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Top 10 Questions to Ask Recruitment Software Vendors (Plus 5 They Hate)

Top 10 Questions To Ask Recruitment Software Vendors

If you’re about to switch over to new recruitment software, it’s important to ask any tech vendors the right questions. You can’t confidently make the switch unless you’re sure the relationship will help your business.

How to decide if a new software vendor is trustworthy? Take a look at these top 10 questions that will reveal if they’re a good fit for your recruitment agency or not.

And as a special bonus, ask one of the 5 questions vendors hate to really dig into the nitty-gritty of what they can offer. Read on to find out how to evaluate software vendors wisely.

1. Ask yourself first: Why do you need recruitment software?

Recruitment software is definitely useful, but not if you don’t know what you’re after. If you’re going to invest in a new platform, make sure it suits your purposes.

Before you start your software search, ask yourself:

  • What purpose do I want this recruitment software to serve? e.g. Help with candidate sourcing
  • Does it have the features to actually achieve that? e.g: Does it analyze sourcing channels to show which give the best results?

The requirements for your staffing software can only come from carefully looking at your own operations or candidate sourcing strategies. What are the challenges and where are there opportunities for improvement?

Once you’re clear on your tech “wish list,” you can start thinking about requirements for your software vendor.

2. 10 questions to ask before hiring a software vendor

Deciding on the right software platform is an easy choice with a complex process. This is the first step to accelerating your company’s growth - or creating a huge mess.

You can avoid some bad outcomes with a few tough questions. Here are the top 10 questions any decent tech vendor should be able to answer.

2.1 How long have they been in business?

When researching potential vendors, think “longevity” first. Well-established businesses can make for more reliable partners than shiny new start-ups.

A general rule of thumb for tech vendors: look for those that are five or more years old. The talent market is always changing, but only some companies have made it through a bumpy ride. An experienced tech partner can be better prepared to help you during tough times.

Software development takes not just technical knowledge, but also substantial experience in project management. A vendor with years of R&D under their belt are more likely to deliver a high-quality product.

2.2 Does the vendor know your tech stack?

A staffing software vendor should understand your recruitment tech stack. The tech you use is precious; make sure the vendor you work with is confident in developing a solution for you.

For example, if you’ve got legacy technology to sunset at some point but it still needs development support in the meantime, can they work with that? Or will they recommend adopting more and more integrations?

A high-quality software vendor should have no problem fitting new tech into place seamlessly without causing problems.

2.3 Can you suggest new features?

You're happy with your software, except for one thing – what is it? Knowing and addressing these small “fix-it” problems can be helpful when adopting a new platform.

Keeping the flexibility to add in new features - especially user-suggested ones - can be a make-or-break factor. Is the vendor going to listen to your suggestions and work to provide sustainable solutions?

That doesn’t mean that any vendor will bend over backward to develop anything immediately. As they shouldn’t - too many customer requests could break the system. But if they take your suggestions on board and either find ways to configure a fix or add it to their roadmap, that’s a good sign.

2.4 Will they sign a non-disclosure agreement?

Innovative software solutions can be stolen from companies by vendors who don't want to sign an NDA. There’s extra risk when outside developers are hired for projects and given access before you've had time to set up your own infrastructure.

The ultimate tech nightmare: the vendor’s team or contractors create a competing product instead of helping you.

Try to get outside input at this stage so that there will be no conflict between teams working on similar projects (and make sure everyone understands what restrictions apply).

2.5 Who owns the source code?

Usually a vendor or their contractor will own the source code, but it's important to know for sure before entering into an agreement.

If you can’t find a definite answer when researching, make sure that the vendor’s clear on whether copyright law gives them sole rights over all intellectual properties related to the project.

2.6 What's the invoicing process?

Each vendor handles invoicing differently, so it’s important to know the how and when of your bills.

Some questions you might go over with the vendor:

  • How often do they send invoices?
  • Do they require upfront payment?
  • Are there any discounts for early payment?
  • What methods of payment do they accept?
  • Are there late fees and penalties?

Besides that, ask about any flexibility the vendor may have on the invoicing process. If you have a preferred method or schedule, the vendor just might be able to accommodate you.

2.7 How do they handle intellectual property?

In recruitment and in tech, data is king. There’s not just compliance to worry about when protecting data, but potential intellectual property disputes about your software too.

Ask how the vendor protects your data and how they’ll use or share your data. You should also ask about the vendor's licensing agreement and whether it allows you to use the software for your own purposes or only for theirs.

2.8 What’s the scalability of this platform?

Many recruitment technology companies will advertise their product as “scalable.” But the reality is it might not hold up under the stress of a growing business.

Before investing time and money into a new system for your company, be sure that you ask the vendor what this system can really handle - including examples of enterprise projects, if available. There shouldn’t be any surprises down the road!

2.9 How will they migrate your data?

Data migration can be a time-intensive, expensive, nerve-wracking process. But don’t let that put you off.

This is critical: how will this vendor handle your business’s data? How many years of data do you want them to migrate? Which fields? What will they do with duplicate, archived, or incorrect info?

If your data gets messed up, it’s - understatement - a pretty big deal. Never skip your due diligence on data migration.

2.10 How does the platform work with integrations?

Some integration with other applications is essential to your operations. You don’t want to build a fractured tech stack, but don’t leave behind good items either.

Ask your vendor questions like:

  • How easy is this software to integrate with your existing systems?
  • What kind of support does the vendor offer?
  • What are the potential risks and challenges associated with integration?

By asking these questions, you can get a better sense of whether or not a particular vendor is the right fit for your business.

