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300+ Questions to Ask About an Applicant Tracking System

The ultimate list of ATS questions - updated for Q3 2023

Phil Strazzulla
HR Tech Expert, Harvard MBA, Software Enthusiast
Contributing Experts
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Questions to ask ATS Vendors

Practitioners shouldn’t feel shy about taking charge on an ATS software demo. Granted, the salesperson is adept at giving you an efficient overview of what the product does and how it’ll fit into your overall HRTech stack,  but you know your business best.

Whether you're demoing an ATS for small business or your budget is tight and you're getting some info on free ATS systems, you should come armed with queries.  If you’re at a loss for words, here is what we could consider the ultimate list of questions to ask an applicant tracking system vendor on a demo:

ATS Career Site Questions

  • Does the ATS host a careers site?
  • Does it contain microsites for regions, roles, D&I initiatives?
  • Is there a talent community or pipelining functionality?
  • Can we customize the site?  How?
  • Can we designate "hot" jobs for prominent exposure?
  • How are duplicate CVs handled?
  • Are there automated emails for different parts of the candidate journey?

ATS Candidate Experience Questions

  • Does the ATS have search and review open positions on employment web site (by function, location, keyword etc.)?
  • Can candidates apply through LinkedIn?
  • Does the ATS allow users to create and save a profile for future consideration?
  • Are there different resume/CV forms for different types of candidates (external, internal, employee referral, agency, etc.)?
  • Can a Candidate can create anonymous profile?
  • Does the ATS allow candidate to store resume/CV for future use?
  • Does the ATS allow candidates to store more than one resume/CV?
  • Can a candidate update resume/CV or profile after creation?
  • Can candidates e-mail a job to a friend?
  • Can candidates apply to multiple positions with single resume/CV submission?
  • Is there a chatbot built in?
  • Can we limit the number of requisitions a candidate can apply for?
  • Can we include customizable 'terms and conditions' and require acceptance prior to accepting resumes/CV?
  • Can candidates can get on-line assistance when applying or creating their profile?
  • Can we add pre-screen questions to assist candidates in self selection process (i.e. skills requirements)?
  • Can candidates can view their application status (i.e. reviewed, not reviewed, does not meet minimum qualifications, etc.)?
  • Can candidates can set criteria for automatic notifications of new positions that fit their interest?
  • Does the ATS extract and parse data from candidate resume/CV submission?
  • Does the ATS allow employees to track progress of their referral submissions via automated emails?
  • Does the ATS do duplicate checking to inform employees if their referral is already in the database?
  • Does the ATS provide guidance to candidates on how to submit ATS-friendly resumes?
A candidate completing pre-screening questions set by an application tracking systemt

ATS Recruiting Agency Interface Questions

  • How does the ATS interact with recruiting agencies?
  • Can it assign requisitions to a single agency or a group of agencies, and notify them automatically when requisition is ready?
  • Does the ATS ensure that only authorized agencies are given access to submit resumes/CVs?
  • Does the ATS control which requisitions the agency can use to submit resumes/CVs?
  • Can the ATS notify agencies if the resume/CV they are submitting is already in the company database?
  • Can the ATS Record the agency name on the resume/CV form to track agency effectiveness?
  • Can the ATS route resumes/CVs directly to hiring managers or to recruiting for review first?
  • Can the ATS allow agencies to update and remove resumes/CVs?
  • Can the ATS associate contractors with specific requisitions to ensure correct billing?

ATS Creating Requisitions Questions

  • Can you clone an existing req?
  • Can you save reqs and complete later?
  • Can both recruiter and hiring manager can create a requisition?
  • Is there automatic notification of requisition creation to assigned recruiter?
  • Can a recruiter create a requisition from template library?
  • Can the ATS generate requisitions with one opening or multiple openings?
  • Is there an option to delegate requisition creation to another recruiter?
  • Can you allow different steps for creating requisition for internal employees and external candidates?
  • Are there user defined fields on requisition form?
  • Is there a drop down menu of job codes which populates relevant requisition fields?
  • Can the ATS accept job codes from the HR Information System (HRIS)?
  • Can the ATS assign pre-screening questions to requisition?
  • Can the ATS track changes made by users to requisition?
  • Can the ATS link requisitions to a searchable job description database (either imported from HRIS or created in the system)
  • Can the ATS generate job description database as requisitions are entered?
  • Can the ATS create user groups and limit user access to enter, edit, and view requisition forms and records?

