Recruiters spend less than 15 minutes on an application that might have taken a candidate hours to fill. This is not surprising as one job opening is likely to draw hundreds of responses.
Most recruiters spend a quarter of their time screening candidates and yet candidates often report a poor experience. And, recruiters will tell you that it’s still difficult to find the right candidate despite the volume of responses. This is because most companies cannot find the time to engage with the candidate and the candidate ends up feeling that their application was lost in the crowd.
A poor candidate experience is one of the major concerns organisations face. In the case of B2C companies, the fact that candidates could be potential customers adds an extra dimension to the problem.
Now imagine a world where your candidates are treated as welcome visitors to your website or social media page. They are greeted with courtesy as soon as they arrive. After understanding the purpose of their visit, they are directed to the appropriate job application. They are accompanied and assisted while they fill in the application and invited for an interview if they are suitable. No, this is not the description of the reception at a five-star hotel. This is a candidate experience assisted by an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot for recruitment.
Chatbots have been around before the internet. The first chatbot (Eliza) dates back to 1966! The concept was in relative hibernation until Facebook placed chatbots in messengers in 2016, and since then they seem to have mushroomed everywhere. A hubspot survey indicated that 57% of the respondents were interested in getting information from bots when browsing a business website. In 2019, Gartner predicted that by 2022, 70% of white-collar workers will interact with conversational platforms on a daily basis. According to another Gartner research, 35% of organisations will move to a conversational job application process with the help of chatbots and natural language processing (NLP) by 2022.
What’s an AI chatbot for recruitment?
Now that’s the question, right?
We know that the world has moved on to accept chatbots as a way of life, but how do you incorporate this into your recruitment process? The more pertinent question would be, would it help you?
Recruitment chatbots are conversational platforms powered with AI and NLP capabilities. They are the quintessential recruiter’s dream assistant. They can be incorporated into email, text, social media solutions, other messaging applications, and company home pages. They can then be used to automate the communication between the recruiter and the candidate. In fact, recruitment chatbots could be designed to be the first touch point with candidates and gather comprehensive information about candidates.
Chatbots! But why?
If you have a high recruitment volume and need to scale rapidly, chatbots are a good idea. Sometimes the ideal candidate could fall through the cracks of your keywords and other hiring attributes. Have you asked the right questions and have you seen all the responses? This is a question that could plague a recruiter. It is also possible that you could lose the right candidate because of your inordinately long hiring process and lack of continuous engagement with the candidate.
Chatbots are a viable solution for all of these concerns. A chatbot that is designed to screen all candidates for suitability and also keep the communication channels open with the candidate would elevate your candidate experience and your screening capability.
Ask yourself if you have any of the below problems. If you do, it’s time to explore the idea of using recruitment chatbots.
- I have a recruitment staff crunch but do not want to invest in a larger team because of fluctuating requirements.
- There is no dearth of candidates, but we can’t seem to find the right ones.
- Lead generation at the top end of the funnel is my biggest challenge.
- I want to focus on diversity but feel the inherent bias of my team.
- I’ve lost good candidates to the competition purely because of poor candidate experience.
Is it all good news from the chatbot front?
Like all good things, you need to know the nuances and limitations of using a chatbot in order to circumvent them and enhance the overall positive impact.
Empathy: Yes, AI and NLP enable chatbots to converse in a relatively human manner. They however haven’t nailed the empathy bit yet. Your chatbot might not get it when a candidate is being sarcastic or makes a joke. Sometimes, candidates could ask questions that are beyond the chatbot’s understanding. You need to weave in points of human interaction into your process flow to prevent a “robotic” experience.
Decision-making: While AI powered chatbots are able to continuously learn and improve, they still fall short when it comes to decision making. For example, if a candidate is asked, “Do you understand content marketing?”,the candidate could respond, “ Yes, I understand content marketing, butI have not worked in content marketing.” The chatbot might be confused with this answer. That is why it is important to build pre-screening models based on the previous data collected to help the chatbots.
Language-barrier: Slang, writing style and acronyms differ across the geographies and age groups. These nuances might be difficult for the chatbot to understand. It is important to make sure that the chatbot knows how to respond in such scenarios without adding to the confusion.
Where do I fit my chatbot?
A chatbot can be designed to be candidate facing, internal-facing or both. Chatbots can be used to collect basic candidate information. For example, when candidates apply on a company’s website, a chatbot could converse with them and ask relevant questions about work experience, previous employment details and other relevant skills. The chatbot could then rank the candidates based on the company’s requirements metrics. If the candidate is suitable for the position, the chatbot could check the hiring team’s availability and schedule the next set of tests and interviews. Chatbots are also good at keeping the candidate engaged by answering frequently asked questions.
There’s a pot of gold at the end of the chatbot rainbow!
Investing in recruitment chatbots is well worth the effort. Let’s take a look at the myriad gains that they bring to the table.
Increases candidate engagement and satisfaction.
Recruitment chatbots reduce the time taken to respond to candidate queries on frequently asked questions. This significantly elevates the candidate experience. They also enable the delivery of consistent communication, while taking away the possibility of human inconsistencies.
These chatbots can be designed to be the first level of communication to the candidate, ensuring structured, transparent, and timely communication.
Reduces time to hire
While a traditional recruitment process might take a few weeks for the first evaluation process, chatbots could reduce the time taken for the initial screening to a day or even lesser.
This significantly increases your ROI and also increases your ability to hire the right people.
Your chatbot could be active in different processes within your recruitment cycle. For example, the same chatbot that’s conversing with a candidate on a social media channel, could also be helping the recruiter to rank candidates within the ATS. This helps you scale your recruitment process quickly and efficiently.
Reduces bias in hiring
Chatbots reduce the bias that could unconsciously creep into the hiring process. The initial screening of the candidates will be done based on predefined criteria that precludes bias.
A wider candidate pool
Candidates are often dissuaded by the complicated, time consuming application process that many companies have. A chatbot that gathers basic candidate information through a conversational approach would attract more candidates.
Increases efficiency for the hiring team
Hiring teams are often so bogged down by the initial rounds of communication and screening that they do not have enough time to dedicate to planning and strategizing. Chatbots free you from the repetitive mind numbing work that constitutes the major part of recruitment. You’ll have time to focus on the final interviews of the shortlisted candidates and other higher order tasks.
Demonstrates a modern engaging company culture
A recent Inc survey states that “there are 3 things that most matter to millennials in the companies they work for: 1) growth opportunities, 2) retirement benefits, and 3) work culture.”
The conversational nature of chatbots and the quick response time makes them a good addition to demonstrate your work culture.
Organisations, big and small are gravitating towards using recruitment chatbots. The benefits far outweigh the perceived challenges. When you decide to include this handy tool in your recruitment toolkit, just make sure that you and your team understand the systems you are integrating with the chatbot. Remember that AI learning does take time and account for that time in your planning. Make sure that recruitment processes are designed with the view that chatbots will not replace human engagement. They are there to assist and give your team a bit of a breather from some of the routine repetitive processes. In fact, it would make sense to pay careful attention to the screening questions. Use candidate net promoter scores and other metrics to gain insight into chat engagement and conversion rates. Use this information to identify gaps and tweak your process.
Good Luck with your new chatbot!