Recruitment Chatbots are revolutionizing HR

August 30th, 2019
Tracey Parsons
Recruitment Chatbot

We Compare the Solutions that Are Transforming Hiring with AI

I have seen first-hand how automation, AI, and recruitment chatbots completely upend and transform the HR industry and the candidate experience. These tips and insights come from my 20+ years in the business and can help you select the ideal chatbot solution.

In this article:

What Is a Recruitment Chatbot?

A recruitment chatbot is an assistant powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that can assist with learned duties, allowing recruiters more time to focus on strategic, human-touch responsibilities. Recruitment chatbots can be incorporated through email, SMS text, social media solutions, and other messaging applications.

Repetitive actions plague many of the most time-consuming recruitment tasks eating up a recruiter's valuable time. Recruiters spend more than 80 percent of their time on low value-add activities. These, productivity issues, along with today's tight labor market, drives many organizations to seek alternatives to traditional, manual hiring practices. With chatbots readily available, quickly improving business efficiency and productivity, they are the perfect assistant for the busy recruiter. In fact, Gartner, Inc. predicts that 25 percent of digital workers will use a virtual employee assistant (VEA) daily.

The Hirevue Hiring Assistant chatbot engages with applicants and performs tasks on behalf of the recruiter. Pre-screening, qualifying, scheduling interviews, and answering candidate questions (FAQs) are just a few of the jobs a chatbot can take off the recruiter's plate.

Benefits of Chatbots in Recruitment

Recruiters and candidates alike benefit from chatbots (also known as conversational agents or virtual recruiting assistants). Consider daily life as a consumer—we shop, bank, and interact online. While navigating our favorite websites, we often have questions or require service. How many times does a chatbot appear, ready to answer your question or to anticipate your needs?

If you're like me, the answer is multiple times each day. Why should recruiting be any different? Candidates are familiar and comfortable with chatbots. They expect chatbots to appear! Automated recruiting allows companies to engage with 100 percent of candidates. The chatbots ability to interact with candidates, schedule interviews, and answer questions improves ongoing communication, satisfies applicants, and relieves the recruiter of these monotonous tasks.

Automate recruiting process

Additional benefits of using chatbots throughout the recruitment process include:

  • Improving candidate experience and satisfaction
  • Reducing administrative and repetitive tasks
  • Increasing time spent on strategic, human-touch activities
  • Streamlining recruiter's job
  • Reducing the time-to-hire
  • Optimizing recruiting activities
  • Reducing recruitment costs
  • Improving processes
  • Strengthening competitive position
  • Developing high-quality candidate relationships
  • Identifying problematic processes or bottlenecks
  • Reducing bias in hiring
  • Demonstrating a modern and engaging company culture
  • Finding and maintaining the most suitable employees
  • Experiencing a quick and tangible return-on-investment (ROI)

Challenges of Using Chatbots in Recruitment

Chatbots provide enormous opportunities, but as with any impactful technology, challenges exist. Some common problems include complicated setup, language barriers, lack of human empathy, volatile interaction, and the inability to make intelligent decisions always. These issues aren't a surprise nor a reason not to use chatbots. Careful implementation and thoughtful application are essential to overcoming these challenges. Understanding that chatbots can partner with human recruiters. However, chatbots are not human and cannot always decipher slang vs. formal language, gauge emotions, make important decisions, or handle unpredictable behavior.

Examples of How Companies Are Using Chatbots for Recruitment

Visit almost any well-known brand's website (retail, restaurant, healthcare, telecommunications, consulting, start-ups, and financial), and you will have the opportunity to interact with a chatbot. The interaction may be with a text-based or website chatbot that helps you apply for a job immediately, schedule and confirm an interview appointment, and answer general questions. In some cases, such as job fairs, this real-time interaction allows for onsite hiring. Facebook chatbots enable candidate engagement within the social media platform. You can even use them to send a text message about job alerts and branded marketing to your established candidate pool. The opportunities for how chatbots can help empower recruiters are endless.

Here are some examples of organizations using chatbots to transform recruiting:

  • Maggiano's Little Italy: Maggiano's operates 51 locations across 22 states. The company's high-volume hiring needs and the challenges associated with talent attraction led Maggiano's to embrace AI recruiting software. The recruiting team has experienced enormous benefits from using chatbots in various recruiting activities, leaving them more time to focus on value-add activities.
  • G4S: With over 546,000 employees on six continents, and 25,000 private security new hires annually, the world's third-largest private employer struggles to staff their positions and develop employees' careers. They needed a streamlined recruitment process that engages and enhances communication, qualifies, and ensures proper information collection. G4S has experienced a 10 percent increase in applicant flow, a 25% improvement in applicant conversions, and reduced sourcing costs after implementing an AI-driven chatbot.
  • Randstad: Randstad has experienced a confluence of factors that impacts talent acquisition – new privacy laws and finding new candidates in the tight labor market has restricted their ability to match suitable people with jobs at scale. The team has modernized email outreach and candidate engagement with chatbot technology. Within less than four weeks after implementation, 1.6 million candidates were contacted, uncovering 12,500 new active job seekers.  

