7 Features to Look For in an Applicant Tracking System

Author: Kristina Proffitt

8th August 2017

Applicant tracking systems help businesses to speed up the hiring process. They can handle everything from vetting candidates to streamlining interview booking.

Different businesses have different needs and it’s therefore important to find an applicant tracking system (ATS) that fits with your recruitment process.

The basic features are often the same, but here are some more advanced features to look out for:

Customized application forms

There’s no denying that job application forms can be tedious.

The more complicated the process is for candidates, the more likely they are to give up and apply somewhere else.

Offering candidates a seamless hiring process means there’s a better chance of attracting the best talent and hiring the best person for the job.

Not every question in an application form is relevant to every department, which is why it’s important to have custom application forms for every role. This prevents candidates from needing to answer pointless questions and gives hiring managers less data to read through.


According to Glassdoor, 45% of jobseekers use their mobile to search for jobs at least once a day.

Many of these people will go on to apply via mobile, too.

As smartphones become an increasingly important part of our lives, ensuring that everything we release into the world is mobile-friendly is also crucial.

Don’t assume everyone wants to apply from their computer.

If a candidate starts a job application on mobile and the user experience is poor, they may well quit the process and apply elsewhere instead.

Agency portals and integration with job boards

While not every company likes to receive applications via agencies, they too can be a useful way to filter out unsuitable candidates.

Offering agencies their own portal to upload resumes and covering letters means that they don’t have to fill in the same additional form fields that a candidate would.

Many applicant tracking systems integrate with job boards and social networks so that companies can get their vacancy in front of as many people as possible.

Different applicant tracking systems will integrate with different sites, so look for one that integrate with sites your ideal candidate would hang out. There’s no point advertising a job on Facebook if your ideal candidate doesn’t use it.

Candidate screening tools

The hiring process takes an average of 52 days.

By using candidate screening tools, companies can filter through hundreds or thousands of applicants in just a few minutes.

Screening tools work by scanning applications for keywords and phrases.

The more keywords and phrases a candidate uses, and the more times they use them, the more likely they will be to pass. However, if it looks like a candidate is keyword stuffing, they can still be rejected.

If the ATS deems a candidate suitable, they’ll be put through to the next round where the hiring manager can review their resume.

Some ATSs also offer skill evaluation and video interviewing tools. All these help to filter through candidates before interviewers spend valuable one-on-one time.


When you have a large amount of data to trawl through, search functions are key.

Built-in search allows users to quickly find the candidate that they’re looking for without needing to flick through hundreds of other resumes first.

If they’d like to review a candidate’s application, or print it off before an interview, having an effective search tool makes finding someone much easier.

Interview scheduling with calendar sync

More and more companies are offering candidates the option to book their own interviews. Putting the control into candidates’ hands saves hiring managers and interview panelists time, while also creating a better interview process for candidates. This positive interview process can be the difference between a candidate accepting or declining a role.

When integrated with an ATS, Real-Time Scheduling streamlines the interview booking process.

Interview panelists connect their calendars to the ATS, then hiring managers can generate a link to send to candidates. This link takes candidates to a live version of the interview panel’s real-time availability, allowing candidates to book their interview at their preferred time.

Because everything updates in real-time, there’s no risk of interviews clashing with each other or a new calendar event.

Reporting tools

Many companies don’t track their hiring process, but they should.

Applicant tracking systems that offer statistics can work out things like cost per hire, time to hire, the number of applications received, and more. Hiring managers can then use this information to improve the time to hire or cost per hire and attract the best people for the role.

Messaging and collaboration

Messaging and collaboration tools that are built into an ATS allow interview panels and HR staff to discuss candidates within the software.

This means they don’t need to flit between windows – they can have the candidate’s application in front of them as they write about it.

This is particularly useful if your company uses employee referral schemes, as hiring managers can make notes on resumes to mark candidates that were referred through a current employee.

Find an ATS that fits your needs

The more parts of the hiring process a company automates, the faster they can hire. The faster a companies hires, the more likely they are to attract the best candidates and not lose out to their competitors.

The more complicated the application process is, the more likely it is that they’ll miss out on great hires.

Having a fast, streamlined hiring process creates a better experience for candidates and means that even unsuccessful candidates leave the process feeling valued.

Whatever a company’s needs, there’s an ATS out there that can help.

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Kristina Proffitt

Date: 8th August 2017 | Category: HR Tech