3. Bonus: 5 questions that recruitment software vendors hate

So you've finally decided. It’s time to switch recruitment software... or maybe you’re planning on getting a CRM/ATS for your recruitment firm for the first time. Well, good luck because you’ve just stepped into the dark and scary world of recruitment software selection. We’re just kidding... but every recruitment business owner has heard stories about hidden costs, data ransoms, and being locked into long, unsatisfying contracts….how can you protect yourself from joining their ranks?

Selecting the right technology platform for your recruitment or staffing company is an important business decision. It will either accelerate your growth or become the dreaded "system" that you and your consultants resent. So don’t shy away from the tough questions that every vendor hopes you don’t ask.

We’ve identified the top 5 questions that recruitment technology vendors hope you don’t have the intelligence - or the balls - to ask.

3.1 How can I get my data out? How much will it cost?

When it comes to data import, it’s relatively simple… if you’re (very) lucky, the vendor will get your data into the system for free but most vendors will charge you $$$ upfront. Either pay or do it yourself- there’s no other way about it.

However, getting your data into the system is only half the battle. One of the most important questions you need to ask the vendor is how can you get your data out should the need arise.

You need to know:

  • How can I get my data out? Can I get a data export myself, directly from my account...or do I have to request support to do this for me?
  • How much will it cost?
  • What format will the data export be in? I.e., .csv format or SQL

Some vendors will say that they’ll give you your data for free- great (get it in writing) - but you have to make sure that the format is usable.

Make sure you have in print an outline of the data export process, export format and costs associated with it. A great vendor will never threaten you or attempt to hold your data hostage in order to keep you. Remember that.

3.2 Can I do a fully-featured trial?

When a salesperson gives you a demo of the system, everything works just fine and it all looks good. You like it and buy it...but when you get into your system and start to really use it, you wish you hadn’t signed the contract. Buyer’s remorse - but for a business-critical system you and your team need to use every day.

Every smart sales consultant will walk you through the juicy bits, the cool features and show you the stuff that works. That’s how they close deals, but what makes you think that you found ‘The One’ after just a short demo session led by the vendor?

Make sure that what you’re seeing is what you’re getting. Sometimes the critical features you really need like recruitment analytics, email integrations and APIs are add-ons and come at an additional cost. Don’t be afraid to ask questions so you’ll know what’s included and what's not.

A great vendor won’t hold back on showing you all that they have- because they (should) have nothing to hide. You should be able to get a trial… and in an account with access to all the features. How else will you determine if the system is right for you?

Use the trial period to really evaluate the system:

  • Does the software match your business processes?
  • Can you configure the system to match your needs? If so, can you configure it yourself or do you have the pay the vendor to do this for you?
  • Can I easily integrate it with my email, calendar and LinkedIn account?
  • Are my team members using it? Is the price point reasonable for us? Does this represent good value?

3.3 How often are there releases/upgrades...& what’s the product roadmap like?

Another question you should be asking is "When was the last product release?"

Understanding how often releases are deployed gives you a good indication of the vendor’s pace of innovation. Go to their product blog or website to see what’s been included in previous releases: is it just bug fixes or newly added features?

A great software vendor continuously adds new features that enhance efficiencies, improving the User Experience and helping you make more placements. You’re looking for a platform that is capable of innovating to match the industry’s needs and most importantly, your needs as you grow.

A great vendor will also share the product roadmap with specific timelines you so you know what’s coming and when. This also shows the vendor’s commitment to product innovation. Even if you are a one-person recruitment firm you should have some visibility into what your vendor has in the pipeline. "Can I vote on features?", "Do customers have influence on the product roadmap?" These are questions you should keep in mind.

3.4 Who’s behind the company?

Before you make the commitment, make sure you know the full story. Who are the founders of the company - are they ex-recruiters who understand the nuances of the industry or are they a bunch of developers who just happen to make ‘good enough’ software?

If they’re a start-up, are they backed by investors and who are they? There is nothing wrong with going with a smaller vendor, but make sure they can put you in touch with at least 3 customers so you can do a reference call and get the inside scoop. Likewise, if you’re dealing with one of the bigger vendors in the market are they too big to listen to your needs or will you become just "another customer"?

If they’re well established, are they gearing up for a major IPO? When a company devotes resources to getting the IPO, more often than not, innovation slows and prices hike. This means that you may end up using software that is lagging behind your competition and unable to suit your needs as you grow.

3.5 Do you have flexible pricing plans?

A great recruitment software vendor will scale with you in good times and bad.

Given the economic uncertainties today, the vendor shouldn’t lock you into 2-year or 5-year contracts. You decide how long you’ll stay, not them. You should be offered flexible pricing plans so you can choose to go monthly or sign an annual contract. That’s true Software-as-a-Service.

A few more things to bear in mind: if you sign up for an annual plan initially, do you have the option to switch to a monthly plan if you need to? How about if consultants leave your business, can you reassign their licence to someone else...or are you left paying for a seat that no one is sitting in?

One last thing: remember, transparency is the key to every successful relationship. Before you sign that contract, make sure you are happy with the answers to these questions. Don’t get burnt. Your business will suffer.

4. Final thoughts

Changing up recruitment software can be a big ask.

When considering a new recruitment software vendor, be sure to ask about their experience, customization options, ease of use, and customer support. Also, be sure to ask for references from other companies who have used the software.

By doing your research and asking the right questions, you can find the best recruitment software vendor for your company's needs.

If you’re keen to get started with recruitment software that ticks all the boxes, why not take a look at Vincere? Don’t take our word for it, see it for yourself.