If you’re currently grappling with how to choose an ATS, you might be feeling a tad swamped by the many different providers out there. How do you differentiate between them? How do you know which ATS right for your organisation?

We know these are the kinds of questions HR and Recruitment professionals often ask themselves before choosing an ATS. Allow us to make things clearer as we explore how you navigate your decision-making process. While whole recruitment teams work remotely, collaborating with colleagues to define that essential functionality can be difficult.

Effective research

Make a comprehensive ‘must-have’ and ‘would-like’ list before approaching your ATS hunt. Having a crystal-clear idea of what you want and need will help you focus your search and differentiate between the various offerings.




Tip! Create your bespoke ‘Essential Functionality’ checklist with the Choosing an ATS Guide – your interactive companion to systems selection.





Once you’ve started looking at ATS provider websites, explore their resource centre or blog. They may have helpful information or useful downloadable content. Are there any articles that showcase a potential supplier’s knowledge or expertise? Have they shared any customer success stories, or experience in your sector?

While you’re looking beyond technical functionality, try to get a feel for the customer care and support offered by the supplier. Will it meet your needs? Your ATS supplier should feel like an extension of your own team – do they appear to be able to hit that mark?

System must-haves

It’s now time to return to your ‘must-haves’ list.

Think about your sector. Are there any tools that could particularly help you? If you work in high-volume recruitment, for example the retail industry, a feature to help you automate your interview scheduling process could be invaluable.

What about your candidate attraction? Does the potential ATS supplier have a good understanding of the importance of a careers site in candidate attraction and engagement, and will they be able to advise on best practice? Can they provide a fully-branded candidate portal that perfectly reflects your employer brand and seamlessly links with your corporate site?

StepChange Debt Charity careers site


When we talk to potential customers, we urge them to consider the flexibility of recruitment technology. Look for an agile system that you can configure to meet your unique requirements. Can the system support a Hiring Manager-led approach, for example? Can HR be the driving force, or will the system allow you to have a combination of the two? Can it meet bespoke processes around shortlisting, screening or job approvals?

Also think of the administrative tasks you’ll want the ATS to manage, from scheduling interviews to requesting references. Can all of these be automated? Ask a potential supplier if they can share cost-saving stats from existing customers, to offer you an insight into the tangible results their system could deliver.

Finally, are your potential suppliers aware of the GDPR and what steps they need to be taking? GDPR  came into effect in 2018 later incorporated into UK law via the Data Protection Act – and places an obligation on data processors like ATS suppliers, so make sure your potential provider has adequate provision to manage these demands.



Meeting the system, and the supplier

Before committing to a demo, speak to your potential ATS providers to get a feel for their approach to customer relationships, an insight into the system, and a sense of their company ethos. These are key elements for a consultative, long-term partnership.

Once you’ve scheduled your demo, it’s important that you and your other colleagues in attendance have a clear sense of what you’d like to get out of it, so ensure that you catch up on your priorities beforehand.

Whilst dialled into the demo, ask a potential supplier questions about the approach to ongoing product development, security and customer care, to get a sense of how they conduct their business. Take the opportunity to pick their brains about challenges, or questions you have. Can they suggest a solution or a work-around to any unique challenges you face? Your recruitment processes and challenges are unique – the right supplier and the right ATS should be able to understand and adapt to these accordingly.

After the demo, take some time to reflect. Arrange a video call with the other team members to discuss what stood out to each of you and how well you feel the supplier matches your criteria. Come up with a list of further questions to go back to the supplier with further questions to see how they respond.

Your ideal system will hopefully become clear after a demo, but an Applicant Tracking System is a big investment – so make sure you’re confident in its ability to help you and your organisation now, as well as in the future. 

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Find out more

Download the comprehensive guide to choosing an ATS.

Read our blog on 3 main considerations when choosing an ATS

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About the author

Hannah Vincent

From recruitment into central government, to financial services and the charitable sector, Leah has worked across many industries in her wide ranging career! Now working as Hireserve's Senior Marketing Executive, Leah covers all things marketing - from maintaining our social media channels to managing logistics for events across the country.