What to Ask on Job Applications

Applications can be as simple or as detailed as you want to make them. You can design them any way that you want. Remember that you're going to have to read them all, so make sure you don't ask for information that you don't need.

Business Tools

The Business Tools area includes a sample application form that you might want to use.

Also, if your business is subject to federal or state antidiscrimination laws, it's even more important to be sure that you ask only for what is required by business necessity. If a question is on an application form, it will be assumed that it is there because you want to know the answer in order to make an employment decision. As with all important business documents, we recommend that you run the application past your attorney before you start using it.

Permissible requests for information. Here's a list of specific information that you can ask for and, when phrasing is important, how to ask it.


If you are going to ask if the applicant has ever been known by any other name, do so in the work experience section so the applicant understands that you need this information in order to perform accurate reference and record checks.


However, if you ask about child care, you must question men as well as women and treat the answers the same. If you pursue this dangerous line of questioning, do so in the interview rather than on the employment application.


Try asking "Have you ever committed the crimes of theft, fraud, embezzlement, larceny, or other related crimes?" If the answer is yes, you could follow up in the interview, or you could provide another form asking more detailed questions if the applicant was actually convicted of a crime.

If the job vacancy requires significant customer contact or contact with the public, requires carrying a weapon, or gives access to significant amounts of money or valuables, you have a right and a responsibility to ask more detailed questions about the applicant's criminal record. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has suggested that you include the following statement near the inquiry:

"Conviction of a crime will not necessarily be a bar to employment. Factors such as age at the time of the offense, type of offense, remoteness of the offense in time, and rehabilitation will be taken into account in determining effect on suitability for employment."


You can sometimes spot problems, too, if the applicant has worked many places in a short time. This may be a sign of a "job jumper." You shouldn't make a decision based on that information, but it can be helpful.