Recruitment Chatbots 101: Do you need to use a bot for your recruitment strategy?

Hire smarter: Attracting AI & IT Talent in 2019

Robots have started replacing humans in thousands of jobs in various industries, from medicine to manufacturing. The increasingly important role of Artificial Intelligence has also reached the world of recruiting; a field where human intuition and communication have always reigned supreme. Chatbots – software programs that use A.I. and an interactive chat interface– are now being used by recruiters to help them communicate more efficiently with candidates.

If you’ve ever answered questions in a chat window online with, say, your mobile service provider, you’ve probably spoken to a chatbot. Some recruiting chatbot solutions are simply designed to answer yes/no questions, while others have more advanced capabilities to engage in complex conversations with job-seekers. It seems that chatbots have become ubiquitous are a hot trend for many companies, but how essential are they for recruitment?

Here are the many ways chatbots can help your recruiting process:

Save time.

Recruiters and staffing agencies often get a slew of emails and phone calls from job-seekers requesting initial meetings or information. When the volume of these inquiries exceeds expectations, it can potentially overload assistants and admin staff, resulting in frustration and possibly in missed opportunities with potential candidates. Enter chatbots.

Chatbots are smart messaging interfaces that can appear on a recruitment firm’s website, app, or social media page. They allows newcomers to talk to the agency to get some of the information they need immediately, and at any time of day – kind of like a 24/7 receptionist. The chatbot can be programmed to ask candidates essential preliminary questions about their current employment status, citizenship, contact information, and more. This initial screening takes the pressure off a recruiter’s admin team – saving them valuable time, and ensuring that every candidate is being engaged with right away.

Pre-screen candidates.

Not only can a chatbot free up time for a recruiter’s admin team by engaging with a new job-seeker, it can pre-screen candidates, too. Chatbots can be programmed to answer binary (yes/no) questions and hold realistic conversations as well. If, for example, a person applies for a position on a recruiter’s website, the bot can ask the candidate questions about their industry of interest, years of experience, education, and so on. After a conversation, the chatbot program can actually evaluate whether or not the individual has the right qualifications for the position. This can vastly help cut down on the number of applications a recruiter has to review before booking interviews.

Bolster ongoing communication.

Sometimes, it can be challenging to get back to a candidate after they have tried to get in touch. Moreover, admin can sometimes drop the ball and fail to call back job-seekers in time, or can act too slowly when it comes to pre-screening. By engaging with a chatbot, a candidate might feel as though they are being heard immediately, rather than potentially feeling ignored. This can help initiate a positive relationship between a job-seeker and a recruiter.

Set up interviews.

After the pre-screening process, a chatbot can also take over the task of setting up phone calls or meetings. By automating this rather tedious scheduling process, recruiters and their team have more time to focus on the candidate.

Less nerve-wracking first interactions.

Not all candidates are confident and articulate. For some people, a phone call with a stranger can be a daunting experience. Since many people are more comfortable texting rather than talking on the phone nowadays, interacting with a chatbot to answer preliminary questions can potentially ease the anxieties of less socially-adept job-seekers.

Some drawbacks:

Chatbots can really take the load off of recruiters when it comes to the initial phases of screening job-seekers, however their functions are quite limited. They tend to lack a lot of the creative problem-solving that us humans have, and aren’t the be-all answer to screening. Here’s where chatbots fall short:

A hard time with exceptions to rules.

Chatbots operate on a series of rules created by a developer and the recruiters that have implemented the software. For example, a chatbot can screen candidates by asking if they have university degrees as this is perhaps a key qualification for a position. There are, however, always exceptions to rules, and a chatbot could potentially fail to pass along a highly-successful, self-taught candidate. Essentially, chatbots are good at processing straight-forward cases, but can fail when a situation isn’t black and white.

They get lost in translation.

Chatbots learn over time, and they can be quite sophisticated when it comes to deciphering various questions, answers, and writing styles. They can, however, sometimes be tone deaf when it comes to candidates who use a particular writing style, or has a different mother tongue and difficulty writing. Humans are usually better at decoding unfamiliar writing or speech.

Bots can be frustrating a times.

If you’ve ever waited on hold to speak to an operator because a system’s multiple choice questions aren’t relevant to your issue, you can better understand how chatting with a chatbot can be frustrating in some instances. Chatbots can’t answer every question or concern, and people might become irritated if they can’t just pick up the phone and speak to a human.

While the genteel C-3PO from Star Wars could actually make decent recruiter, robots –or A.I software – simply aren’t the same as humans when it comes to assessing a candidate’s situation. Essentially, chatbots are useful for the initial screening process, and can help cut down on the number of clearly unqualified candidates. Their time-saving capabilities and ability to interact with candidates to create an initial relationship can increase a recruitment firm’s overall efficiency, but their advantages mostly end there.

Chatbots also come with a cost, and some time is needed to set up rules and to integrate the bot into a recruitment firm’s website or social media page. In short, chatbots can be a real asset, but they aren’t 100% necessary for any recruitment firm – at least not for now.