Hire Your First 10 Employees with Our Free ATS


Cluster is the first marketplace for hardware companies to hire full-time engineers. Hire talent with expertise honed at top companies in climate tech, aerospace, automotive, robotics and more.


  • We have built a free tool to help you collect job applications, organize applicants and keep you on top of your candidate funnel.
  • Recruiting can be overwhelming, but most applicant tracking systems are overkill for early-stage startups who are hiring their first employees. Founders need things that are simple, useful and easy to implement.
  • We built the template for you in Airtable, a free and powerful visual database tool that is easy to customize and connect (via tools like Zapier or APIs) to other systems.

Getting started

We’ve been utilizing Airtable to collect applications and manage our internal recruiting funnel since we launched Cluster, and it has been tremendously helpful to our team. Airtable is quick to learn, easy to configure and best of all, it’s free. These are all things that founders need from tools.

For over a year, we’ve built complex tracking, detailed interview funnels and all kinds of integrations using Zapier, Slack and their API (paid plan only for the API), but in reality, there are just a few simple features that really matter, and so we’ve configured a template with these core features that you can copy and utilize for your company.

Download the database

  • Fill out your email in the "Get the Free ATS" form on this page, and we’ll email you a link
  • Click the email and In the upper right corner of the open page click, “Copy base”
  • You might need to create an account; if not you’re pretty much done

Familiarize yourself with the setup

When you open the database, click “Views” (left side of the white toolbar) and then select the “Everything View”. This is an unfiltered, unordered view that shows all columns and rows. Feel free to delete all of the example records here when you’re ready to get started, but I recommend waiting until after you have had a chance to familiarize yourself with the database.


This is a single select column where you’ll add your open positions. We use these to organize and filter candidates in other views. To edit, click the dropdown arrow in the top of the column, and select “Customize field type” which will allow you to edit, delete, add and assign colors to the options.

Interview stage

We have pre-populated this column with useful stages in our recommended hiring process. These stages are used for sorting (hence the numbering) and kanban views. If you’re going to customize these steps, I would suggest simplifying instead of adding new stages. Every time you add a step or stage to any column, you are adding complexity and overhead that often will not be utilized in the long run. Less is usually more here. 

Candidate notes

Candidate notes is a long text field with rich text formatting enabled. We’ve found that the easiest way to follow a candidate’s history is to have all interviewers add notes to a single section rather than to break them out across different fields.

Assigned to (last column)

This reference column links to the Interviewers listed in the Interviewers tab. Hiring managers can utilize this to see who on your team has been assigned the next action and follow up with the right person to get updates. Add names in the Interviewer tab to add new options within this column.

Expanding records

Hover over the first column of any base and click the Expand record button to see the full view of any record.  

Views will keep you organized

Open the views side drawer and select the Active Candidates view. I use this tab about 90% of the time. It’s grouped by role, filtered to only show active candidates and each group is sorted by stage. Everything you need to get an overview of the process is right in front of you. As you make hires and fill roles, add a filter to remove the role to keep this view fresh.

Other useful views:

  • New Candidates: check this tab to make sure any new applicants have been screened either in or out of the recruiting process.
  • Assigned Interviewer: this makes it easy to check your own tasks...or to know who to harass
  • Applicants by stage: this Kanban view is a convenient way to check on the status of your funnel. 

Utilize forms as your job application and first filter

The customizable forms feature is really a phenomenal tool within Airtable and key to helping you filter out unqualified applicants. Click on Views, then select the Application Role 1 form to follow.

You can link to your form or embed it in your website, and all responses populate the fields in your database. 

Forms are highly customizable, and you can have multiple different forms populate the same fields. This becomes useful when you want to ask customized screening questions as part of your application process. I cannot stress enough how much great screening questions will save you from scheduling calls with people you don’t want to interview. 

If you want to have custom applications for different roles, do the following:

  1. Copy your old application
  2. Click the “Select the role for which you are applying” question, then flip the “Limit selection to specific options” toggle and only select the relevant roles.
  3. Scroll down to the “Input your first question here”, and change the first, second and third questions.

The results from the custom questions will populate the same three columns as questions asked for other roles, keeping everything organized the same way within the database.

Integrations and notifications

Thanks to automation tools like Zapier and Integromat, it is easy to integrate Airtable with other applications. We have data flowing both ways from Airtable bases, but the most useful integration is Slack. 

Everytime someone fills out a job application, it sends a Slack message with the entire application response to our #applicants channel. You’ll be able to review applicants without even opening Airtable and Slack creates an instant way for the team to evaluate new candidates.

If you've found this useful, we'd love your feedback or examples of how you're using the tool so we can share ideas with more startups. Send them to Justin at the @clusterinc.com email.

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Published on
November 12, 2020