Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing-based (NLP) recruitment are one of the most impactful trends in HR. A recent report by HBS and Accenture shows that 99% of Fortune 500 companies have automated some part of their hiring process.
Recruitment chatbots are at the forefront of this trend, and for a good reason—the technology is relatively easy to implement, user-friendly and shows excellent results.
However, like with all AI-powered software, recruiters must address specific serious concerns to ensure that it works for your company, rather than against it.
Here’s everything you need to know to get started with recruitment chatbots in hiring.
What are Recruitment Chatbots and What Can they Do?
A chatbot is a software that uses AI and NLP software to conduct online conversations with humans. The conversational interface will usually look like an instant messenger, allowing the human to type in comments, queries, and answers to which the software can respond.
A recruitment chatbot, in particular, is a chatbot that interacts with job-seekers during the hiring process to carry out various tasks that would otherwise be dealt with by an employee. Here are just a few things these practical applications can do:
Answering queries from (potential) candidates: These can range from simple tasks like telling the candidate when their interview is scheduled or more complex ones like explaining precisely what a role will entail.
Screening candidates: A recruitment chatbot can ask candidates questions about their experience, education and even more subjective matters like personality. This can be an incredibly efficient and accurate way to rank candidates combined with CV parsing software.
Scheduling interviews: A recruitment chatbot can assign interview slots to candidates based on their availability and that of the interviewer.
Accelerating and simplifying onboarding: Onboarding a new employee can be a tedious and drawn-out process, but recruitment chatbots can smoothen it by providing your new employee with guidance on any documents they need to fill and benefits they will receive as an employee and much more.
Recruitment chatbots are most commonly found on a company’s website, but you can also use them to communicate with applicants through instant messaging apps like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger.
Why Should You Use Chatbots for Recruiting?
The two most essential ways recruitment chatbots can improve the hiring process are:
- By making it more convenient
- Increasing trust.
Recruitment chatbots allow you to outsource most of the small, repetitive, yet essential and time-consuming tasks that constitute the recruiting process.
Also, candidates often apply to jobs outside regular working hours. Communicating with them via chatbots instead of human employees ensures that they get the answers to any urgent queries immediately, whether it’s midnight or midday.
A 2020 survey showed that the highest engagement with chatbots on career sites occurred beyond traditional 9 AM to 5 PM business hours. This underlines exactly how important chatbots are for this kind of communication.
And, of course, a recruitment chatbot, in contrast to a human employee, can talk to a huge number of candidates at once without compromising on accuracy.
But perhaps more important is the fact that implementing chatbots and other AI and NLP-powered tools in recruiting can make the process much more transparent.
For example, using chatbots to screen and rank candidates can remove human bias from the process and go a long way toward eliminating sexism and other kinds of discrimination in hiring. If a candidate’s primary point of contact with an employer was a chatbot, they could potentially go all the way to the onboarding stage without revealing their race, gender or other personal details to a human recruiter. Or, if the entire hiring process was not automated, the chatbot could withhold this information (which would be shared by the candidate through their CV, identifying documents, etc.) from the recruiter until the in-person or video interview stage.
Multilingual chatbots can also communicate with applicants in their most comfortable language.
Challenges With Recruiting Chatbots
Like every AI tool, recruitment chatbots also come with their set of challenges:
1. The Empathy Barrier
Recruitment chatbots can answer fact-based, objective questions quickly and accurately, but they still have trouble understanding human emotions and the nuances of a candidate’s mood and emotional status.
As a result, they may not be able to respond to emotionally-loaded questions or statements. They would also be unable to judge a candidate’s soft skills, such as communication, intelligence, etc.
2. The Communication Gap
Multilingual recruitment chatbots can eliminate one set of language barriers, but they put up another one. Most of us, mainly on instant messaging-style platforms, use slang, abbreviations and informal language. A chatbot can have trouble understanding and accurately interpreting the meaning of these variations and nuances of language.
3. Limitations of Chatbot UIs
Recruitment chatbots are helpful as a communication channel because of their ease and speed of use. However, their IM-style interface may not be well suited to all kinds of communication. For instance, sending longer answers to questions or large files via email would be more appropriate.
4. Inappropriate algorithms or data
While a well-programmed recruitment chatbot will be more unbiased than any human, human bias must first be eliminated from the algorithms used to programme it and its data feeds.
For instance, Amazon attempted to use candidate screening AI in its recruiting to make data-driven hiring decisions. However, the information initially provided to train it was historical recruitment data where 60% of employees were males.
As a result, the software became biased against female candidates, and the project had to be shut down.
To make the most of recruitment chatbots, these issues must be addressed. Fortunately, one of the most effective ways to do this is to feed the chatbot more data, and that’s something no HR department has any shortage of. In addition, the chatbot can also collect data from the candidates who use it, allowing it to get better and better with time.
The Human Touch: Can Recruitment Chatbots Replace it?
Addressing the question raised in this post: can recruitment chatbots REPLACE the human touch?
The answer is NO!
Recruitment chatbots, or any other software, cannot ever replace humans in hiring and HR. Their lack of true empathy, language barriers, and reliance on fixed algorithms means that a human employee will need to step in whenever there is a need to persuade, innovate, or make certain kinds of decisions.
Moreover, recruitment chatbots may not be able to handle complex, subjective tasks like certain kinds of data interpretation. For instance, a chatbot can ask for feedback on the hiring process. But only a human will be able to analyse this feedback and make changes based on it.
Keeping these considerations in mind, companies across industries have begun to use recruitment chatbots in their recruitment process and met with great success.
Case Study: Marriott International
Marriott International, the popular international hospitality chain, is one of the firms that successfully used recruitment chatbots to streamline its processes.
The company’s recruitment chatbot, MC, interacts with job-seekers through Facebook Messenger and guides them through the process of beginning a career at Marriott.
The bot answers FAQs about jobs and the company’s history and culture. It also tells candidates about open positions they may be suited to based on location and field and their fit for the 30 different brands under Marriott.
Finally, it asks candidates a set of 20 questions to do all of this. However, the company is looking into using even more advanced AI to simplify further and speed up finding the perfect job for a candidate.
A recruitment chatbot, particularly one created with today’s AI and NLP technologies, can never fully and effectively replace a human in the recruitment process. Instead, it should be thought of as a comprehensive and cost-effective assistant that can still vastly improve your company’s online hiring strategy.
If you’d like to know more about how AI and NLP-based software can improve hiring through intelligent resume parsing, automated interviews and much more, check out our article on NLP and the future of hiring in India.
Has your organisation begun to use recruitment chatbots yet? Tell us what your experience with this new technology has been like below.