Practitioners shouldn’t feel shy about taking charge on a 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 what’s important to you.
You should definitely go into a demo with a list of questions to ask. 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. It’s worth noting, you should probably choose the 10-20 questions that really matters to you vs trying to go through all of these!
Thanks to all of our expert council members who contributed their questions to this list. Also, if you’re looking to use these questions across multiple vendors, check out the ATS vendor organizer spreadsheet on our best applicant tracking systems page. It’s a great way to keep track of all your notes.
Lastly, if you're looking for a steady stream of advice on buying HR Tech, sign up for our weekly newsletter, it's full of tactical advice to help you buy the right software for the right price.
Questions to ask ATS Vendors:
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?
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?
Recruiting Agency Interface
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?
Worth reading resource if you are buying an ATS: Applicant Tracking System Buyer Guide
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?
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)?
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?
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
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?
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)?
Defined requirements for reference checks prior to offer generation
Ask for reference through system
Store reference check notes
Bi-directional transfer of vendor screening request and data to/from company and vendor (e.g. background investigation, drug screening, etc.)
Store multiple offer letter templates
Auto-populate offer letter
Route offer for approval based upon defined business rules
Unlimited approval routing
Offer disposition and renegotiation
Reroute negotiated offer for approval
Approve offer without logging in to ATS (e-mail approval)
Multiple or batch offer letters
Automatically close requisition upon fill
Remove job postings from corporate website and job boards automatically when requisitions are filled
Notify candidates not hired of status (rejection letter/e-mail)
Auto suggest possible requisition matches for candidates not selected before rejection
Show external applicants, who apply and are hired, as internal employee for future opportunities
Closed postings can be reposted and edited
Initiate/coordinate benefits paperwork
Notify vendors of new-hire (for relocation support, welcome gifts, etc.)
Notify internal employees of new hire
Schedule start date in supervising manager's calendar (Outlook, Lotus Notes, etc.)
Notify facilities department of new hire (desk, computer etc.)
Notify operational support personnel of new hire (benefits, training, travel agencies, etc.)
Automatically update HR, payroll, and finance systems
Real-time status of new hire activities with graphical dashboards
Complete tasks such as benefits enrollment, government forms, consents, and compliance documents
Create and store all new hire forms electronically with full legal compliance
Creating Candidate Data
Paper and paperless resume/CV processing
Merge duplicate resume submissions (version old resume/CV for reference)
Spell check available within the recruiter interface for candidate screening data
User defined fields
Create candidate record manually in real time
Create folders to put favorite candidates
Automatic notification of new qualified candidates to appropriate users
Search/Screen Candidate Data
Search candidate database by keyword(s)
Search candidate database by skills and experience
Search candidate database by location
Search candidate database by job function
Search candidate database by source
Search candidate database by user defined fields
Restrict search of candidate database by date received
Advanced/complex search strings (Boolean, multiple criteria, etc.)
Save candidate searches for future use
Intelligent search systems (concept based, fuzzy logic, artificial intelligence, etc)
Include third-party databases (such as job boards) in search
Search/classify candidates by ranking of responses to pre-screening questions
Highlight matched text on resume/CV from executed search
Share saved searches with colleagues
Create search criteria and automatically query database for potential matches and notify search owner
Search resumes/CVs in international languages
Viewing Candidate Data
View parsed contact/work/education data
View original resume/CV document (Word, PDF, fax)
Print candidate resume/CV
Forward resumes/CVs by fax
E-mail resumes/CVs to colleagues or externally
Sub Category 4: Track/Note
Retain previous interview notes in history
Visual indicators for previously interviewed candidates
Attach additional supporting documentation (PDF, Word, JPEG/GIF, Audio files)
Ability to store and purge attachments (please note server space included)
Date and time stamp creation of candidate record
Date and time stamp additions/edits to candidate record including notes
Restrict notes to pre-populated drop down commentary
Ability to configure with whom notes are shared with by user type (recruiter, hiring managers, and generalists)
Flag "hot candidates" for increased consideration
Share your watch list of favorite candidates
Track data on reasons for declining job offer
Diversity tracking: shows applicant flow data
Designate a candidate as ineligible to return (do not rehire)
Automatically track source of hire for social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, etc.)
Reporting and Analytics
Standard metric reports (cost per hire, time to fill, source, EEO-1)
Reports for temporary employee usage and costs
Report on number of potential candidates at each stage of recruiting process
Reports on reasons candidates decline offers
Report on individual and aggregate cost of job boards, newspapers, etc.
Library of standard report templates
Ability to modify standard templates
Allows user to choose fields to report/extract data (job function, location, level, etc.)
