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40 Questions to Ask When Evaluating an Applicant Tracking System for Your Restaurant Business

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The restaurant industry is known for a particularly high turnover rate. Restaurant owners regularly rate “recruiting and retaining employees” as a top operational challenge.

As high as it may seem, studies have found that even “an $8/hour employee can end up costing a company around $3,500 in turnover costs, both direct and indirect.” Multiply this cost by many employees during the course of a year, and the true cost of turnover starts to add up.

To control your labor costs, it’s critical that you leverage any tool you can to push back against a high retention rate. Although hiring has been thrown for a loop during the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of finding and retaining good restaurant employees has never been more clear.While there are many cultural and operational changes you can implement to reduce turnover amongst your current staff, one of the key factors to improve retention is finding the right candidates in the first place.

To help find the right talent, restaurant owners and operators are starting to turn to applicant tracking systems (ATS) to manage the hiring process. An ATS can help you secure dynamic, reliable talent for your business.

Are you wondering how an ATS can be helpful for your business? Let’s dive into the details, plus go over the questions you should be asking in your research.

What is the purpose of applicant tracking systems?

An applicant tracking system is a software solution that is designed to streamline the hiring and onboarding experience. An ATS can be used to collect candidate data, automatically track applicant progress, and share information securely across an organization.In short, an ATS makes it easier for someone to apply for a job at your restaurant, and for your hiring manager to track the applicant in each stage of the process. Ultimately, it has the potential to improve the hiring experience for both managers and your potential new restaurant employees.

With automation and easy communication, an ATS can help support the main reason you’re focusing on hiring: to improve retention. Your restaurant managers can monitor the progress of candidates through the hiring process, ranking applicants and easily reviewing resumes on one central dashboard. With condensed information, all at their fingertips, your managers are equipped to make better hiring decisions.An ATS is also key for helping your business scale. By optimizing your hiring workflow, you are taking what used to be extremely manual tasks and adding in efficiencies. Especially if you are potentially scaling operations in the coming year, this tool can be key to addressing the seemingly never-ending process of hiring.

Finally, because an ATS can help you make the most of your restaurant manager’s limited time, they are able to spend more time developing a relationship with a candidate. Not only have you sped up your team processes, but you’re also leaving a better impression on potential new employees.

Types of applicant tracking systems

Applicant tracking systems feature many different kinds of tools. Features like restaurant position templates can help managers be efficient and write better job postings. Other ATS may offer features like monitoring active and passive candidates, so you are able to reach out if the right role opens up.

There are applicant tracking systems for every kind of industry. Many industries, including the restaurant industry, may use certain systems that enable skills tests.For restaurant owners, restaurant-specific ATS can provide particularly helpful features for the hiring process (which we’ll explore below).

The role of the ATS in diversity and inclusion standards

All businesses need a diverse, inclusive, and talented team. An ATS can help contribute to your diversity and inclusion goals by offering a repeatable, thorough evaluation process.

Consider looking for an ATS that allows interviewers to rate all candidates on certain metrics, using a consistent framework. Using this tool in your hiring process can help ensure that your managers can compare applicants on an even playing field.

Why it’s important to have a restaurant-specific ATS

While there are many different applicant tracking systems to choose from, a restaurant-specific ATS can provide certain benefits for restaurant owners and operators.

First, you want your managers to be able to operate the ATS as efficiently as possible. A restaurant is an endlessly busy place, with constant small tasks requiring your store-level managers’ attention.

A restaurant-specific ATS can contain useful tools like custom notifications that let your restaurant managers know when a certain stage of the hiring process is complete, like someone new has submitted a resume or responded to an interview request. Customization can help ensure good candidates don’t slip through the cracks, and your managers don’t have to spend too much time on the platform.

Other features, like internal communication attached to applicant profiles, can make it even easier for managers to share feedback on potential new hires. And with job description, email, or outreach templates specific to the restaurant industry, your team doesn’t need to waste time completing repetitive tasks.

Finally, just like with all other software tools, you want your ATS to be completely integrated with all your other restaurant management software, from payroll to human resources (HR). A restaurant-specific ATS may be more likely to sync completely with other technology you use in operations.

40 Questions to Ask the ATS provider

Before you consider any software solution, there are key questions you should be asking in your research. When evaluating applicant tracking systems for your restaurant business, ensure that the ATS vendor can answer yes to all of these questions.

Promoting Accessibility

  • Does the system operate in real time?
  • Is the ATS cloud based?
  • Does the ATS work on mobile devices?
  • Can users log in on any computer, using any browser?
  • Is there a limit to the number of users who can have access to the system?
  • Can the ATS post to minority, industry/job-specific and other specialized job boards, directly from the user interface?

Ease of Use

  • Is the ATS specific to the restaurant industry?
  • Can we automate posting job listings on multiple job boards simultaneously?
  • Does the system offer templates for typical restaurant jobs?
  • Does the ATS allow us to create our own branded careers webpage?
  • Can we easily customize the hiring process by job listing?
  • Can a candidate update a resume/CV or profile?

Tracking Applicants

  • Can we customize the workflow of the hiring process?
  • Does the ATS provide a consistent evaluation process?
  • Can we enter feedback, including confidential comments?
  • Does the system secure the best candidates with automatic alerts?
  • Does the ATS allow candidates to create and save a profile for future consideration?

Adding Efficiencies

  • Does the system easily qualify candidates with customizable prescreen and interview templates?
  • Does the ATS come with a defined workflow?
  • Can we search emails and notes by applicant name?
  • Can the ATS ensure quick identification of potential talent?
  • Can the ATS help to reduce our administrative workload?
  • Can the ATS help me drive operational ROI efficiencies?

Candidate Management

  • Can we communicate directly with applicants through the ATS?
  • Does the ATS facilitate internal communication regarding candidates?
  • Can the ATS route resumes/CVs to hiring managers for review and action?
  • Does the ATS allow us to qualify candidates intelligently with personality assessments and interview guides?
  • Does your ATS automatically track email communications?
  • Can we view email and text activity within the ATS?
  • Does the ATS track the source of the application?
  • Does the ATS use prescreen questions to ask the most important questions first to easily identify the best candidate?
  • Does the hiring manager receive an alert when we have an ideal candidate?

Improving Retention and Onboarding

  • Does the system meet diversity and inclusion standards?
  • Are Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) screening forms integrated in the system?
  • Can we add pre-screen questions to assist candidates in the self-selection process?
  • Does the ATS track a candidate’s EEOC information?
  • Are there automated emails for different parts of the candidate journey?
  • Does the ATS have the ability to ensure a great candidate experience?
  • Does the ATS give us the tools to keep candidates informed?
  • Is the onboarding process automated?


All restaurant operators and owners know that retention is key to building a healthy workplace culture, as well as optimizing labor costs. And retention doesn’t just start the day a new hire walks through the door—it starts from the very beginning of the hiring process. If you’re considering using an ATS, make sure to ask the right questions today, so you are prepared for hiring tomorrow.

Restaurant365 HIRE makes it easy to attract, hire and retain the best employees for your restaurant group. Request a free demo of R365 HIRE today.