Approving Requisitions ATS Questions

  • Can the ATS generate job description database as requisitions are entered?
  • Can the ATS automatically release requisition for recruiting upon ultimate approval?
  • Can the ATS route the requisition through defined approval process (multiple levels of approval, intelligent routing)?
  • Can the ATS have independent routing of requisitions by department or user (e.g. Finance department routing is different than that of Sales)?
  • Can the ATS provide E-mail notification/reminders of required attention to approvers?
  • Can the req be approved by HR if it is stalled in the approval process?
  • Can the ATS have approval of a requisition without logging in to ATS (e.g. e-mail approval)?

Searching Requisitions ATS Questions

  • Can the req be approved by HR if it is stalled in the approval process?
  • Can the ATS allow for search of candidate database for matches (both recruiters and managers)?
  • Can the database be parsed by user defined fields (i.e. zip code, education, company name, test scores, etc.)?
  • Can the ATS allow for intelligent matching of requisition requirements to resumes/CVs?
  • Can the ATS search candidates by application status (responded, screened, interviewed, etc.)?
  • Is there reverse match candidates to requisitions?

Posting Requisitions ATS Questions

  • Can you send the job req to multiple job boards at once?
  • Can your programmatically post the job to job boards, and cease payment when a threshold of applicants has been met?
  • Can posting “learn” how many applicants are required before turning a job off?
  • Can you post to an internal job board for a certain number of days before it goes public?
  • Will jobs be posted to the job site automatically?
  • Will jobs be posted to the relevant microsites on the jobs site?
  • Can the ATS post to minority, industry/job-specific and other specialized  job boards, directly from user interface?
  • Can the ATS allow for posting rules that allow sending all jobs to some boards, and only specialized jobs to niche boards?
  • What are the transaction fees for paid job boards?
  • Are there templates for posting similar jobs as opposed to posting from scratch?
  • Can we match the look of job posting to corporate site?
  • Can we post a single job in multiple languages?
  • Can we route pre-screened candidates to hiring manager/recruiter for immediate action?

Review and Track Job Applications ATS Questions

  • Can we pause a req?
  • How does the ATS track source of application?
  • What kind of reporting can we do to track status of applications?
  • How can we customize the workflow of the hiring process?
  • How does the system differentiate and track all types of candidates (internal, external, contractors, consultants, etc)?
  • Can the ATS notify internal candidate/employee's supervisor of application?
  • Can the ATS route resumes/CVs to hiring managers for review and action?
  • Can the ATS route resumes/CVs to hiring managers for review and action by email?
  • Is there a date and time stamp creation of the requisition?
  • Is there a date and time stamp on updates and edits to a requisition?
  • Can we view all candidates that have applied to a requisition by user defined fields?
  • Can we filter/sort requisitions by status (i.e. active, on hold, pending, closed etc.)?
  • Can we automatically change candidates to applicants based on company's applicant definition?

ATS Questions About Interviews

  • Are there interview question libraries?
  • Who gets notified when an interview is scheduled?
  • How are interview notes kept and shared?
  • How are interviews scheduled?  Is there a gmail/outlook integration?
  • Are there restricted interview feedback notes (pre-populated drop down selections)?
A recruiter interviewing a candidate selected by an application tracking system

ATS Questions About Background Checks

  • Can you demonstrate how your ATS background check feature handles defined requirements for reference checks prior to offer generation?
  • How does your system facilitate the process of asking for references through the software?
  • Can you explain how the software stores and organizes reference check notes?
  • Does your software support bi-directional transfer of vendor screening requests and data between our company and the vendor? For example, can it handle background investigations and drug screening information seamlessly?