Emerging Best Practices for Implementing Recruitment Chatbots

Numerous organizations, large and small, have made recruitment chatbots part of their daily business activities. Fusing the technology with their processes is not always smooth, but when done right, it can tap into enormous benefits, including an increased adoption rate. Many recruiting experts suggest that an organization understand the systems they will be integrating, designate a time for AI learning to occur, carefully consider chatbot questions, and understand that chatbots will not replace humans in the recruitment process. Once implemented, use metrics to gain insight into the quality of applicants, chat engagement, conversion rates, and candidate net promoter score (NPS). Take that information to identify and fix new technology problems quickly.

Quincy Valencia

Quincy Valencia, Vice President of Product Innovation at Alexander Mann Solutions, is an accomplished talent solutions strategist. She says, “The most important consideration when evaluating any new tech in the talent acquisition space is how it will enhance your user experience. If you implement a chatbot, will your candidates be able to get through the application process faster, and with fewer hurdles? Will they have ready access to information that could make them more engaged in the process and interested in your company? Will your recruiters have more time for high-value work, like relationship building, rather than responding to routine questions or other administrative tasks? Be deliberate and honest in your evaluation of why you want a chatbot, and the time you're willing and able to spend getting it right.”

Seidman suggests that organizations carefully plan their screening questions. “We found out the hard way that our screening questions were too basic, and every candidate was getting through the screening, but many were unqualified. We had to tweak the questions to ensure we weren't wasting our recruiter's and candidate's time.”

Elaine Orler

Elaine Orler, CEO and Founder of Talent Function, encourages processes that connect chatbot with human interactions. "If you determine a chatbot will fit well into your recruiting culture as a candidate screening tool, it's important to ensure your recruiting team follows through on the unwritten agreement you make with your candidates. If a candidate interacts with the chatbot and reaches a point where a recruiter needs to step in, it's critical you have the processes and resources in place to provide a human touch. Recruiters should have a clear understanding of expectations and SLAs to respond to candidates promptly. Also, candidates should be provided transparency as to when they can expect a response from their recruiter."

The Best Chatbots for Recruiting

Many HR technology providers seem to offer a chatbot or recruiting assistant as part of their solution. The market is getting so crowded that it is becoming impossible to discern who does what, what's different, and what talent acquisition problems they solve.

What did I find in my research? The six most talked about recruiting assistants on the market today, in alphabetical order are HireVue Hiring Assistant, Ideal, Mya, Olivia, Watson, and Xor. All of these companies offer similar solutions. For example, nearly all of them have screening and scheduling functionality. The only one that doesn't is Watson. They all support a few (or more) languages; however, the bulk of them are using things like Google Translate. The companies that are developing their multi-lingual support to be more localized and colloquial are HireVue Hiring Assistant and Mya.

Lastly, they are all going to tell you that they will reduce your cost per hire, increase your conversions, and save recruiters time. All of that is true. I've seen the numbers.

Orler provides this recruitment chatbot implementation guidance, "When deciding to implement a Chatbot, a company needs first to identify what type of Chatbot they would like. Some chatbots are more conversational in nature and those that are more content based providing links to share information. Ultimately, the chosen Chatbot needs to be in line with your company's culture and way of communicating."

Understanding the Role of a Chatbot in the Recruitment Journey

We've all been to conferences; we've all seen staged demos. There is a delineation in the chatbots based on where the candidate might interact with them in their journey.

The chatbots you've likely seen and thought "ooohhhh and aaahhhhh" at the trade show are those that pop up when you land on the career site. In this instance, the candidate can interact with the recruiting bot to find the right job, add their name to the CRM. And if they find the proper role, start the screening process and schedule an interview. All these tasks occur without human interaction. The bot can generate a lead, convert it into an applicant, and then get that person screened and scheduled. The bots that accomplish these tasks are HireVue Hiring Assistant, Olivia, Watson, and Xor.

A more secret interaction point is when the bot helps the candidate complete the application, screen them, and schedules the interview. It's about having that assistant help the candidate complete the transaction and if they're a fit, get them scheduled for an interview. In this instance, employers can attach the bots to specific jobs to assist the job seeker and the recruiter in attracting suitable candidates on that requisition. Mya, Xor, and Ideal offer bots that focus on this type of interaction.

So, what's the best way to buy an HR chatbot? Like anything in HR tech, first, identify the problem you're trying to solve. The chart below aligns the most frequent issues to the best-suited solutions.

Schedule a demo to explore HireVue Hiring Assistant's recruiting automation chatbot.

