July 19, 2017   view past issues

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Chatbots Raise the Level of Conversation

Is your company thinking about investing in a recruiting chatbot? If so, remember this: all chatbots are not created equal. The trick to maximizing the return on your investment is to get the bot that best fits within your budget while upgrading your candidate experience.

Chatbots are already familiar features in the online commercial marketplace. They help us find that perfect pair of running shoes, the best vacation package, a great car deal and even the right person to date. In fact, within the next three years, the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse, at least that’s Gartner’s prediction.

According to Dr. John Sullivan, chatbots have been used in recruiting for over decade, but as all the discussion in the blogosphere makes clear, they are just now coming into vogue among employers. He describes the current generation of these applications as “Q&A chatbots” – bots with capabilities limited to answering candidate questions in a personalized and conversational way.

That limitation, notwithstanding, chatbots create more informed candidates, which in turn provides employers with a number of benefits:
• Higher quality applicants – top performers typically have more questions and require more information before they are willing to apply, so addressing that need increases their propensity to apply.
• Fewer unqualified applicants – more information enables (and encourages) candidates to determine when an opening or employer isn’t a good fit for them, so giving them that insight helps avoid wasting both their and recruiters’ time.
• Better candidate experience – almost eight-out-of-ten candidates say job postings don’t provide enough information, so solving that problem enhances their perception of how they are treated in the recruiting process.

It won’t be long – if it hasn’t happened already – before you can buy a chatbot in a box. In truth, however, these bots have at least three levels of sophistication, so it’s important to recognize the differences and acquire the capability that best suits your organization.

Level 1: A more engaging version of the static FAQ page on your corporate career site.

These bots answer the questions you typically receive from candidates. They lack a machine learning capability so cannot answer questions that fall outside that narrow scope, but do provide a more interactive experience that can help candidates feel as if the company is treating them as valued customers rather than just another job seeker.

Level 2: Human assisted chatbots.

Given the variability in human information needs, there’s a high probability that at least some candidates will ask a question that goes beyond a Level 1 chatbot’s ability to answer. At that point, a company has two options: ignore the question and leave the candidate hanging or provide a way to connect with a human recruiter. For example, the chatbot offers an “escape hatch” when a candidate’s inquiry draws a blank. It’s a labor-intensive backstop, however, and given the staffing limitations on most recruiting teams, the capability is probably only appropriate for critical openings and/or talent requirements.

Level 3: A smart Q&A chatbot which learns from its interactions with candidates.

Unlike the relatively limited question set for buying a pair of boots, “buying” into a new employer can generate an almost limitless range of questions. Every candidate has their own unique set of career goals, expectations, circumstances and experience, so it’s impossible to program every possible question and answer in advance. Chatbots that can learn, however, have the ability to extrapolate from previous candidate interactions to devise answers to questions they haven’t seen before. It’s not “artificial intelligence,” but it is a kind of growing knowledge base that can make the chatbot experience feel even more personal and helpful.

Chatbots will soon be a common fixture in recruiting processes, but given the variability in their capabilities (and those of their developers), leveraging the technology to its best advantage requires smart consumer behavior by employers. Practice that, and you can redefine your job seeker FAQs as Forgotten And Quashed.

TAtech® Insights and the Peter Weddle’s Technacious Recruiter are brought to you by TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions.

Mark Your Calendars! TAtech’s 2017 events are open to corporate, staffing firm and RPO recruiters and include:
• September 27-29, 2017 Denver: The TAtech Fall Congress & Deal Center, with The World Job Board Forum and the 2017 ReSI Awards Gala.
• March, 2018 in Dublin TAtechEurope, The TAtech Industry Congress in Europe – the premier event for recruitment technology thought & business leaders worldwide.
• April, 2018 in Las Vegas: The TAtech Spring Congress & Deal Center. See the 2017 conference details here.
• June, 2018: The TAtech Leadership Summit on Programmatic Ad Buying. See the 2017 conference details here.