ATS Questions About Offers

  • Is it possible to store multiple offer letter templates?
  • Can the software auto-populate offer letters?
  • How does the system route offers for approval based on defined business rules?
  • Is there a limit to the number of approval routing options available? Does it support unlimited approval routing?
  • Can approvals be delegated to other users within the system? How is this delegation managed?
  • Does the software provide functionality for offer disposition and renegotiation?
  • Can negotiated offers be rerouted for approval after the changes are made?
  • Is it possible to approve offers without logging into the ATS (Applicant Tracking System) through email approval?
  • Does the software support creating and sending multiple or batch offer letters at once?

Closing Reqs ATS Questions

  • Does the software automatically close requisitions upon filling the position?
  • Can the software automatically remove job postings from the corporate website and job boards once the requisitions are filled?
  • How does the system notify candidates who were not hired about their status? Is there an automated rejection letter or email feature?
  • Does the software have an auto-suggest feature that provides possible requisition matches for candidates not selected before sending rejection notifications?
  • Can external applicants who are hired be shown as internal employees for future opportunities within the system?
  • Can closed job postings be easily reposted and edited if needed?

ATS Questions About Pre-Start Onboarding

  • Can closed job postings be easily reposted and edited in the system?
  • Does the software allow for the initiation and coordination of benefits paperwork for new hires?
  • Can the software automatically notify vendors of new hires for purposes such as relocation support or welcome gifts?
  • Does the system have a feature to notify internal employees when a new hire joins the company?

Onboarding ATS Questions

  • Can the software schedule the start date of new hires in the supervising manager's calendar, such as Outlook or Lotus Notes?
  • Does the system have a feature to automatically notify the facilities department about new hires for the arrangement of desk, computer, and other equipment?
  • How does the software handle notifications to operational support personnel, including benefits, training, and travel agencies, when a new hire joins the company?
  • Can the software automatically update HR, payroll, and finance systems with the relevant information of new hires?
  • Does the system provide real-time status updates of new hire activities through graphical dashboards?
  • Can the software facilitate the completion of tasks like benefits enrollment, government forms, consents, and compliance documents for new hires?
  • Is it possible to create and store all new hire forms electronically, ensuring full legal compliance?

Creating Candidate Data ATS Questions

  • Does the software support both paper and paperless resume/CV processing?
  • Can the software merge duplicate resume submissions, versioning the older ones for easy reference?
  • Is there a spell check feature available within the recruiter interface for candidate screening data?
  • Can users define their own fields in the system to customize candidate records?
  • Is it possible to create candidate records manually in real-time using the software?
  • Does the software allow users to create folders to organize and categorize their favorite candidates?
  • Can the software automatically notify appropriate users when new qualified candidates match the requirements?

Searching/Screening Candidate Data

  • Can the software search the candidate database by keyword(s)?
  • Is it possible to search the candidate database based on skills and experience?
  • Does the software allow searching the candidate database by location?
  • Can the candidate database be searched by job function?
  • Is there a feature to search the candidate database based on the source of candidates?
  • Can users search the candidate database using user-defined fields?
  • Is it possible to restrict searches of the candidate database by the date received?
  • Does the software support advanced/complex search strings, such as Boolean operators and multiple criteria?
  • Can users save candidate searches for future use?
  • Does the software employ intelligent search systems, such as concept-based, fuzzy logic, or artificial intelligence, for more accurate results?
  • Can the software include third-party databases, such as job boards, in candidate searches?
  • Does the software enable the search and classification of candidates by ranking their responses to pre-screening questions?
  • Does the system highlight matched text on resumes/CVs from executed searches?
  • Can users share saved searches with their colleagues?
  • Is it possible to search resumes/CVs in international languages within the system?
Data from an application tracking system shown on a laptop

