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How chatbot technology can transform prospects for recruiters and candidates

By Marcus Lambert

This year, Tech behemoths Microsoft and Facebook famously unveiled significant investment into chatbots, and very quickly, a range of entirely new possibilities became apparent.

Welcome to the age of simplified, frictionless digital gratification. A place in time where we happily exist online, tuned out of everything we dislike, while surrounded by everything that we love – our very own personalised world.

Already, most people reading this will be aware of – if not yet familiar with – digital assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Mircosoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s… Google. Well, this is only the start.

Despite initial teething problems, the chatbot, as these interactive helpers are known – and the artificial intelligence underpinning them, has evolved exponentially over the last few years. We are beginning to witness far more potential from this technology than the enhanced online shopping experiences of recent times.

Across the globe, HR departments already automate critical processes, but, rather than just talking with users, ask yourself what’s to stop a chatbot from hiring them too? Before you nay-say, stick with me for a moment. The entire recruitment process: from posting an ad, to receiving a cover letter, to the interview itself is essentially a conversation. Designed for exactly this process, chatbots are tailor-made to manage the end-to-end hiring process.

Currently, the biggest recruitment pain point is the inability to see past résumés that fail to illustrate candidate capabilities and skill sets. Thanks to recent advances in AI and machine learning, bots that conduct candidate conversations can also follow up with relevant questions, timed and targeted to the role.

Back in July, FirstJob launched the Mya recruitment chatbot, claiming it would automate 75% of the recruitment process through a combination of AI and natural language processing.

Whilst bots may lack the human touch, they also fail to exaggerate the opportunities that surround a position, focusing instead on aligning them with a candidate’s expectations. Bots have no issue cutting through the BS that too often frustrates individuals – on both sides of the hiring process. In fact, an army of ‘cognitive’ recruiting chatbots, engaging candidates throughout the entire application process is not something for the future; it’s already here.

Essentially, every organisation is looking for people who slot perfectly into their existing team or culture. As developments such as Mya accelerate, it can only be a matter of time before businesses create AI avatars that promote the company values and ethos. Indeed, as Omobono’s recent blog ‘The Faces of Things to Come’ reveals, humans already have a far more complex and more accepting relationship with artificial life-forms than any of us might have believed. Carefully framed, chatbots might not only win trust, they may also engage and evaluate candidates more efficiently and fairly than the current system.

AI recruiter Tara has the ability to analyse over a hundred data points on each candidate and recruit the most qualified freelance software developers for roles or coding tasks, by quantifying their skills. Rather than making individual agents redundant, this removes traditional time stealers; allowing them to focus on closing deals or finalising contracts. However, this technology is not only for recruiters. There are bots available for candidates too.

Esther Crawford was looking for an alternative, to resumes and LinkedIn profiles, littered with buzzwords but offered little value to any potential employer. So, she designed her own own EstherBot to converse with recruiters online, allowing them to know the person behind the resume rather than another two pages of generic business waffle.

“Imagine if LinkedIn introduced bots that were fun — providing questions and offering answers. With the introduction of creative bots, LinkedIn could become as good as OK Cupid. Instead of algorithmically connecting people for dates they could connect them to uniquely relevant opportunities.” – Esther Crawford

Chatbot Technology is enabling candidates to communicate how they would bring value to an organisation, while sharing their unique voice, story, and experience. Crawford’s bot creation introduced her to Facebook, Microsoft, and Google, a highly unlikely outcome if she’d followed a more traditional route to engagement.

The bottom line is that chatbots already provide value to both recruiters and candidates. Research shows we are not as adverse to AI as the movies would make us believe. Maybe, this technology could open up new opportunities for you or your business? Do you think LinkedIn would benefit by allowing its users to create their own bots? Let me know your thoughts.

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