What is applicant tracking system (ATS)?

ATS is short for Applicant Tracking System. It's a software solution that brings your whole hiring process together. You can source candidates from it, manage them through the evaluation process, schedule interviews, manage emails, collect interview feedback, make offers, and nurture a talent pool - all from one recruiting system.

Why does your company need an ATS?

Great recruiters know how to find great candidates. But once they find these great candidates - the process of managing them through the hiring process takes them through a number of tools. Their inbox contains emails with the candidate, Slack has chats with the hiring team, interviews are on Google Calendar, feedback is on a piece of paper somewhere, and the actual list of candidates is in an Excel on someone's computer and so on. So, instead of spending time focusing on recruiting and engaging with people, they spend a lot of time searching multiple sources to piece together information.

Enter ATS.

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) brings the hiring process together into one software so that recruiters don't have to waste time, switching between tabs. They can set up career sites, create jobs, publish jobs to job boards and social media, set up an employee referral portal, manage vendors, manage candidates, schedule interviews, make offers, and grow a candidate database - in one interface. It's a one-shop stop for the whole company also because your interviewers can use it to view and keep track of candidates and employees can use it to keep track of their referrals. When everyone invested is on board, collaboration becomes contextual and providing great hiring experiences becomes less pipe-dream and more reality.

The important technical specs to look for in an ATS System

Software as a service

An Applicant Tracking System on a subscription means you won’t have to worry about setting up and maintaining servers to run your applicant tracking system; you can get started in a matter of minutes.

For for your desk and on the go

ATS are mainly web-based applications. They’re developed primarily for desktops and laptops, but now they’re also optimized for mobile. Most applicant tracking systems are available as mobile apps on Android and iOS.

A tool that supports integrations

You can integrate your ATS system  with a variety of applications like assessment providers like HackerRank and interview software like Skype Interviews and Google Hangouts, to simplify your hiring process.

Who can use an Applicant Tracking System?


Adding candidates, advertising jobs, managing them through the hiring process, communicating with the hiring team, storing and searching hiring related information - just some of the many ways in which recruiters use an applicant tracking system . Recruiters stand to gain the most from using an ATS system because it cuts down on time spent searching for information and operations.


ATS systems can help talent acquisition managers pull up reports and monitor their hiring pipeline. Whether it's pipeline movement or candidate inflow by source, TA managers can generate reports and dig deep to draw actionable insights.


The team that hires together, stays together. An applicant tracking system can help the hiring team stay in sync through the hiring process. They can check in on the candidate pipeline and share their thoughts, without the recruiter having to take the trouble of keeping everyone on the same page.


Most application tracking systems come with a referral portal. This means, employees can view job openings and refer any interested friends and family to them, without having to personally connect with a recruiter and leaving open a chance that the resume will get lost in a mailbox. A referral portal also helps employees stay updated on the status of their referral, without having to personally check up with the recruiter.

When to invest in an ATS?

Not everyone needs an ATS. The below are indicators that imply that you need an ATS.

Benefits of using an Applicant Tracking System

Streamlined recruiting

Everything in your recruiting process is represented on a single system, enabling you to track, control and optimize your processes faster and better.

Ability to broadcast jobs

Integrations with various job boards make job publishing a breeze on ATS. You can manage the posts and incoming applicants at the comfort of the ATS.

Get work done

Automate your manual tasks so that you spend time focusing on recruiting and not on operations like sending updates and scheduling interviews.

Complete candidate history

From applicant to candidate to hire, their entire history is captured in the ATS system. This means, you never have to turn anywhere other than your ATS for info.

Contextual collaboration

When everyone invested in the hiring process is onboard, everyone has access to all the information necessary to make quick, informed decisions.

A thriving talent pool

While sourcing candidates, you’ll encounter some exceptional ones who are not an immediate fit. An ATS allows you to gather and nurture them for a later role.

 How do Applicant tracking systems work?

Applicant tracking systems handle everything in between raising a requisition and hiring a superstar.

Collects requisitions - First, the hiring managers raise a requisition on the ATS to let the TA know about open roles or upcoming roles.

Sources the best talent -The sourcing team then discusses with the hiring manager and creates a job description for the open role and broadcasts it through the ATS. Some Applicant tracking system has inbuilt JDs to make the process easier. An ATS enables your sourcing team to publish the job to the career site, social media channels, and various integrated job boards of your choice. One-click and your job reaches top talent in the market.

Manages candidate inflow - Once the job is published, candidates start applying. When candidates apply, they automatically start flowing into the ATS where they are represented as candidates in the system.

Screens candidates - The ATS parses the resumes of the candidates and populates the candidate profiles. This makes it easy to filter candidates. If you want to pull up candidates who have worked for more than 10 years? It’s a breeze.

Pre-asses candidates - You can do another round of deep screening with the help of pre-assessment tests for roles that require them. For example, you can ask candidates applying for engineering roles to take a coding test from Hackerrank or HackerEarth. Based on the test scores you can decide to advance or reject them.

Enables smart interview scheduling - After you have filtered candidates and have a list of interview-worthy ones, check for availability of panel members (through calendar integrations) and schedule interviews right, left and center. You can make use of scorecards in the ATS to rate or score candidates objectively. It enables recruiters to gather feedback from the panel in a single place and makes hiring decisions easy.

Optimizes offer management - When a candidate impresses your panel, you can roll out an offer right from your applicant tracking system. Offer letter templates make this quickly possible.

Fetches reports and analytics - They let you see in detail everything happening inside your pipeline and process. You can pull a report for every need - sourcing reports, pipeline reports, interview scheduling reports, offer acceptance reports, etc.