Viewing Candidate Data

  • Can the software allow users to view parsed contact, work, and education data from candidate resumes/CVs?
  • Is it possible to view the original resume/CV document (Word, PDF, fax) directly within the system?
  • Can users print candidate resumes/CVs from the software?
  • Does the software provide a feature to forward resumes/CVs by fax?
  • Is there an option to email resumes/CVs to colleagues or external contacts?
  • Can the system retain previous interview notes in a candidate's history for reference?
  • Does the software have visual indicators to highlight previously interviewed candidates?
  • Can additional supporting documentation (PDF, Word, JPEG/GIF, audio files) be attached to a candidate's profile?
  • Is there a mechanism to store and purge attachments, considering server space limitations?
  • Does the software automatically date and time stamp the creation of a candidate's record?
  • Are additions/edits to a candidate's record, including notes, date, and time-stamped in the system?
  • Can users restrict notes to pre-populated drop-down commentary for consistency?
  • Is it possible to configure which user types (recruiters, hiring managers, generalists) can access shared notes?
  • Can "hot candidates" be flagged for increased consideration?
  • Can users share their watchlist of favorite candidates with others?
  • Does the software track data on reasons for declining job offers?
  • Is diversity tracking available, which shows applicant flow data based on demographics?
  • Can a candidate be designated as ineligible to return (do not rehire) in the system?
  • Does the software automatically track the source of hire for candidates from social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.?

Reporting and Analytics ATS Questions

  • Does the software provide standard metric reports, such as cost per hire, time to fill, source analytics, and EEO-1 reports?
  • Can the system generate reports on temporary employee usage and associated costs?
  • Is it possible to obtain reports on the number of potential candidates at each stage of the recruiting process?
  • Can the software produce reports that outline the reasons candidates declined job offers?
  • Does the system offer individual and aggregate cost reports for job boards, newspapers, etc.?
  • Is there a library of standard report templates available in the software?
  • Can users modify the standard report templates according to their needs?
  • Does the system allow users to choose specific fields to report or extract data, such as job function, location, level, etc.?
  • Can users customize their own dashboard options based on their preferences?
  • Does the software support ad-hoc reporting for more flexible and on-demand data analysis?
  • Is it possible to create custom reports tailored to specific requirements?
  • Can reports be sent by email or shared as links from the system to desired recipients?
  • Does the software allow for posting reports to the intranet directly from the system?
  • Can users update, save, and share their reports with others who need access to them?
  • Is data export available in industry-standard formats such as CSV, XML, etc.?
  • Can the software perform adverse impact ratio analysis to identify job groups where females/minorities are underrepresented?

ATS Compliance Questions

  • Can the software automate EEOC data collection at a user-defined stage of the recruiting process?
  • Does the system provide restricted access to EEOC data, allowing only select users to view this information?
  • Is there automated collection and reporting of the Affirmative Action Plan within the software?
  • Does the system update Federal EEO/AA codes to stay in compliance with the latest regulations?
  • Can the software assist with OFCCP Internet applicant regulations by identifying applicants as "Internet Applicants" through specific fields?
  • Does the software automatically save previous versions of applicant's data to comply with record-keeping requirements?
  • Does the system have visible history tracking to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley audit requirements?
  • Can the software automatically send jobs to local government employment agency boards and diversity-focused boards?
  • Does the software comply with international regulations for handling international candidates?

User-Related Administration ATS Questions

  • Can the software allow administrators to add new users and delete existing users?
  • Does the system offer role-based restricted access, ensuring users only have access to relevant information and features?
  • Is it possible to create custom security groups to control access permissions within the system?
  • Can users view user organization charts directly within the software?

System-Related Administration ATS Questions

  • Can the software archive and purge resume/CV data as needed?
  • Is there a feature to archive and purge requisition history within the system?
  • Does the software provide database indexing and optimization to improve performance and search efficiency?
  • Can users store customized templates and forms in the system for future use?
  • Is there a mechanism to capture and track when templates are loaded or created in the software?
  • Can users edit text fields within the system to update candidate information or other data?
  • Does the software allow users to set a default timeout period for candidate data entry sessions?
A hand holding a usb containing sensitive data extracted from an application tracking system

ATS Questions About Hardware Environment  and Software Architecture

  • Is the software supported by standard platforms and physical environments?
  • Does the software provide a suggested data backup strategy for data security and protection?
  • Are all browser versions/types supported by the system, ensuring accessibility for users?
  • Does the software have minimal software or hardware incompatibilities or conflicts with common setups?
  • Is there no additional client-side software required to access the system, ensuring ease of use?
  • Are there no additional web server requirements for system implementation and day-to-day operations, simplifying deployment?
  • Does the software follow general business application conventions for navigation and use, making it user-friendly?

