In this article from HR Technologist, we discuss how chatbots can be leveraged to not only reduce the recruiter’s workload but improve engagement, productivity, and the employee experience.

Technologies such as artificial intelligence and chatbots have quickly become ubiquitous over the last few years. In fact, a 2017 Forrester survey had found that nearly three-quarters of service provider AI decision makers believed that 85 percent of customer interactions will be with software robots in five years’ time. The survey also stated that 49 percent of these decision intended to augment their AI budgets by at least six percent within months and 87 percent planned to grow their AI workforce.

The Chatbot Infiltration

The human resource industry is on the verge of a long-awaited transformation and chatbots are the latest addition to the already groovy genus of artificial intelligence and machine. According to the 2017 edition of a study called Recruiting Trends, conducted by the University of Bamberg, only 3.3 percent of the top 1,000 companies currently use digital career advisers. The study also found that 53.2 percent of candidates believe that in the future chatbots will allow people to ask a company questions.

Recruitment and chatbots

In recruitment, an effective chatbot stands to make the HR department’s life much easier and accelerate the hiring process. They can lend a helping hand in the screening process by gathering information about prospective employees or executing rapid background checks. Suffice it to say that if they aren’t already, chatbots present exceptional potential to serve as the recruiters’ ideal assistant, doing all the heavy-lifting.

Improving the hiring process

Interview chatbots help grow the throughput of the HR’s pipeline. Simply put, they augment the department as well as the HR workforce’s bandwidth. To begin with, artificial intelligence in recruitment can be employed to stand in lieu of personnel manually screen candidates. In fact, they can also step in to replace elimination interview rounds. This, in turn, will allow the quality of hires to be boost since human HR professionals can then categorize applicants and contact the most appealing ones first instead of expending precious time talking to every prospect who should be ruled out. This augments quality by enabling professionals to concentrate their time, effort, and energy where the optimal scope for a high-quality match is present.

Talking to HR Technologist, Joe Edwards, U.S. Executive Director, Tonic3 and W3 said, “With the proper set-up, the bot can generate lots of useful information that can help HR professionals narrow in on the best candidates. In addition to knock-out questions, bots can help sort applicants by salary range, identify if an applicant has worked for specific industries, or even companies. They can also rank candidates by offering simple multiple-choice tests on language skills or custom-defined technical skills. Timestamps provide the time used to answer specific questions (and the whole interview).  The information stored in a database, and can be retrieved by applying filters that return short lists of candidates meeting a certain set of conditions.”

Candidate experience

Another important aspect of the recruitment process is the candidate’s experience. And unless chatbots are done and deployed correctly, it can lead to frustrating experiences for both candidates and recruiters.

Joe added, “A simple bot can be up and running in a few hours – but it takes weeks to do it well and months to refine it. And of course, there is the ongoing care to keep it performing. The biggest numerical justification we’ve seen for bots in HR comes from increased speed in filling positions and decreased costs by helping to maximize the human professional’s time.”

Adjusting the chatbot’s progression and demeanor i.e. formal or palsy; factual or capricious; etc., can help not only help an organization deliver a positive user experience but also ensure that the brand’s message comes across assertively. And from the job seeker’s perspective, 24×7 availability and instant response on any device is significant progress as compared to emails, which relies on human response and which, in some cases, never even happens.

Discussing the candidate’s perspective, Joe explained, “An instant response and availability 24/7 on any device, if properly designed, is a big leap forward compared to email communication which is dependent on a human response (and which sometimes never happens). In sum, a bot approach gives the candidate some level of control which they do not have in a traditional model.”

Proceed with caution

Organizations all over the world are already leveraging chatbots in innovative ways. Yet, there is absolutely not even an ounce of doubt that they can do so much more — especially when it comes to recruitment. However, to unleash the full potential chatbots have to offers, organizations must keep certain things in mind.

Joe explained, “First, bots are not dumb humans. They are bots. This has to be clear to the user by setting expectations and providing tips on how to answer. Recruiting bots (as opposed to customer service bots) lead the dialogue flow. This implies cautious dialogue design.”

He goes on to add, “Second, there is a temptation to make the bot really friendly and have it answer all kinds of background and cultural questions you imagine a candidate will have. That can be done, but it takes time and effort.  We suggest starting with a relatively narrow path that is friendly, but one that sets up a process, and then steers the user back into it whenever he/she wants to wander off.”

Finally, it is imperative to engage in solemn architecture sessions where the decision makers contemplate how dialogues can branch off and perhaps even draw up blueprints before the programming commences. In this context, having references can ensure you don’t lose sight of your primary goal(s).

Considering the current trend of artificial intelligence and automation in recruiting, chatbots have pronounced applications for substantially cutting down the recruiter’s workload. Be it interacting with hundreds of candidates concurrently, ensuring current employees’ satisfaction, or be conducive to a dependable brand as an employer, chatbots proffer immense potential to take up the mantle of the HR’s most trusted ally.


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