Employment Application: Is this a trick question?
December 27, 2015 9:53 PM   Subscribe

Employment history section of an online job application states: You must complete all sections and answer all questions as they pertain to you, even if you are attaching a resume. Misrepresentation or omission of facts called for may be grounds for not employing you, or dismissing you after employment. But not every field in the form is required. Do I need to fill out each field despite this?

The following fields are denoted as "required" with an asterisk:
Employer Name, Job Title, Reason for Leaving, May we contact this employer?

However, the following fields are not:
Address, City, State, Begin Date/End Date, Major Duties, Starting Salary, Ending Salary, Supervisor Name, Supervisor Title, Supervisor Telephone #

Leaving some (e.g. salary) of the non-required fields blank seems that it would be contradictory to the application instructions. On the other hand, if they really wanted the information, wouldn't it be designed as required (I've encountered applications where it was)? Do the hiring managers who create these forms think this through or are they trying to trip up applicants? Argh!
posted by tastycracker to Work & Money (10 answers total)
No, that's a sentence that leaves the option open for them to sack you if you lie to them (like if you claim to have qualifications you don't have). They're not trying to trip you up.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 10:09 PM on December 27, 2015 [6 favorites]

I think this means they want you to fill in the required sections and not write, "See resume."

No tricks here.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:04 PM on December 27, 2015 [7 favorites]

They are not trying to trip you up. What could they possibly gain by playing tricks? Assume the positive: they are trying to get as much information as possible in as standardized a format as possible so as to get through the process as quickly as possible. Is there some reason you don't want to fill in the non-required fields? Other than salary, those seem pretty innocuous and information that you should have to hand.
posted by Beti at 1:21 AM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nth'ing "not a trick". The people who wrote the program/web page just haven't had this pointed out to them (or would respond with "Oh, people know what we mean...").
posted by Etrigan at 5:11 AM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Some of the fields may not be required because not everybody will remember all the details, and if companies have reorganized, moved, or ceased to exist, it might be impossible to find out.
posted by nalyd at 8:28 AM on December 28, 2015

Best answer: They're covering their ass, or rather, giving themselves a way to terminate you for cause later on if they find out that you've misrepresented something significant. Omitting, for example, the three years you were employed while in prison would constitute significant. Omitting the street address of the headquarters of AT&T where you worked for three years would not.

Use your judgment about what to complete, giving them the essentials, and omitting facts only if they're truly unimportant, or if you need to be able to bring them forward tactically (as in a salary negotiation).
posted by Capri at 8:43 AM on December 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I usually read that is, this all is what we're interested in, if you want to tell us. The asterisked things, we have to know or we won't have enough to even consider you further.

Some people do want to put salary expectations up front to avoid wasting time on hopeless cases, and they're giving a place to do that.
posted by ctmf at 12:03 PM on December 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

If they're trying to trick you, you probably don't want to work there.
posted by jeffamaphone at 1:10 PM on December 28, 2015

Response by poster: By 'trick' or 'trip' I meant not trying to deliberately sabotage applicants; but use their (non) responses as a way to eliminate candidates from the applicant pool.

For instance, I once filled out a similar application and the rejection time was SO fast (about 2 days, compared to 1-2 months, or no response at all for other apps), that upon review I have good reason to think I was rejected just for not following instructions along similar lines (i.e. fill out everything like we told you to or we won't even consider you).

posted by tastycracker at 9:46 PM on December 28, 2015

Unless the job is about filling out adversarial paperwork, using the paperwork itself rather than it's contents to screen candidates counts as deliberately sabotaging applicants. That language is there for when they fire people for lying by omission on their application. If you can't remember your boss's phone number that's not unusual, I'm confident my best employees don't know my desk number, and I sure as shit don't let the public find it. If you prefer not to disclose your salary, that's a reasonable thing to do. Sometimes applicants are contractually prohibited from discussing it!

As for why you've been screened out before, there's countless possible reasons. Some really shitty jobs DO screen people out. For example, I hear Best Buy used to screen applicants by time it took to apply, so I'm pretty sure I got dinged for not having my SSN memorized and having to find my card. But it's also possible you didn't meet the criteria, or they already filled the position internally but never closed it. Or the company put in a hiring freeze.
posted by pwnguin at 11:43 PM on January 2, 2016

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