ATS Security Administration Questions

  • Does the software have record (row) and field (column) security features to control access to specific data?
  • Does the software support SSL (https://) for secure data transmission over the network?
  • Does the software have and/or require network security measures to protect data during transmission and storage?
  • Is there a multi-tier security architecture in the software to allow for variable view settings and access rights for different user roles?
  • Does the software provide password management capabilities to help users manage and secure their passwords effectively?
  • Does the software offer encryption functionality to secure passwords stored in the system?

ATS Questions About Database Changes

  • Can users create and add new fields to the system, including user-defined fields?
  • Does the software allow users to change the size and format of fields as needed?
  • Can users designate a field as "required," ensuring necessary data is captured?
  • Do upgrades and new versions of the software consider database, user field, and screen changes made in the system?
  • Is there access to backups via an FTP site for data recovery and restoration?
  • What programming language is used for the base system and the web-based client? Are they commonly used languages?

ATS Questions About System Upgrades/Support

  • Are upgrades (patches) issued by the ATS vendor when necessary?
  • Is there a timely notification process in place to inform clients of pending upgrades?
  • Does the software provide a support escalation path for addressing issues effectively?
  • Is there an online knowledge base available to assist users with troubleshooting and inquiries?
  • Are backups stored both onsite and offsite to ensure data safety and disaster recovery?
  • Are users informed of any planned downtime or system issues through communication (e.g., splash screen) during maintenance windows?
  • Do upgrades to the software ensure that company graphics and branding are not affected?
  • Are there standard processes in place for disaster recovery to handle unforeseen events and data loss situations?

ATS Integration Questions

  • Does the software support bi-directional data integration for HRIS Interface?
  • Is the software compliant with HR-XML schema standards?
  • Does the system offer interactive voice response (IVR) integration?
  • Can the software integrate with candidate relationship management systems?
  • Are there certified ATS integrations with other vendors?
  • Does the software provide import and export capabilities?
  • Does the software have experience with integrating the system with both internal and external application software?
  • Is there integration with job posting distribution partners?
  • Does the software offer social network integration to allow extrapolation of contacts from social networks?

ATS Global Capabilities Questions

  • Does the software offer integration with job posting distribution partners?
  • Can the candidate interface in the front-end of the software support multiple languages?
  • Does the back-end user interface of the software also support multiple languages?
  • Can the software handle multiple local currencies in its fields?
  • Does the software account for time zone changes, including accommodating daylight savings time for relevant countries?
  • Is the default language, currency, and time zone settings based on the user's ID upon log-in?
  • Can users change language settings despite their physical location?
  • Does the software permit different divisions or geographic regions to use separate approval processes and business terminology based on local preferences?
  • Is multilingual customer support available for the software users?
A person viewing a global software map on a laptop

ATS Questions About System Implementation

  • Can the software accept data from migrated systems?
  • Is the ATS implementation process quick?
  • Are global and phased implementation models available for the software to cater to different implementation approaches?
  • Does the software ensure that service implementation partners have the requisite certification for their roles?
  • Can you provide documentation or references from current or past clients to demonstrate the success of its implementation model?

ATS Training Questions

  • Does the software offer a rapid implementation model for quick and efficient deployment?
  • Is there an option for onsite training to provide in-person instruction to users?
  • Can the training be customized to meet the specific needs of our organization?
  • Is a train-the-trainer program available to enable our internal trainers to teach other users?
  • Do you have a user certification program to validate user proficiency?
  • Is there a certification program for partners, such as background screening partners, to ensure their expertise with the system?
  • Do you provide web-based training options for remote learning and flexibility?
  • Is online help available within the software to provide on-the-spot assistance to users?
  • Are dedicated training personnel assigned to support each phase of the implementation process?
  • Can training schedules be arranged to align with each phase of the software implementation?
  • Do you offer additional training sessions for new releases and system upgrades?
  • Are learning aids, such as user manuals, reference guides, online tutorials, tip sheets, and FAQs, available in multiple languages?
  • Is there specific training provided for system administrators to effectively manage the software?