Automates repetitive tasks- The autopilot or recruitment automation feature in the ATS gives you the ability to automate repetitive processes like emailing, follow up, sending out reject emails, advancing candidates based on referrer or source, notifying panel when a candidate is advanced to the interview stage, etc.

Covers pre-onboarding - As soon as a candidate signs your offer, an ATS turns him/her into an employee on your system. It covers all the pre onboarding activities like form-filling, document-signing, and more. In addition, E Signatures make this a purely paperless and efficient process as they eliminate thousands of downloads and uploads.   

Essential Features of an ATS 

Every business has its own needs, what works for you might not work for your neighboring startup but the features described below are what we view as applicant tracking system essentials.

Multi-channel candidate sourcing

With a candidate tracking system, you should be able to attract candidates to your jobs and handle applicants who come your way as well. For the former, you need the ability to post jobs on job boards, add sourcing partners, share jobs on social media, and set up an employee referral portal. For the latter, a customizable career site complete with an application form to gather information from candidates. The ability to manage your email inside your online ATS system is cherry on top of the cake.

Applicant tracking system - Multi-channel candidate sourcing Applicant tracking system - Multi-channel candidate sourcing

Manage candidates across hiring process

The ideal ATS gives you a visual representation of your candidates across various stages of your hiring process. One look at this screen and you'd know your hiring pipeline in a nutshell. You can also look at your candidate view in a list view but...why would you? Additional cake toppers include bulk actions like update stage, reject or archive to talent pool to help you save time.

Applicant tracking system - Talent pool Applicant tracking system - Talent pool

Schedule and manage interviews

An applicant tracking system that allows you to schedule interviews is an applicant tracking system that you can use to keep your entire hiring team on the same page. You can set up a Google Calendar or Office 365 integration to make sure that there's no conflict while scheduling an interview. You can also set up online interviews using Skype Interviews, HackerRank CodePair or Google Hangouts for a seamless interview experience.

Applicant tracking system -  Interview scheduling Applicant tracking system -  Interview scheduling

Real-time Collaboration 

A lot of a recruiter's time is wasted sending and receiving updates from different members of the hiring team. And then, there's the physical debriefing - which is sometimes the only way you can get all the interviewers to give you their feedback, listen to each other and come to a consensus. An applicant tracking system makes the job much easier. Automatic email notifications when events like new feedback response, new interview scheduled etc. Inbuilt conversations to make sure that hiring team communication is captured inside the ATS and is visible to everyone involved. You can also use interview feedback forms to gather structured feedback and share with the team.

Applicant tracking system - Collaboration Applicant tracking system - Collaboration

Draw insights from reports

Improve your hiring strategy by measuring your performance and then, generating reports to understand it. You can create different types of reports in your applicant tracking system —pipeline movement, interview success, candidates by source, and so on. It’s important to choose a free ATS that offers all the right metrics, else you'll be elbows deep in Excel, trying to figure out how vLookup works.

Applicant tracking system - HR reports Applicant tracking system - HR reports

Put repetitive tasks on Autopilot

The life of a recruiter involves a lot of routine tasks. Tasks that have everything to do with operations and nothing to do with their recruiting skills. Like archiving overqualified candidates to the talent pool. Or rejecting a candidate based on a job requirement specified by a custom application form question. Set up automations in Freshteam to perform actions based on certain events and conditions.

Applicant tracking system - automation Applicant tracking system - automation

Welcome your new hires

Your hiring does not end when you roll an offer out. HR industry stats show that 20% of new hires leave within the first 45 days. A smooth onboarding experience can ensure that your employees don’t slip away during the initial process. With Fresteam you can pre-onboard them - get onboarding forms filled out, documents signed, policies sent out even before they join. Save their first days and week for something more meaningful and special.

Applicant tracking system - employee onboarding Applicant tracking system - employee onboarding

Manage employee information

You can create employee profiles on Freshteam. Choose what information you would like to collect by dragging and dropping fields onto the profile. All the documents they sign, send or submit are exclusively stored in secure document vaults associated with their profiles. Enable your new hires to fill out information about themselves while you control access to sensitive information like salary or benefits, etc.

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The right ATS is, 


Easy to set up, easy to learn and get started with: those are the core tenents against which you should rank all applicant tracking system.


Find an ATS you can rely on; ask for references and find out what other customers think of the ATS from review sites like G2Crowd or Capterra.


What You See Is What You Get - no hidden costs or surprise invoices. The pricing is clear, simple and easy on the wallet.

Since we all love success stories,

Let’s look at what the Freshteam ATS did for Ultius 

Before Freshteam, Ultius used to wrestle with color-coded spreadsheets to keep track of candidates - candidates were lost to dusty excels, not everyone understood what the color codes meant and somewhere in between efficiency left the house!

According to Melissa, with the Freshteam applicant tracking system, they now screen 40% more resumes and are able to land quality candidates

Applicant tracking system - Case study Applicant tracking system - Case study
A leaf from Udhyam’s hiring success with the Freshteam ATS

When you are in the business of making a difference, you have to go the extra mile in many aspects. For Udhyam, hiring was one of them. They had a unique hiring process where candidates spent up to 3 - 5 days at their office, during which time they were evaluated on multiple tasks and skills...

According to Mekin, the Freshteam applicant tracking system,

  • enables them to efficiently process large volumes of inbound applications to find the star applicants while still ensuring an impeccable candidate experience.

  • they are able to configure the system to automatically send out communication to stakeholders when something happens in the process. 

Applicant tracking system (ATS) - Case study Applicant tracking system (ATS) - Case study

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