Gartner predicted that by 2022, 70% of customer interactions will involve emerging technologies such as machine learning (ML) applications, chatbots and mobile messaging, up from 15% in 2018. Today, we sit in the wake of the tsunami-like buzz generated by OpenAI’s brainchild, ChatGPT-3, which reached 1 mil users just a week after launching. It seems that Gartner was correct, the use of more intelligent chatbots is here to stay.
As the makers and managers of our own AI chatbot, Emi, we felt it was timely to talk about our sliver of this world–conversational AI for recruitment.
The evolution of chatbots
Chatbot technology has improved vastly since the introduction of the first chatterbot program, ELIZA, was introduced in 1966. While each improved technology that came after ELIZA, like A.L.I.C.E., had notable changes, you can think about chatbot tech in two categories: 1) Pre-machine learning, logic-based models: which are bots like ELIZA that were pre-programmed with responses to specific prompts and 2) machine-learning, language-based models: which started being used in the ’90s and includes more sophisticated programs like Amazon’s Alexa and ChatGPT-3.
It’s important to note that the tech found in the latter category, language learning machines or LLMs, is only as powerful as it is programmed and trained to be. There is a large spectrum across all LLM bots because of the variations in programming and because of the variations of inputs.
Now, chatbots come in all shapes and sizes. For example, e-commerce bots that are commonly seen on retail websites, support bots can help customers sift through FAQs and have their questions answered 24/7, and sales bots can help capture web leads immediately without needing human intervention. In the same way, there are recruitment chatbots, which are bots specifically designed to help streamline the recruitment process. This can mean simply receiving candidates’ resumes and sending it to the hiring manager, or it can go much further by supporting the onboarding process.
What is a frontline recruitment chatbot?
So, what is the difference between recruitment chatbots and just your run-of-the-mill, iRobot-like web bot? Well, like other types of chatbots (e.g. e-commerce, support, subscription), recruitment chatbots are made uniquely for the purpose of recruiting talent. And–in our case–Emi, our platform’s chatbot, is made specifically for frontline recruitment teams and frontline talent.
Emi utilizes machine learning to inform AI-powered interactions, like ChatGPT-3. However, our technology is customized for the use case of frontline recruitment.
One unique element of recruiting frontline workers is that the talent is often unfamiliar or uncomfortable with creating or sharing a formal resume. Our chatbot allows frontline candidates to bypass the need for a resume by simply answering automated questions. The information gathered from these answers is then stored in a secure candidate profile.
Best practices for recruitment chatbots
Whether you are launching your first recruitment chatbot as an organization or you are trying to determine how you would go about doing so, it’s important to consider the following best practices.
1. Share what the company does and what opportunities are available
Just like any good recruiter should, recruitment chatbots should sell your organization to the candidate, not just passively take their information. Utilize the chatbot as a conduit for your brand and employer. Keep in mind that, just like any message or chat interaction, brevity is key. Make sure your company’s pitch to applicants is concise and compelling.
2. Provide a pay range and any other benefits clearly
It’s helpful to provide the individuals who are applying to open positions the visibility of what pay they should expect. Holding this information close to the chest or saving it until the end of the chat can lead to frustrated applicants and a dry candidate pool. Benefits like immediate pay or flexible scheduling may be the difference between you and another competing employer. We recommend providing as much clarity in the chat conversation to 1) keep candidates interested 2) disqualify individuals who have other expectations.
3. Personalize communication based on location
An individual’s comfort level with the chatbot plays a huge role in if they complete or abandon an application. So, it’s important to utilize geo-targeting to utilize the language, vernacular, and tone that each individual is most familiar with.
For organizations that have hundreds or even thousands of locations throughout the world, it’s also important to customize the job information, as each location may have different hours, pay ranges, or job responsibilities.
4. Adjust for potential biases
It’s our belief here at Emi that automated recruitment should allow more frontline workers access to better opportunities. To make this possible, it’s essential that information that could lead to a bias is removed from the application process. For example, if a chatbot asks candidates about their age, race, or gender, you could potentially discriminate against certain criteria. Instead, focus on asking questions that are directly related to the job and the candidate's qualifications.
5. Define what is essential information
While you may want to get as much information as possible from each candidate, you must also consider how much information the individual is willing to share. For example, you may want to know how long each applicant was employed by each of their employers, but you could choose to just ask about the length of employment in their most recent role and discuss the rest on a screening call. It comes down to determining what information is essential to evaluating applicants before the next step of the hiring process.
Setting your chatbot up for success
Adding conversational AI to your recruitment efforts can be a significant shift for your organization, even if it already utilizes other advanced HR technologies. Make sure you define what this tech will be to your organization and, equally as important, what it will not be.
For example, make sure it’s clear what stages of the recruitment process you plan to utilize the chatbot for.
Let’s say that you are experiencing high application abandonment rates. You may want to streamline the application process by replacing a long form with a conversational chatbot. Or, perhaps, your team spends a lot of time chasing down candidates to schedule interviews, you could utilize a chatbot to communicate with the applicant at the times that are most convenient for them.
But, while these bots are powerful, it is not a “set it and forget it” technology. And, as an extension of your brand, it shouldn’t be. Once launched, chatbots need to be monitored to begin a cycle of continuous improvement. We’ve found that even small adjustments can make a tremendous difference in how effective chatbots can be in moving candidates to act.
The potential in chatbots
As we’ve seen in the last three months, chatbots and conversational AI tools are changing the landscape of business. While it can seem like an intimidating task, utilizing these best practices will help keep you and your team grounded in the end goals: improving candidate experiences and streamlining the hiring process.
For more information about adopting a recruitment chatbot in your organization, reach out to an expert at Emi here.