ATS Candidate Relationship Management Tools Questions

  • Can the software import contacts from Microsoft Outlook and Excel?
  • Is there a feature to import candidate details from a CRM system with just one click?
  • Does the software maintain a complete history of activities, such as call logs, with notes related to interactions with candidates?
  • Can the system track which candidates are being interacted with the most?
  • Is there an automatic email function that invites candidates to update their resume/CV, contact data, and interest at predetermined intervals?
  • Can the software set up special newsletters for targeted groups, both for outside mailing lists and candidates already in the database?
  • Does the software allow setting follow-up reminders for specific actions or interactions with candidates?
  • Can you view a candidate summary with options to see more or less detail as needed?
  • Does the software have a job skills database of existing employees?
  • Can candidates be sorted by specific data columns, and can they be ranked based on skill match?
  • Is there a feature that allows sending personal messages about open positions directly to targeted individuals on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.?
  • Does the software support virtual career fairs, enabling interaction with candidates in a virtual event environment?
  • Can you view the employment status of candidates within the system?
  • Is it possible to include file attachments for clarification or additional information in candidate profiles or interactions?

ATS Question About Supplementary Offerings

  • Is there an assessment provider or partner integrated into the software to assist with candidate assessments?
  • Is there an integrated background checking provider or partner to facilitate background checks for candidates?
  • Is there a partner for hourly hiring management that works in conjunction with the software?
  • Can the software integrate with an onboarding provider or partner to streamline the onboarding process for new hires?
  • Is there a proprietary contingent hiring management product or partner offered by the software vendor?
  • Does the software include a proprietary hourly hiring management product?
  • Is there a proprietary recruitment process outsourcing system or partner available?
  • Does the software have a proprietary resume/CV processing provider or partner integrated into it?
  • Can the software work with a recruitment process outsourcing partner to handle certain recruitment functions externally?
  • Does the software include a vendor management module to manage interactions with external vendors and partners?

Questions About Applicant Tracking System Pricing

  • What are the different ATS pricing tiers and their respective features?
  • Is the pricing based on a per-user or per-job posting model?
  • Are there any setup fees or additional hidden costs?
  • Is the pricing structure flexible, and can it be customized to suit our organization's specific needs?
  • Are there any long-term contracts, or can we opt for a month-to-month subscription?
  • Does the pricing include customer support, or is it billed separately?
  • How many active job openings are included in each pricing tier?
  • Are there any limitations on the number of candidates or users we can have in the system?
  • Is there a limit on the number of job postings or candidate applications allowed per month?
  • Are there any additional charges for integrating the ATS with other HR or recruitment tools we use?
  • How does the pricing change as our organization grows and our hiring needs increase?
  • Are there any additional costs for accessing the ATS from mobile devices or specific browsers?
  • Is data migration from our existing ATS or HR system included in the pricing?
  • Are there any penalties or additional fees for exceeding usage limits?
  • Can we request a demo or trial period before committing to a subscription?
  • Do you have any ATS ROI examples from existing customers that you can share?
Phil Strazzulla
HR Tech Expert, Harvard MBA, Software Enthusiast
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Phil is the founder of SelectSoftware Reviews, a website dedicated to helping HR and Recruiting teams find and buy the right software through in-depth, expert advice. He has bought over $1 million worth of HR and Recruiting tools. Additionally, as of 2023, nearly 3 million HR professionals have relied on his advice to determine which business software they should buy.

Phil studied finance at New York University and started his career working in venture capital before getting his MBA from Harvard Business School. His in-depth understanding of the Saas landscape, especially HR Tech, stems from nearly a decade of researching and working with these tools as a computer programmer, user, and entrepreneur.

Featured in: Entrepreneur Harvard Business School Yahoo HR.com Recruiting Daily Hacking HR Podcast HR ShopTalk Podcast Employer Branding for Talent Acquisition (Udemy Course)

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