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17 questions to ask your applicant tracking system vendor

June 2, 2022
iCIMS Staff
17 min read
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Anapplicant tracking system (ATS) helps recruiters manage and scale their organization’s recruiting and hiring process. There are a lot of choices when it comes to selecting an ATS, but not all recruiting software or ATS vendors are the same. 

You want to look for an ATS vendor capable of supporting your entire talent acquisition process. The right ATS vendor isn’t going to offer a stopgap or short-term fix.  

The right vendor also knows choosing an ATS is a big decision and a long-term investment. It’ll have a feature-rich roadmap and offer ongoing support to help you get the most out of your system for years to come.  

With that out of the way, let’s get to it. Here are the questions to ask applicant tracking vendors you’re considering: 


Questions to ask about an ATS vendor’s strengths and focus areas


  1. Does your ATS excel at virtual recruiting?

If the answer is no, stop here. Hiring has changed too much to rely on an ATS that doesn’t support virtual recruiting. Ask about your vendor’s AI recruitment software capabilities, including: 

    • Job matching algorithms. Read enough job descriptions, and they start blurring together. AI-powered job matching cuts through the white noise and assesses job seekers’ skills, experience, and interests to pair them with best-fit openings. 
    • Candidate ranking. Recruiters review a lot of candidates. Candidate ranking saves time by creating shortlists of candidates through a transparent, unbiased review. You get more than just time back; you get peace of mind knowing all candidates were assessed fairly. 
    • Resume parsing. One of the quickest ways to discourage would-be applicants is to ask them to input the same information they just typed out two screens ago. Accurate resume parsing populates application fields quickly and faithfully, saving applicants time and decreasing the likelihood they’ll click out in frustration. 
    • 24/7 communication with applicants. Recruiting chatbots can answer questions, schedule interviews, direct job seekers to relevant jobs, and encourage applications from candidates regardless of country or time zone. 
    • Internal mobility/rehire capabilities. Your applicant tracking software should highlight the best fit for your company, including internal talent. Employers that hire seasonally should also be able to curate strong talent pools for the future with a candidate relationship management system. 

[For a deep dive on how to build stronger and more dynamic talent pools, download our guide here.] 


  1. How do you address the unique hiring needs of industries like mine?

Likely, your vendor is working with employers in your industry and can offer best practices for any hiring scenario you find yourself in today, from mass hiring of essential roles to fewer open requisitions with more specialized requirements from specific talent groups. Your ATS should make those insights readily available to you, in the way your team needs to view them.

We work with companies all over the world in a wide variety of industries, including: 

[Don’t see your specific industry listed? Don’t worry. We have dozens of customer success stories from all sorts of industries. Check them out here.] 


  1. Will the new tools sync well with our current systems? 

Spending the day logging in and out of multiple screens may have been tolerable before, but now it’s crucial that recruiters can operate the various tools they need throughout the hiring process effectively and without disruption.  

Your applicant tracking vendor may offer a level of integration, but openly discuss your options to sync collaborative working tools like Microsoft Teams or virtual hiring essentials like video interviewing software, task simulation assessments, and your employee system of record. While on that topic, bring up data and reporting consistency to determine opportunities for complete compliance while remote. 

[Here’s a recent article shared by our VP of Corporate Development, Mike Wilczak, on how collaboration and communication tools are coming together to strengthen HR tech.] 


  1. How can we optimize and automate our hiring workflow? 

Look into the way your recruiters complete tasks, from sourcing to onboarding, and how many of the steps are currently automated. Workflow reports can be a huge help in determining where to focus your efforts.  

Any manual tasks are opportunities to make small changes within your ATS that result in more time and higher-quality hires with even less effort.  

With the right software, recruiters can schedule recurring email campaigns to engage talent pools regularly. They can share opportunities, upcoming networking events, and company updates. If you want this option, be sure the ATS has options to integrate with this software.  


  1. Can enterprise recruiting software support diversity efforts? 

Talent diversification is key to building high-performing teams, yet it’s not always clear how applicant tracking software can help. 

Traditionally, recruiting teams used sourcing data to see who was applying and how they found out about the role. That’s a good start, but it only tells part of the story of how someone moves from job seeker to new hire.  

More sophisticated applicant tracking software provides in-depth data and reports at every stage of the hiring process. What’s more, it can actually point out diverse talent who might otherwise get lost in the shuffle. 

Additionally, ask your recruiting software vendors if they offer or plan to offer any of the following: 

These tools can help mitigate bias, provide a more equitable hiring process, and help create accessible and inclusive experiences for candidates. 

[Dive into more stories, strategies, and tactics for diversity and inclusion in recruiting here.] 


  1. Does the ATS integrate with my HCMs or HRIS?  

A human resource information system (HRIS) or human capital management (HCM) system gathers, saves, and holds an organization’s employee and HR-related information. When you hire an applicant, they become an employee. With ATS-HCM integration, you can seamlessly transfer the new hire data you need.  


