At Applied, we use APIs and webhooks to help you connect to external services. These sound complicated, but the concepts are quite straightforward. We've outlined them below.
APIs - like drive-thru windows
Put very simply, an API (application programming interface) is a way to talk to a software programme.
Think of it like a drive-thru window at McDonald’s:
Nobody wants to go into the kitchen and rummage around for their own quarter pounder, so McDonald's has a list of requests you can make - the menu - and there is a window that you can drive up to and make those requests. This is how an API works.
If it knows what it wants from the menu, one application (like Applied) can approach another via a drive-thru-like window and request it. Once the order (information of some sort) is served, the application can then leave to consume this however it wants.
We could ask our application to approach Spotify and request a list of songs, for example, or make a trip to Twitter to request all the tweets that mention us.
At Applied, we have what we call a Jobs API. This is a drive-thru window from which your website or careers page can ‘order’ all the roles that your organisation is currently hiring for.
(If built to allow for it, APIs can also be used not just to request information but to update it, delete it or add to it…but McDonald’s won’t let you delete their menu items at a drive-thru, so the analogy doesn’t stretch!)
Webhooks - like a delivery app
Now imagine you’ve decided not to make the trip to the drive-thru, but have placed an order on a delivery app instead and you’re waiting for your order to arrive.
When your order has left the restaurant (an event), your app will send you a push notification to tell you this has happened. This might be the signal you need to wash your hands, pour yourself a drink or prepare cash for a tip (actions).
This is how a webhook works. An event triggers an action.
When the order is marked as 'out for delivery', set the table and wash hands.
One programme sends a notification when an event happens. The other listens for it and takes action when it receives the news.
When a candidate submits an application, send an email to the hiring manager.
At Applied we have two kinds of webhook event:
The ‘Hired’ event
This is like a push notification we generate when you mark a candidate as hired. You can use it to trigger an onboarding flow in your HRIS, or to notify your Talent Acquisition team of the hire in Slack.
The ‘New Application’ event
This is the message we generate every time a new candidate submits an application to your role. You can use it to trigger an email to your team or send a Slack notification to the Hiring Manager.
Note that a webhook consists of two parts: the trigger event and the resultant action. We have built the events above. The actions you wish to take when they happen are up to you.
You can set up a tool like Zapier to listen for these events and trigger an appropriate action when it hears one, but you will need some understanding of Zapier or some support from technical staff at your organisation.