Finding the Ideal Registration Form

resume buildingTo be good at recruiting and staffing requires the ability to attract the right people, generate a deep understanding of their abilities and store information on them that enables you to conduct accurate searches whilst building a solid interaction history with them.

The registration form is one of the critical components of this process. Its design requires the right balance: ask too little and you won’t have the information you need to operate; ask too much and people will give up before finishing. In my experience, almost nobody pays enough attention to form design.

We measure and analyze the registration performance of our customers at Watu (typically an event/catering or promotional staffing agency). On registration with us they will dictate their bespoke form design. The forms we have go from 3 steps up to a staggering 10. Having watched tens of thousands of staffer registrations, we have interesting insight into who abandons the registration process:

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Each bar indicates which step they dropped out, and the different colors correlate to the length of the form. You can see that no matter how long the form is, the majority of applicants are giving up after the first step. The steep increase in dropouts in steps 3 and 4 is surprising, possibly explained by forms becoming more complex as they progress, but this is just speculation.

That is only part of the picture, though. It’s good to understand how many abandon the process at each step but we have to put it into perspective by taking into account how many people reach the end of the process. We can see that information in this chart:

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Each bar corresponds to how long the form is (denoted by the number below it), the first bar having 3 registration steps, for instance. In each bar, green indicates how many people managed to complete the form, red represents the percentage of people dropping out and each shade of red represents the step in which they dropped out.

That chart is more or less as expected, forms with fewer steps are more successful than forms with more steps, but I have to admit the trend is not as steep as I expected.

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Let’s keep in mind, this is just an overview of general behavior. You shouldn’t make any changes to your registration form without measuring its own performance first. For example, this is some of the analytics we provide at Watu:

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In this particular case, I would say, based on what we learned from general behavior (we would expect most people dropping out at step 1), that there might be some serious issue with step 3. Maybe it’s confusing, or asking for something people really don’t want to talk about. Or maybe step 3 is the one filtering people you don’t really want, but you cannot know that until you look at the data and analyze the form.

In conclusion, your registration process and profiling form is of far greater importance than current behavior would otherwise illustrate.  It pays dividend to focus on developing the perfect form, a form that keeps the applicant engaged, requests the appropriate information, and delivers a great candidate profile post application.  Greatness is in the detail, in this case, it’s in the registration form.

MORE: It’s all about the candidate

J. Pablo Fernández

J. Pablo Fernández
J. Pablo Fernandez is a software programmer and entrepreneur. After working at Google for a few years, he co-founded Watu, a startup creating an application for temporary staffing businesses, where he is CTO.

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