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300+ Questions to Ask Applicant Tracking System Vendors on Demos

Here is a massive list of questions that you can use to find the best ATS for your business.

Phil Strazzulla
HR Tech Expert, Harvard MBA, Software Enthusiast
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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 top ATS software 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?

Related ATS Buyer Guides:
Best Applicant Tracking Systems for Small Businesses
Best Free Applicant Tracking Systems

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?

A candidate completing pre-screening questions

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

Creating Requisitions

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

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

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

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)?

An recruiter interviewing a female candidate

Background Checks

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

Delegate approval

Offer disposition and renegotiation

Reroute negotiated offer for approval

Approve offer without logging in to ATS (e-mail approval)

Multiple or batch offer letters

Closing Reqs

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

Pre-Start Onboarding

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

Various data on a laptop

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

Ad-hoc reporting

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

User-Related Administration

Add new users and delete existing users

Role-based restricted access

Create custom security groups

View user organization charts

System-Related Administration

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

A hand holding a usb

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

Security Administration

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

Database Changes

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

System Upgrades/Support

Upgrades (patches) are issued when necessary

Clients are notified of pending upgrades in a timely manner by ATS vendor

Provide support escalation path

Online knowledgebase

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

Global Capabilities

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)

Global software on a laptop

System Implementation

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


Onsite training

Customized training


User certification program

Certification program for partners (e.g. background screening partner)

Web-based training

Online help

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)

Assessment provider/partner

Background checking provider/partner

Hourly hiring management partner

Onboarding provider/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:

Guide on Applicant Tracking System Pricing

What Exactly is an ATS?

Return on Investment (ROI) On ATS

Benefits of an ATS (Why Your Business Needs One)

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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