The employment application is an important part of the hiring process, for it provides employers with clear and relevant information about applicants. An application is also a legal document and it becomes a part of a person's permanent file once they are hired. For this reason, the employment application must be thoroughly and carefully reviewed by a qualified attorney before it is used.


Applications contain questions designed to help the employer make a hiring decision. In essence, they reorganize the information the employer typically finds on a resume while also furnishing additional information that can be helpful in making hiring decisions. Application contents typically include the following:

Because there are many other types of information that a company may want to ask on its application, depending on the business which is designing the form, it is always advisable to have legal counsel review the form before using it for applicants.


There are several possible pitfalls in designing an application form. On an application form, it is not permissible to pursue any of the following lines of questioning:


The application should be given to every person applying for a position from outside the company. It should be required regardless of level of position, so that all potential employees have a similar experience and receive similar treatment. Normally, a separate, abbreviated application form is used for people who are already employed by the company who wish to apply for positions elsewhere within the company.

Some laws require employers to retain applications—whether the person is hired or not—for up to one year after the date the application is made. The employer is not usually required to reconsider the applications on file as new positions become available, but they must have record of the applications made to the company. Applications become a part of the permanent record of the employee once hired. Increasingly, these employee records are held in electronic files.


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Messmer, Max. "The Delicate Art of Reference Checking." Business Credit. May 1999.

Schmitt, Diane Festino. "The HR Files." Credit Union Management. February 1996.

SEE ALSO: Employee Hiring

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