Self-customizable dashboard options
Custom report creation
Send reports by e-mail or as a link from system to desired parties
Post reports to intranet from the system
Reports can be updated/saved and others can access these saved reports
Export data in industry standard format (CSV, XML etc.)
Adverse impact ratio analysis that shows job groups where females/minorities are under represented
Automate EEOC data collection at user defined stage of recruiting process
Provide restricted access to EEOC data to select users
Automated collection and reporting of Affirmative Action Plan
Federal EEO/AA code changes are updated within system
Assist with OFCCP Internet applicant regulations by showing field(s) to identify applicant as an “Internet Applicant”
Automatically save previous versions of applicant's data to comply with record keeping requirements
Comply with Sarbanes-Oxley audit requirements with visible history tracking
Send jobs to local government employment agency boards and diversity focused boards automatically
Comply with international regulations for international candidates
Add new users and delete existing users
Role-based restricted access
Create custom security groups
View user organization charts
Archive and purge resume/CV data
Archive and purge requisition history
Database indexing and optimization
Store customized templates/forms
Capture when templates are loaded/created
Edit text fields
Set a default time out period for candidate data entry
Hardware Environment and Software Architecture
Supported by standard platforms and physical environment
Provides suggested data backup strategy
All browser versions/types are supported
Minimal software or hardware incompatibilities or conflicts
No additional client-side software required to access system
No additional Web server requirements for system implementation and day-to-day operations
Follows general business application conventions for navigation and use
Has record (row) and field (column) security
Supports SSL (https:\\)
Has/requires network security
Provides multi-tier security architecture to support variable view settings and access rights
Provides password management capabilities
Offers encryption functionality for passwords
Create and add a new field (User defined as well)
Allow user to change field size, format
Allow user to designate a field as "required"
Upgrades and new versions take into account database/user field and screen changes
Access to backups via FTP site
Programming language of the base system and the web-based client are commonly used
Upgrades (patches) are issued when necessary
Clients are notified of pending upgrades in a timely manner by ATS vendor
Provide support escalation path
Backups are stored onsite and offsite
Downtime/system issues are communicated (splash screen) during maintenance windows
Company graphics are not affected by upgrades
Standard processes in place for disaster recovery
Bi-directional data integration for HRIS Interface
HR-XML compliant schema
Interactive voice response (IVR) integration
Integrate with candidate relationship management systems
Certified integration partners with other vendors
Provide import and export capabilities
Experience with integrating system with internal and external application software
Integration with job posting distribution partners
Social network integration to allow extrapolation of contacts from social networks
Multiple languages front-end candidate interface (please list languages in comments section)
Multiple languages back-end user interface (please list languages in comments section)
Multiple local currencies fields (please list currencies in comments section)
Account for time zone changes (i.e., accommodate daylight savings time for relevant countries)
Use default language, currency, and time zone settings based on user's ID (identified upon log-in)
Permit users to change language settings despite physical location
Permit different divisions or geographic regions to use separate approval processes and business terminology according to local preference
Multilingual customer support (please list languages in comments)
Accept data from migrated systems
Rapid implementation model
Global and phased implementation models
Ensure requisite certification for service implementation partners
Ability to document success of implementation model or references from current/past clients
User certification program
Certification program for partners (e.g. background screening partner)
Dedicate training personnel across each implementation phase
Schedule training across each implementation phase
Provide additional training for new releases and system upgrades
Learning aids (e.g. user manuals, reference guides, online tutorials, tip sheets, FAQs) available in multiple languages
System administrator training
Candidate Relationship Management Tools
Import contacts from Microsoft Outlook and Excel
Import candidate details from CRM system with one click
Maintain complete history of activities (call logs, etc) with notes relating to interactions with candidates
Track which candidates are being interacted with the most
Automatic e-mail to candidates in predetermined intervals inviting them to update resume/CV, contact data, and interest
Set up special newsletters for targeted groups (for outside mailing lists as well as candidates already in database)
Set follow-up reminders
View a candidate summary with options to see more or less detail
Job skills database of existing employees
Sort candidates by specific data columns and rank candidates by skill match
Directly send personal messages about an open position to targeted people on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Supports virtual career fairs
View employment status of candidates
Include file attachments for clarification
Supplementary Offerings (please list all partners in comments section)
Background checking provider/partner
Hourly hiring management partner
Proprietary contingent hiring management product/partner
Proprietary hourly hiring management product
Proprietary recruitment process outsourcing system
Proprietary resume/CV processing provider/partner
Recruitment process outsourcing partner
Vendor management module
Further reads on ATS: