A How-To Guide For Using A Recruitment Chatbot

In 1950, Alan Turing predicted that by the year 2000, computers would be able to pass as human during a text conversation.

By 2020, Gartner predicts the average person will have more conversations with chatbots than with their spouse.

How will the adoption of chatbots affect recruiting?

With today’s tighter labour market, candidate experience has become increasingly important to attract talent.

Workopolis found 43% of candidates never hear back from a company after one touchpoint. On the flip side, it’s a challenge for employers to communicate well with all their candidates. For high volume recruiting, this would require communicating with thousands of candidates, in addition to a recruiter’s normal screening functions and other duties.

The solution that could benefit candidate experience without burdening recruiters with more work is part of the AI recruiting tech stack: the recruitment chatbot.

To help you better understand the benefits and challenges of adopting a chatbot to help screen and pre-qualify candidates, we created this how-to guide for recruiters and talent acquisition professionals.

Watch our 2-min video on how chatbots are being used in recruiting below:

Section 1

What is a recruitment chatbot?

A recruitment chatbot – or “conversational agent” – is a software application designed to mimic human conversational abilities during the recruiting process.

Similar to virtual personal assistants such as Alexa, Siri, and Google Now, a recruitment chatbot uses AI technology such as natural language processing to understand a person’s messages and know how to respond.

A chatbot can be used within various media:

  • email
  • SMS
  • social media profiles like Facebook
  • messaging apps like Slack
  • specific software such as an ATS

A chatbot can mimic a human’s conversational abilities in the sense that it’s programmed to understand written and spoken language and respond correctly.

To what extent a chatbot can pass for another human being, however, still remains to be seen.

Section 2

The benefits of using a chatbot

Interest in chatbots is accelerating due to the benefits they hold for both recruiters and candidates.

Benefit #1: Candidates are comfortable interacting with a chatbot

The #1 request from job seekers is “more communication.”

As Alexa, Siri, and Google Now become more common in our personal lives, communicating with a chatbot during the recruiting process is being embraced by candidates.

In a recent survey by Allegis, 58% of candidates were comfortable interacting with AI and recruitment chatbots in the early stages of the application process. An even larger percentage – 66% – were comfortable with AI and chatbots taking care of interview scheduling and preparation.

Today’s candidates are aware the recruiting process might not be human-to-human at every touchpoint, but value the chance to receive information in whatever way they can. Randstad found 82% of job seekers believe the ideal recruiter interaction is a mix between innovative technology and personal, human interaction.

As that attitude continues to evolve, so will the recruitment chatbot.

Benefit #2: A chatbot can help recruiters with administrative tasks

A recruitment chatbot can:

  • collect information from candidates such as their resume and contact information
  • ask screening questions about candidates’ experience, knowledge, and skills
  • rank candidates on metrics such as qualifications, engagement, or recent activity
  • answer FAQs about the job and the application process
  • schedule an interview with a human recruiter

All of this information can be collected in real life and simultaneously from hundreds to thousands of candidates. This information can then be fed into your ATS or sent directly to a human recruiter to follow up.  

Over time, the machine learning component of the chatbot will begin to understand which metrics it should be looking for based on the data it collects and rank candidates accordingly.

Benefit #3: A chatbot can help recruiters save a lot of time

Industry estimates predict a chatbot can automate up to 80% of top-of-funnel recruiting activities.

According to SHRM, the average cost of hire is $4,129 and the average time to hire is 42 days. By automating a large part of qualifying and scheduling while simultaneously keeping candidates engaged, a recruitment chatbot can dramatically lower both cost of hire and time to hire.

It’s important to keep in mind though that a recruitment chatbot is not designed to replace a human.

It’s estimated that 65% of resumes received for a role are ignored. By interacting with this ignored 65% of candidates, a chatbot is doing the tasks that already time-strapped human recruiters don’t have the time nor capacity to do in the first place.

If a recruitment chatbot can more quickly screen out unqualified candidates, recruiters can focus their efforts on what they enjoy doing instead: creating connections and building relationships with interested candidates are qualified.

Section 3

The challenges of using a chatbot in recruiting

While the market seems ripe for mainstream adoption, challenges for using a recruitment chatbot exist.

Challenge #1: A lack of standardization in how people text

Because people have different ways of texting (e.g., slang, emojis, short form), it’s extremely difficult to program a chatbot to understand each and every variation.

A chatbot can make a best attempt based on its programming and the knowledge it’s gained from previous interactions or turn the conversation over to a human when it gets stumped.

Challenge #2: A lack of “humanness” in a chatbot

There’s still a debate on how “human” a chatbot should – and could – be.

Most of us can agree with a chatbot shouldn’t be too robotic and cold because this type of “bot-speak” creates a poor user experience. On the other hand, some argue that we don’t need to aspire to create chatbots that can pass as human.

The happy medium most people can agree on is a chatbot that displays some elements of a personality such as humour and using slang.  

Challenge #3: Unknown reaction of candidates to a chatbot

The mainstream adoption of chatbots in other functions such as customer service suggests chatbots have a promising role to play in recruiting.

Although industry surveys suggest candidates feel positive about interacting with a chatbot, no one can really predict what a candidate’s reaction will be when they actually converse with one.

Candidates’ reactions will likely largely depend on how well the chatbot can answer their questions and provide additional information about their job application.

Section 4

How innovative organizations are using recruitment chatbots

Here are some examples of innovative organizations using chatbots in their recruiting.

U.S. Army: SGT STAR

The U.S. Army has a recruitment chatbot called SGT STAR.

Designed to answer FAQs about topics such as basic training, types of jobs available, and salary, candidates can message SGT STAR through the army’s website. SGT STAR has fielded 11 million questions to date, which is the equivalent of 55 Army recruiters.

Georgia State University: Pounce

Georgia State was the first American university to use a chatbot, Pounce, named after their panther mascot.

Via text messaging, newly admitted students can ask questions, receive reminders, and answer surveys. Since its implementation, the university has enjoyed a 4% increase in enrolment and a 21% decrease in summer melt (i.e., the failure of students to complete college enrolment after high school graduation).

Sutherland: Tasha

Sutherland, an IT service provider, built its own chatbot Tasha for candidates during the initial screening stages.

Candidates can interact with Tasha through text message, email or a dialogue box where she answers basic questions, prompts candidates to return to the job application if they fall off, and schedules interviews.

Tasha even provides feedback about the candidate experience. If the candidate does want to abandon the application process, Tasha finds out why and send this information back to the recruiter.

Section 5

A summary of how to use a recruitment chatbot

  1. A recruitment chatbot is software that uses AI technology to understand a person’s messages and know how to respond.
  2. The main benefits of using a chatbot include automating top-of-funnel recruiting tasks such as candidate pre-qualification and interview scheduling to speed up time to hire and improve candidate experience.
  3. The major challenges of using a chatbot in recruiting include the lack of standardization in texting, how “human” a chatbot should be, and not knowing how candidates will react.
  4. Organizations that are pioneering the use of recruitment chatbots include Georgia State University, the U.S. Army, and Sutherland, an IT service provider.

Recruitment Chatbots:

A How-To Guide For Recruiters & Talent Acquisition Professionals

Remember to bookmark this post and keep it as a resource to answer all of your chatbot questions!

Looking for a chatbot solution? Try our chatbot for recruiting!