The Weighted Application Blank  (WAB)

What is a weighted application blank?
A weighted application blank (WAB) is an approach to collecting and scoring background information from job applicants.  It involves scoring applicant background in a quantitative manner based on the proven "best responses" to each application item.

Why is the weighted application blank superior to traditional application forms?
The WAB is distinguished from traditional application forms in three important ways:
  1. The Items on the WAB are selected based on their demonstrated relevancy for the job(s) for which applicants are being evaluated,
  2. Best responses to each item are determined based on scientific data, as opposed to the guesswork and assumptions that sometimes guide the development of traditional application forms, and
  3. Weights are assigned to each applicant response, and scores are totaled, thus permitting a quantitative comparison of each applicant.

What is the process of building a weighted application blank?
  1. Choose the criterion.
  2. Identify criterion groups among the employees in your study (i.e., a "good" group of employees you wish to have more employees to be like, and a "poor" group you do not wish to have more employees to be like.
  3. Select the items that you will evaluate to possible inclusion in the WAB.
  4. Specify response categories for each potential item.
  5. Compare responses to each item between the "good" group and the "poor" group, and determine weights.

Can the same weighted application blank be used for all jobs within the organization?
Not usually.  Weighted application blanks should be created for each job or job family which has distinct job requirements so that it can provide the maximum predictive power.  While seeming to create a great disadvantage to WAB's, the reality is that traditional application forms should be similarly customized (as a targeted application blank).  The fact that many organizations use the same application form for most or all jobs within the organization is indefensible based on known, scientific evidence.

Is it necessary for an organization to hire consultants in order to develop and use weighted application blanks?
That depends on what expertise is available within the organization.  The process of developing WAB's is not too difficult compared to the development of some other selection instruments (such as assessment centers), but the individual(s) who design the WAB must be thoroughly knowledgeable in all aspect of WAB design and scoring.  Most often, organizations would need some outside assistance, but consultant fees would not be prohibitive, and once developed a set of WAB's could be utilized for many years with no additional outside investment required.