I am looking for work, and have been given a link to a company's application system by a recruiter.

The process is frankly ridiculous. I am applying for software developer roles with software development companies. This company in particular is responsible for end-user applications, so you'd think they'd have a simple, intuitive system for applying for a job with them. Not so.

It has asked what is the highest level of education I have achieved - three times (it later seems to extract my education data from my CV anyway). It first asks me in which city I am wiling to work, and then later asks me in what continental region I am willing to work. It accepts a submitted CV, but then insists on me writing a plain text CV (when it has already extracted data from the submitted CV apparently without issue).

Is the fact a software company's own application process is awful a red flag?

  • 6
    Did the company design and deploy their own application process or is this a product that the company bought/licenses and uses?
    – dfundako
    Jun 21, 2018 at 14:56
  • @dfundako Good question. I'm not sure, but the fact the URL contains "taleo.net" (which redirects to oracle on its own) implies the answer is no. They are a multinational listed on the stock exchange, whose 2015 revenue was around $6bln. For context.
    – user50744
    Jun 21, 2018 at 15:01
  • 8
    Unless the company is in the business of selling applicant tracking systems, buying is a better solution than building their own (build what makes you unique; buy what doesn't). Why an HR department would opt into the user experience and quality of Taleo to make a positive impression on applicants...that's another story.
    – alroc
    Jun 21, 2018 at 15:29
  • 3
    If you can get through the painful application process, that means they have already weeded out the the less dedicated.
    – user41891
    Jun 21, 2018 at 15:50
  • 2
    No. A lot of companies outsource this functionality to save money. Some companies foolishly do not look to closely at the applicant / on boarding process.
    – Neo
    Jun 22, 2018 at 11:29

7 Answers 7


Not neccessarily, they're using an external portal (taleo) to collect applications, so this isn't a part of the company (and they most probably don't have any control over taleo to improve/tailor that experience).

Go for the job, and then you can get a better idea of what the company is really like, rather than just this one (externally hosted) portal they use.

You can then bring up the subject of the portal experience and see what they say about it.


There is an old saying. "The cobbler's children go barefoot".

The LAST thing that should be a red flag would be the company's own systems.

Contractors have half-finished projects all through the house, a mechanic has three of his cars sitting hallway repaired, et cetera.

It only means that they put their own systems last, which usually means that customers come first

  • Ha. I had the cobblers children in my answer too.
    – Ben Mz
    Jun 21, 2018 at 15:09
  • 1
    @BenMz Oh, sorry, didn't mean to steal your thunder. gave you a +1 to compensate Jun 21, 2018 at 15:24
  • The cobbler's children go barefoot -- Excellent quote.
    – Neo
    Jun 22, 2018 at 11:35

As counter-intuitive as it may seem, in many software developing companies they are actually loathe to let their own developers work on their own websites/applications, for the very simple reason that any time spent on this project is time they are not billable.

This often leads to some poor guy in the marketing department either trying to put something together themselves, or to paying some 'nephew of the boss' sized shop to cobble something together on a shoestring budget.

In short, it can be a reflection of the quality of the work that this company puts out, but with the huge amount of cases where this isn't true, it's not a valid assumption to make. Your best bet is just to go for the interview and to ask your own questions to find out what the standard of quality is in the company, possibly by including a question on what they think about the application you encountered.

  • According to comments this is an externally (Oracle) hosted application portal. This isn't built by the company the OP is applying for.
    – user44108
    Jun 21, 2018 at 15:13
  • @Snow Hosted on a cloud service does not indicate the application was not built by the company.
    – paparazzo
    Jun 21, 2018 at 15:56

Its a good sign.

Good companies invest where they can grow revenue and are frugal elsewhere. This company has chosen not to invest where it doesn’t make a difference. Sure it is a little frustrating to use this software but I suspect that it doesn’t effect the candidates they interview therefore they don’t need change it.

I wouldn’t judge how they build software by the software they use for business functions like this. If fact I worry when software companies try to build in-house software for tasks like HR. That’s not core to the business and they are wasting opportunities by having developers work on something they could easily outsource. There is a good reason the cobbler’s children have holes in their shoes.

One word of caution is to judge whether they are foolishly frugal. Saving on HR software is good, saving on software for revenue generating systems is bad. Do the developers have good workstations? Do they have the necessary infrastructure for disaster recovery or staging and testing environments? Ask questions about these things.


Barring a software development company that sells software specifically making the application process more streamlined, this should not be a red flag.

Most software companies, in my experience, leave the application process to their HR department, with only technical interviews being handled by other parts of the company. Therefore, rather than use productive time and resources to generate an applications form, they will tend to buy/license an external companies product instead, with the HR manager deciding which product to use. (this obviously does not apply when the company in question is the one producing said product).


Yes it is a red flag. It is an indication of the quality culture of the company.

HR often is fairly autonomous. The question is if culture is limited to HR. If you get the interview observe. Ask some probing question like do you code review? How does employee feedback work? If you get more red flags then probably not a good fit. If you don't get any more red flags then just ignore problem application process.

  • Down votes not even going to ask.
    – paparazzo
    Jun 21, 2018 at 18:41
  • This answer doesn't really address the user's question as to WHY this would be a red flag. Jun 21, 2018 at 20:12
  • Not downvoting, but I disagree, I work for a company that I consider to have a good culture, but HR, Marketing, etc. all use different systems, occasionally a dev will get fed up with a system, and spend some of their own time making something better, but unless that happens, you just have to put up with things like Survey Monkey, or whatever system the Marketing/whatever team decide to use. You could spend a lot of time making their systems better, but is it really worth the effort? Jun 27, 2018 at 11:52

It depends on the job you are looking for. Some answers state that is good sign because a company may not want to spend time or money on not the main functions and decided to invest somewhere else instead. But then we can ask: is this company profitable enough? Does it have well established and fluent processes or its employees are always in a rush do the main tasks? Will your data be processed properly and securely? - Proper application process shouldn't be a big deal for a solid company.

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