who you have short-listed before you make the final selection of applicants to interview
- you can give out an application form when you arrange the interview or when people arrive for the interview.
Advantages of application forms
The advantages of an application form are it:
- provides you with information you need to help with your selection
- provides an opportunity for the applicant to give their contact details
- can include any required qualifications, such as tertiary institute grades or trade qualifications. You would usually ask for certified copies of these
- can include other important questions in the application form, such as any relevant responsibilities in previous jobs
- can be used to verify the applicants’ residency status and work visas
- can include a declaration that all information relevant to the job has been provided and nothing has been left out. You should discuss this with each applicant you interview so that they understand the importance of the declaration. It may be used if there is a dispute about nondisclosure or misrepresentation
- can have an authority for the applicant to sign so you can contact referees and do security, credit or criminal conviction checks, where these are a requirement of the job
- can explain the hiring process, for example, that all the terms of any offer of employment are in the written job offer. This can avoid issues, such as with applicants saying that you made binding verbal agreements during hiring.
When using an application form, it is important that the information asked for and the language skills required are at a literacy level appropriate to the position to be filled.
You must keep confidential all material provided by unsuccessful applicants.
The Privacy Commissioner's website (external link) has more detailed information about privacy.
Acknowledging job applications
It is good practice to contact all applicants to advise the next step in the process (eg shortlisting those to be interviewed). This includes advising applicants if they have been unsuccessful. Doing this in writing or email will limit misunderstandings.
Confidentiality of applications
You need to make sure you protect the confidentiality and privacy of applicants. Disclosing an applicant’s details without their consent, even by accident, will breach the Privacy Act 1993 and could ruin your relationship with them. Do not leave messages with other people unless the applicant has agreed. Make sure you put “confidential” on the front of any written communications. Ask for preferred contact details on application forms.
Tips for job applicants
If you see or hear about a job that you think you would be good at and you want to apply, you should apply using the process that the employer has outlined in, for example, an online job advertisement. If the job is in an industry that has high turnover and recruits often, you could approach the employer directly even if they have not advertised.
The CareersNZ website (external link) can help you apply for jobs.