Decoding Applicant Tracking Systems: Who Gets the Green Light? [With Video]

Written by Darren Kanthal

March 7, 2024

A photo of two people working together in front of a computer while cross-checking with their other documents

Video Transcription:

All right, this is an appeal to those experts in the job search arena who are talking this big game about the applicant tracking systems being smart enough to filter candidates based upon some sort of fit.

I spent almost 20 years in talent acquisition. I have a lot of friends in talent acquisition, and nobody I know works with a system that is smart enough to automatically rule you in or out for any job.

Now, there are pre-screen questions that may knock you out, such as — are you eligible to work in the United States, do you have a degree, do you have X years of experience etc, etc. That is not artificial intelligence. There is a human behind the system that programs that. Now, there are some AI capabilities, such as a service called Olivia, which, through text messaging, asks you a bunch of the applicant tracking system questions.

Looking for Proof

I have no proof that the applicant tracking system has the intelligence to screen you in or out without a human also being involved. And this is where I need your help. If you’re one of the experts that say the applicant tracking system does, please respond and let us know what system you’re talking about.

Now, I do want to say too that with Chat GPT, it’s possible in the very near future that capability will be integrated. But it’s not right now, to my understanding, and I’m not all-knowing. I’m not suggesting I have all of the answers.

From my experience, the applicant tracking system does what it’s supposed to do. It houses candidates, it helps with the workflows, it helps to be the repository, and it helps with the online application process, but it does not automatically rule a candidate in or out, good or bad, fit or no fit for a job.

Are Applicant Tracking Systems Playing Fair?

So this is, again, where I’m asking for help. If you have knowledge of systems that do that automatically. Please respond. I’m really trying to have a dialogue here. For those that don’t know, I’m a leadership coach. Over the past 5 years, I’ve worked directly with plenty of job seekers and formerly, I spent almost 20 years in talent acquisition.

So, if there’s anything in this world I’m an expert in, it is job search-related stuff. And I share that just for context. Again, I’m open to the dialogue. I’m not suggesting I have all the answers. I’m just looking for more answers that maybe support what I’m suggesting, which is the applicant tracking system is not that smart, or what other people are suggesting, which it is that smart.


Alright, that’s my take on it! Now, over to you—what’s your two cents? I’m all ears for your thoughts and comments! Let’s keep the conversation rolling!

You can email me here, or hit me up on LinkedIn here!

Darren Kanthal

Darren Kanthal, Founder of The Kanthal Group, is a values-driven leadership and career coach with over 20 years of experience in HR and Talent Acquisition. Darren is intensely passionate about helping mid-career leaders cut through the BS, do the foundational work, and achieve their greatness.


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