Hiring Challenges Where Chatbots Can Help

Problems You May Need to Solve Best Suited Could Get the Job Done
The entire talent acquisition function is wildly inefficient HireVue Hiring Assistant Ideal, Mya, Xor
I do not have enough staff (and never will) to screen the boatloads of people applying Ideal HireVue Hiring Assistant, Ideal, Mya, Olivia, Xor
I have a black hole problem Mya HireVue Hiring Assistant, Ideal
I need to generate leads at the top of the funnel Olivia HireVue Hiring Assistant, Watson, Xor
I'm concerned about bias in our recruiting efforts Watson Mya, Ideal
I don't have enough candidate flow Xor HireVue Hiring Assistant, Ideal, Olivia

Schedule a demo to explore HireVue Hiring Assistant's recruiting automation chatbot.

Vendor Comparison of Recruitment Chatbots

Since these players have similar functionality and solve similar problems, let's get into the subtlety of it all. Here's what makes these offerings unique. 

  • HireVue Hiring Assistant: They have the most robust set of use cases. HireVue Hiring Assistant focuses on improving talent acquisition by automating critical touchpoints throughout the candidate and employee experience. HireVue Hiring Assistant can greet people on your career site, direct people to the right job, and screen and schedule them. The solution also covers the entire candidate and employee experience with a front-end career site chatbot, post-application screening, and scheduling, and can manage the employee experience. They go beyond the candidate transaction. HireVue Hiring Assistant helps keep employees engaged after they're hired by reaching out to new hires, checking in regularly with employees, and even elegantly off-boarding people. They take the "Talent Experience" seriously, not just the candidate experience. Plus, HireVue Hiring Assistant understands emojis ☺.
  • Ideal: Recruiters rarely return to their applicant tracking software (ATS) to find people who may be qualified for current requisitions. Ideal offers "intelligent rediscovery." The solution integrates with the ATS and performs outreach to former candidates, re-qualifying them for existing roles. Ideal is suitable for high-volume hiring organizations interested in streamlining their time to fill positions and re-surfacing former candidates.
  • Mya: Mya has the best conversational, natural language processing (NLP) capabilities of the set that I reviewed. For example, when Mya asked if I could talk about an open job, I said: "Why not?" Which if you think about it is both negative and a question. She knew what it meant. She also seems to understand sentiment and intent. With most of the bots focusing the conversation on yes/no or choose an answer a, b, c, Mya is like texting with a friend - she understands emojis ☺.
  • Olivia: Olivia seems to be the bot that everyone knows. She can fill that top of the funnel with leads while she guides candidates around your website, shares your branded messages, and answers questions about your company. Moreover, when she does get you where you need to go (hopefully the job), she is there to screen and schedule you for an interview.
  • Watson: They've been in the machine learning business for a long time and is a popular solution. The company also claims that one-third of the chatbot category is running off Watson (though, none of the companies listed here are using it). Watson's standout feature is the ability for a person to copy and paste their resume into Watson and receive direction on the jobs that best suit that candidate. The other differentiator is that Watson focuses on eliminating bias.
  • Xor: The company's solution can attract people into your funnel from outside of your CRM and ATS. They use 500 sources from which they will find a candidate to chat with Xor about the job. Xor will screen and schedule this person if they are a fit. Essentially, you can upload your open requisition into this bot, and it will find people to pull into your req, screen, and schedule them.

chatbox compare features

Chatbot Recruiting Statistics

From lower costs to faster time-to-hire and improved candidate experience, automating the recruiting process with a chatbot is beneficial to candidates, recruiting staff, and the company. These statistics demonstrate how AI and NLP are improving the recruiting and hiring processes.

The Future of Chatbot-Based Recruiters

The concern about job loss in today's age of automation and AI is real. What does this mean for recruiters when AI can source candidates, screen applications faster than a human, use data to rank candidates, and answer questions? It means that recruiters and HR departments must find the best way to partner with the technology that augments their capabilities. Human resources will always have some element of "human" as human-touch is necessary for many activities, but humans will play a lesser role in monotonous tasks.

HR team members can spend time planning more creative (and essential) job duties that require human decision making, such as identifying new roles based on organization growth goals, training employees, and mentorship opportunities. It's crucial to remember that technology advancements are going to continue at a breakneck pace. The hiring team must embrace these breakthroughs and continually find the best ways to utilize these innovations as a competitive advantage that can foster company growth. Simultaneously, HR professionals must also focus on identifying more complex, strategic tasks that are not suited for automation.

Investing in Recruitment Chatbots Can Give You More Time and a Competitive Advantage

Recruiters spend too much time on phone calls, emails, job postings, and other repetitive, administrative tasks that chatbots can take off their plate. Automation technology has become a vital part of today's recruitment process, and it's important for companies to embrace how the right tech can give them a competitive edge. Our mission is to make recruiting a delightful and efficient experience for both recruiters and applicants.

Our many AI recruiting case studies show you the variety of companies that have been successful using our end-to-end AI recruitment automation platform.