Let’s face it—applying for jobs is up there with doing your taxes and standing in line to renew your passport.
Trying to inject a healthy dose of personality into a cover letter while conforming to a rigid job spec isn’t the most exciting way to spend an evening. And navigating a sea of blank text boxes asking you things like “Tell us about yourself” isn’t much better.
But it’s not just candidates who feel the application aggravation—a generic hiring process can lead to cookie-cutter responses from applicants. This means a lack of good info to go on when deciding who makes it to the interview.
Think about it: as a recruiter, your goal is to get to know someone.
Interviews allow you to do this the old-fashioned way—face to face. The candidate can respond to body language, talk with passion about how they would solve problems, and maybe even slip in a joke or two.
Ever managed to make a form crack a smile? Didn’t think so.
Userlane stopped short of fitting their application form with facial features, but they still added some of the warmth and nuance of interviews to the early stages of their hiring process.
Here’s how they did it.
The problem with perfect people
Meet Andy Mura, Head of Marketing at Userlane. Andy has a problem that, hopefully, you have too:
“We receive hundreds of awesome applications every month. And that’s great! But most of them seem perfect, and the luxury of having too much choice can lead to paralysis.”
Must be hard to sleep at night knowing you work for a company that attracts so many talented people, right?
But that’s not Andy’s only concern.
Userlane creates interactive software for user and employee onboarding “to bring guidance to the chaotic world of user experience.” They know better than most that first impressions are important.
And there are better ways to greet someone than “Describe your previous experience in 200 characters.”
“We wanted to go beyond the ‘sterile’ and formal communication that characterizes job applications to really get to know people.”
Here’s an example of what Andy’s talking about:
In other words, while Userlane’s mission is to “close the gap between humans and machines,” they needed a tool that would help them close the gap between humans and humans.
So they turned to Typeform.
And how do they know candidates will be put at ease by the software?
“Respondents are led to focus on one question at a time while maintaining an overview of the entire process. This has a powerful psychological effect on concentration.”
By constructing their applications like conversations, Userlane was able to build a rapport with applicants without resorting to emailing them a copy of ‘handshake-1.gif.’
But using typeforms isn’t only about making potential Userlaners feel more comfortable. They’re also used to ask more technical questions, or to describe hypothetical situations when testing a candidate’s decision-making:
“We use logic jumps to create a more targeted conversation. This way, we can ask more specific questions based on a candidate’s skills, offering a glimpse into their personality.”
By having the questions change based on an applicant’s answers, Userlane was able to mimic a conversation that might happen in an interview. Pretty cool right?
So far, so good—the lucky applicants have poured their hearts and souls into the typeforms.
What happens next?
Those hearts and souls get beamed to Slack via a Zapier integration.
Then the Userlane team dissects the respondents’ answers in forensic detail, mocking any errors with emojis.
Just kidding. Here’s Andy again:
“We color code answers using a traffic light system, and all the people involved can argue in favor of or against particular responses. Most of the time there are no right or wrong answers—we just assess them against our own corporate culture.”
This means any ambiguous answers are flagged yellow and discussed in more detail, while the rest are quickly identified as compatible or incompatible with Userlane’s values.
Sounds like the ideal system to stop a backlog of perfect applications from turning into a traffic jam.
The hardest part of the process? Figuring out which questions to ask.
Andy needs to acquire the most insightful information possible. But they shouldn’t take forever to complete—you don’t want to scare off great candidates before you even get to meet them.
The trick is to keep the questions as precise as possible without sacrificing their conversational tone. And if changes are needed? No problem.
Of course, a form can never fully replace a face-to-face conversation. But if you’re tired of reading the same old cover letters from “highly motivated,” “solution focused” people who can “work independently or as part of a team,” maybe it’s time to ask yourself:
How could you spice up your hiring process?