Welcome to the fourth blog in this series on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). These blogs detail the elements in these systems that “auto-eliminate” jobseekers, based on the document that they upload into the system.

The last blog identified six filters that commonly known as “Knock-Out” questions. Here they are again.

Types of ATS Knock-Out Questions

  1. Work permissions
  2. Work Experience
  3. Software ability and technical questions
  4. Education and/or training
  5. Work preferences
  6. Demographic questions
The first three types of questions were covered in Part 1. This blog will cover the Numbers four and five on the list.

Again, I’m giving sounding an alarm:

WARNING! Some types of knock-out questions may appear to be innocent, short-answer questions.

It is these short-answer questions, that can cause the system to “auto-reject” your application. Read the questions carefully before you respond. Here’s how.

ATS: Questions about your education and/or training.

Education and training provide a direct and factual question that quickly weed-out candidates. These questions may be specific to the position.
Examples might include:
  • Do you currently hold PMI certification?
  • Are you currently certified in CPR?
  • Have you completed a PhD?
  • Is your degree from an accredited university?
  • Do you have a graduate degree?
  • Did you obtain your graduate degree online?

ATS differentiators

Carefully observe the details in each question. Did you notice the differentiators in these questions?
  • The first two questions use the word “currently”.
    • Do you currently hold PMI certification?
    • Are you currently certified in CPR?
  • The third question has the specific identifier, “completed.”
    • Have you completed an MBA?
  • In question number four, the key definer is “accredited.”
    • Is your degree from an accredited university?
  • In the last question, the word, “online” will determine your answer.

The challenge of ATS differentiators

The challenge to these short answer questions is that they don’t give the applicant enough information to give an appropriate response. The first two questions have a time indicator, “currently.” Are they asking about the status of the applicant at the time they apply for the position?

OR, are they asking if the certification will be current at the time they begin working?

For example:
What if a person is in the last semester of their degree program and expects to graduate within a month? How should the applicant answer?

Another example is the use of the word, “accredited”…in what way? Are they asking if the university is nationally accredited, or is the specific program, say engineering, accredited by a national accreditation organization? Again, there isn’t enough information.

You can learn more about responding to these questions, by signing up for Marcia’s Top Secrets

ATS Work Preference Questions

Work preference questions are tricky and I believe they catch candidates off-guard more than any other.

Be careful with these questions. They may seem inconsequential. However, at their core, hiring professionals are discerning whether a candidate will be successful in their cultural environment.

Examples may include:
  • Do you prefer a quiet work environment to one with music or conversation?
  • When you get stuck on a problem do you:
    1. Look for the answer on your own?
    2. Talk to a teammate?
    3. Go to your manager?
    4. Find an expert?
    5. Take an educated guess?
    6. Skip the problem and come back to it?
  • Do you prefer to work on projects in a team or as an independent contributor?
It is obvious, at least to me, that hiring professionals are fairly confident that the answers to these questions are capable of determining the future success of a candidate. They are allowing the ATS to auto-reject candidates who respond to these questions.

Because these questions are so important, I’ve created an approach to help jobseekers. You can access this information by signing up for Marcia’s Top Secrets.

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Changes are happening fast! It is possible to master the change process and remain relevant, active, and maintain an income stream.

Neil Patrick and I understood these changes which are coming quickly! That’s why we wrote Careermageddon.

Part 1 presents the Six Engines of Change and tells you what you need to know so you can read the jobs market and stay ahead of the curve.

Part 2 outlines a process to re-evaluate your skills as changes occur and establish your credibility with potential employers.

I hope you get the book. I hope you read it and embrace these changes so you and your family can enjoy the revenue you need and a future that is bright.

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