Chances are, at some point in your career, you’ve filled out a grueling online job application, cycling through endless drop-down menus, text fields and document-upload prompts, wondering when that final “submit” button would appear. You might have even given up out of frustration and moved on to a different opportunity.

Lengthy and complicated online job applications are more a norm than a rarity, but many employers underestimate the impact these frustrating processes can have on their recruitment efforts. As we often do at Indeed, we turned to data to better understand the state of online applications today, and what we found can help you improve your own process to win more top performers.

Your application could be driving away the best candidates

We measured the apply time for every Fortune 500 company and found that they varied widely, with the longest at 52 minutes, the shortest at one minute, and a median time of 13 minutes. If you’re wondering why many companies’ applications take so long to fill out, we think we have a good idea: Our research found the average Fortune 500 company’s application includes a whopping 62.8 screener questions.

No one wants to trudge through a long and complicated application process, and the longer yours is, the more top talent you risk losing. A recent study found that 30% of candidates and 57% of those earning $100K or more won’t spend longer than 15 minutes on an application. Our research shows companies with 45 or more screener questions are losing the vast majority, or 88.7%, of their potential applicants who abandon the process before completion.

In today’s labor market, employers can’t afford to lose the best applicants before they’ve even finished applying. “Keep your apply process simple,” says Indeed Senior Vice President Paul D’Arcy. “Otherwise, you’re not going to be able to choose from top talent. You’re just going to be choosing from people who are desperate enough to go through your application process.”

Short and simple is becoming the new standard

Some companies are adopting application experiences that rival top ecommerce sites for simplicity, usability and brevity. As more job seekers encounter fast, easy online applications from these industry leaders, they’ll increasingly judge your company against this new standard.

Netflix provides the simplest application of all, with just five screener questions and a one-minute apply time, regardless of whether you’re applying for an entry-level or senior-level role. Salesforce, which Indeed recently ranked as the top place to work based on employee satisfaction, also supplies one of the fastest applications, at three minutes and 16 screener questions. The ranks of the fastest processes also include sought-after tech employers Apple, Facebook and Amazon.

In one example of a successful application overhaul, AT&T reduced screener questions by half. As a result, the company saw applicant drop off decline by 55% and received 100,000 more quality applicants.

The top companies offering the fastest online job application process.
The top companies offering the fastest online job application process are Netflix at 1 minute, Salesforce at 3 minutes, Intel at 4 minutes, Apple at 5 minutes, Cisco at 6.25 minutes, Facebook at 8 minutes, CocaCola at 8 minutes and Amazon at 9 minutes.

3 tips to improve your online job application

  1. Use fewer screener questions. We found applications with 20 screener questions lose 40% of applicants, and the abandonment rate only goes up from there. Pare down screener questions until you’re left with those that collect pertinent data that you’ll actually use to make better hiring decisions.
  2. Simplify the process across the board. Make your application experience easy and intuitive by providing a clean user interface and fewer screens to click through. To remove barriers to completion, don’t force job seekers to supply references or create a user account until necessary.
  3. Make it mobile friendly. Today 44% of job seekers on Indeed search only from a mobile device, but 56% of Fortune 500 companies’ application processes are not mobile friendly. Optimize your applications for smartphone or tablet screens to capture more of the top candidates you need.