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Considerations of a Mobile-First Recruitment Process

Mobile compatible hiring programs are complex. Some basic considerations can support HR and Recruiting professionals in strategic design and implementation.

People are using mobile phones to connect to the internet as much as a desktop computer these days. As of August 2020, 46% of Americans accessed the internet via mobile phone and 50% via desktop computer, with worldwide usage being 51% mobile phone and 46% via desktop1.

As HR professionals are beginning to ramp up recruiting efforts that are mindful of the frequently changing labor environment, mobile compatibility is worth a look in order to manage future recruiting strategies.

Let’s consider the following:

1. The Fullest Extent of Your Mobile Compatibility

Often HR and recruiting professionals only focus on an assessment’s mobile compatibility. While well-intentioned, the push for mobile-compatible selection assessments may be sidelined by an applicant tracking system that isn’t mobile compatible, or a culture preview video on the company site that isn’t adaptive to mobile aspect ratios. Looking at the full process end-to-end is critical to understanding how big of a lift mobile compatibility may truly be for HR and recruiting professionals.

2. Knowing Your Audience

Not all candidates want to apply for a job on a mobile device. Only a Luddite would want to sit at a computer to apply for a job, right? Not true! In 2019, 93% of companies offered mobile-compatible application options for candidates, but only 17% actually took advantage of it2. The same study found that although only 17% of applicants leveraged the mobile option, having the option available increased candidates’ impressions of the company. That means that while it’s important to offer the option, it isn’t always a make-or-break situation. When in doubt, leverage candidate feedback as part of your application and recruitment process! Ask targeted questions about whether the candidate would have liked to have completed any or all of the process on one device or another, and then revisit your process.


In 2019, 93% of companies offered mobile-compatible application options for candidates, but only 17% actually took advantage of it.

3. Some Things Are Best Left *Not* ‘Mobile-Ized’

One of the big considerations of creating a mobile-friendly application process is relevance to the job. Is the process you’re looking to ‘mobile-ize’ something that employees actually have to do at a PC once hired? If candidates need to be assessed for typing skills in a call center role, consider where they’ll be typing if hired. Will it be at a mobile device or a PC? If they’ll be working at a PC much of the time, then it makes more sense to draw that parallel between the selection assessment and on-the-job requirements and have the selection assessment component specific to typing skills be completed on a non-mobile device. Likewise, if you want applicants to go through a simulation of what they’ll be doing on the job for a call center role, consider where they’ll be working once hired. More than likely, your call center teams will be working at laptops or desktops with a full keyboard and moderate-sized screen. Give your applicants as realistic an experience as possible so they can show you what they are capable of doing.

4. Communication Is Key for the Best Candidate Experience

As mentioned above, when you’re asking candidates to demonstrate their skills in a fairly realistic scenario aligned with what they’d be expected to do if hired, it’s reasonable to have those aspects of the process not be mobile compatible. Companies are able to work around these concerns in a variety of ways. One such workaround is to only administer selection assessment components that are non-mobile on-site when a candidate comes for an interview. The key to pulling this off is clear and consistent communication; setting realistic expectations around things like how much time a selection assessment should take, reminders about outstanding application requirements, how long a candidate has to complete the selection assessment once they’ve completed the application, and when to expect to hear back from a recruiter.

Whether your company is on the cutting edge of technology and innovation in recruiting or just starting with your first applicant tracking system, reviewing your process for mobile-compatibility pain points, understanding what matters to your candidates, considering face validity and job relevance, and communicating expectations are a few helpful steps to keep in mind. Curious about how SHL can support your applicant experience? Explore our offerings or contact us today.



2TalentBoard (2019). 2019 North American Candidate Experience Research Report.

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Valerie Rogers

Valerie Rogers is a Talent Solutions Consultant with nearly a decade of experience helping clients to realize their strategic vision for talent management. Reaching across a variety of industries, Valerie partners with SHL’s clients to design and execute of both pre- and post-hire initiatives, leveraging best practice and industry knowledge in job analysis and validation, interview program design and implementation, and custom virtual learning design and delivery. Valerie holds a B.A. in Psychology and Philosophy, and an M.A. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology with emphasis on employment practices and training and development.

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