Are chatbots the answer to the candidate experience challenge?

Today, the sheer volume of endeavour involved in talent acquisition can overwhelm many organisations and recruiters. Whilst advancements in technology have certainly helped and we’ve become quicker and more efficient at finding and handling candidates; these advancements haven’t guaranteed success in one of the most important areas of today’s war for talent – the candidate experience.
Step forward artificial intelligence (AI) and specifically the chatbot. By utilising its human communication abilities, recruiters competing for talent can raise candidate communicate and engagement standards without adding extra burdens.

So what is a chatbot?
They have already being predicted as a replacement for apps; indeed Microsoft chief Satya Nadella has gone as far to say “Bots are the new apps!” Put simply, a chatbot is AI software that can have intelligent conversations, for example, it can ask candidates questions or even answer their questions.
It can be seen as the ‘human face’ of AI and no it won’t replace humans. In fact, chatbots will make recruiters lives easier, ultimately speed up the recruitment process and allow human skills to be utilised for more strategic and crucial functions within the recruitment process.
The chatbot can deal with the more administrative/process repetitive tasks and can become the key and primary communicator with candidates, especially in the early stages of recruiting. Most importantly, a chatbot can maintain the levels of communication required when trying to offer the best candidate experience possible.
You might be surprised to know that chatbots are not an altogether new phenomenon. The aftermath of the 9/11 attacks saw a 40% increase in traffic to the live chatrooms of the US Army’s recruiting website; amounting to a staffing cost of approximately $4 million a year. The answer for the US Government in 2006 was to utilise technology developed by the FBI and CIA a decade prior and Sgt Star, the US Army’s virtual recruitment chatbot soldier, was born. Today Sgt Star happens to be one of the most recognisable soldiers in America, currently does the work of 55 human recruiters and has answered 10.5 million questions in 2.8 million chat sessions.
This means on average, Sgt Star is engaging with more than 1,550 potential candidates each day, creating a great candidate experience.

So how can chatbots help the recruitment industry?

  • They can improve the candidate experience – chatbots can talk and engage with large numbers of candidates, answering any questions presented. This allows recruiters to focus their time on more strategic tasks whilst the chatbot handles the pre-screening. The time between the candidate submitting their CV and being contacted by the recruiter can also be greatly reduced and during the application process a chatbot can maintain contact and provide a great candidate experience.
  • They save everyone’s time – a lot of a recruiters time can be spent on the lengthy process of qualifying candidates’ skills, experience and qualifications. A chatbot can eliminate unsuitable candidates and provide the recruiter with a list of pre-qualified candidates.
  • They retain information – not only do they maintain a positive relationship with the candidate they provide recorded information to the recruiter when they do meet the candidate. They don’t forget things and they never forget to write anything down.
  • They manage diaries – they allow recruiters to delegate the daily admin of setting up calls, meetings and interviews.
  • They answer all the questions – all the FAQs that get asked over and over can be answered through the simplest of chatbot, again saving recruiters valuable time.
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