Questions to ask about ATS features and capabilities


  1. What career site options are part of the ATS? 

An on-brand career site is a powerful way to engage candidates and showcase all your organization has to offer. Find out if there are options to customize the site to reflect your brand and demonstrate your value as an employer.  


  1. Can we conduct video interviews using the ATS?  

Video interviews enable you to interview applicants anywhere around the globe. Whether it’s a two-way video experience or candidate prerecorded responses to recruiter questions, having this ability is key. Especially when you are hiring for a remote workforce, video interviews make a massive difference in enabling recruiters and hiring managers to connect with candidates. Plus, candidates really like video interviews. 


  1. Does your CRM support engaging candidates at scale? 

It’s a challenge to communicate effectively with all your candidates, especially if you receive thousands (or tens of thousands) of applications per year. Ideally, you want to send consistent, personalized communications to every candidate. However, that amount of work is nearly impossible for your recruiters to sustain without some sort of help. 

This is where candidate relationship management (CRM) software comes in. A CRM empowers recruiters to build talent pipelines, automate email marketing, host recruiting events, and generate shortlists of candidates based on their skills and experience.  

Ultimately, a CRM enables recruiters to deliver communications at scale without adding significant manual effort to their workload. 


  1. Can your ATS improve my offer management process?  

The right applicant tracking software helps you draft offers, tracks the job offers you’ve made, and makes it easy for applicants to accept jobs. Rather than wasting time writing new offer letters for each position, recruiters can spend their time making new hires feel welcome.  

[For tips on optimizing your offer workflow, check out this definitive guide to the process.] 


  1. How well does your ATS handle employee onboarding?   

When onboarding new employees, you’re required to follow various employment regulations. Software solutions can eliminate the need for paper forms and reduce the hassles around employment eligibility verification, I-9 completion, and background checks. An onboarding workflow allows new employees to manage their documents and removes the need for HR employees to perform endless data entry tasks.   


  1. Does your ATS support job ad posting?  

Job boards are one of the top three sources of hire, which means it’s essential that your ATS helps you maximize their value. Find out if you can post open positions to multiple boards and, even better, if you can do so at one time. This level of automation is a true time-saver.  


  1. Is your ATS mobile and text friendly?  

Today’s candidates are searching and applying for jobs on their mobile devices. According to Glassdoor, 58% of its users look for jobs on their phones. If you want to reach as many candidates as possible, they need mobile access to your site. Once they’re in the talent pool, recruiters need a way to communicate with candidates via text message securely.  


  1. Will your ATS help us manage both passive and active candidates?  

Active candidates are people who are actively looking for new jobs. They typically become part of your talent pool when they apply for a job via your ATS. What about the amazing people who aren’t actively looking but might be interested if they found the right position? Ideally, your ATS should offer ways for you to connect with and collect information about those passive candidates, too.  


Questions to ask about security and the customer experience


  1. How will you support security and keep my data safe? 

Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report recorded 3,950 breaches. Of those, 72% involved large business victims, and 43% involved web applications. If your recruiting software vendor is not proactive about cybersecurity, it could open your company up to attacks and data breaches. 

Look for a vendor with strict data encryption procedures, up-to-date certifications, and detailed security policies to help keep your candidates and employees safe. A prepared vendor will have documentation ready that details how it collects, uses, and stores your confidential information.  

Your vendor should also confirm that it has a comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery plan to ensure your critical data is available in the event of a disaster. These plans are often confidential, so many companies typically won’t share the details of their plan, but they should be willing to confirm it exists. 

[For more on this topic, see our Trust Center.] 


  1. How often do you plan to release software updates? 

Enterprise hiring needs change over time. Consider the drastic changes in the talent industry in just the last few years. Seemingly overnight, talent acquisition shifted to a virtual experience. Change can happen fast. Adapting quickly can be the difference between growing and falling behind. 

This is why it’s so important to ask your software vendors how it’s innovating and planning to meet tomorrow’s hiring needs. Companies that “get it” have their eye on the future. That’s why we work year-round to enhance our product roadmaps and release innovations quarterly. 


  1. How do you communicate best practices and facilitate knowledge sharing? 

After implementing new software, you’ll need to get the users up to speed. Look for a vendor that can onboard your users quickly and provide support over time. 

Additionally, look for a software company that encourages peer-to-peer community. For example, the iCIMS Talent Cloud Community connects industry leaders from all over the globe. Participants can ask questions, share ideas, and even vote on proposals to enhance the iCIMS Talent Cloud. 



With more than two decades in business, we’re more convinced than ever that having the right talent is the secret to success. And the way to find and hire talent? Start with world-class applicant tracking software 

Ready to get the most out of your next ATS? Click the banner below for 5 tips to scale recruiting with automation. 


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