How chatbots can help recruiters boost candidate engagement

Artificial intelligence (AI) is gaining ground in the recruitment industry. For recruiters, the integration of automation and machine learning into all areas of their business can enhance their client and candidate engagement processes. In fact, Bullhorn’s latest survey shows that 86% of recruiters believe that firms must embrace digital transformation to remain competitive. A further 77% of respondents said they already have at least some understanding of machine learning and AI – even if they are not yet using it in their day-to-day activities.

One example of AI in action in recruitment firms is chatbots: they are programmed to recognise and respond to certain natural language phrases and questions, as well as gather information and record details for recruiters to pick up on later. In other words, they serve a very specific purpose: to improve engagement with candidates.

Over time, chatbots improve their answers by learning from commonly asked questions. However, while chatbots have been described as artificially intelligent, this is not necessarily true as many can’t pass for a human without detection. What they are, however, is highly useful – and recruiters stand to benefit hugely from their assistance.

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How can chatbots help recruiters?

A human recruiter, likely to be juggling various tasks, can’t always give their full attention to every single potential candidate. Chatbots can handle the introductory stage. They can be used to automate the top of funnel interactions, ensuring that each candidate gets timely, personalised responses at each stage of the recruitment process.

RoboRecruiter, for example, is an up-and-coming chatbot technology that integrates with SMS, as well as social apps like Facebook Messenger and WeChat. This allows recruiters to initiate conversations with candidates via multiple channels – but not get swamped with replies. The chatbot will sort through the most suitable responses for the recruiter to pick up on and proceed with.

Chatbots are not a replacement for one-to-one communication with recruiters. They simply help to streamline some of the initial interactions. This improves the screening process by ruling out unsuitable or unqualified candidates before a recruiter even gets involved.

The business benefits of this are significant: when general enquiries are dealt with by chatbots, when prospective hires are pre-screened, and when admin like setting up meetings or interviews is taken care of, recruiters can focus on building relationships with existing clients and candidates.

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Enhancing the candidate experience

Another important reason why chatbots help recruiters is that they can enhance the candidate experience. For example, they can recognise when a CV or other request has been submitted and send a relevant response. To make it feel less automated and more ‘real’; an auto-delay can be programmed into the response so that it isn’t triggered immediately.

Recruiters spend a large proportion of their time responding to the same questions. Chatbots can manage this repetitive work and automatically answer a candidate who asks any of the more frequently asked questions. Mya is a good example. This chatbot is able to engage with applicants using open-ended questions that make it feel like a real, human-to-human conversation. Mya is a great help all along the recruitment process; it can re-engage passive candidates, guide interested candidates from application to interview, and collect all the necessary candidate information, such as qualifications and experience – all the while keeping candidates positively engaged and responsive.

Chatbots can also collect important screening information about a candidate such as their CV, past roles, and current job. This enables them to distinguish between best suited and less well-suited candidates for a specific role and help speed up the shortlisting process.

The less well-suited candidates could potentially be placed into other roles – no longer rejecting talented applicants but instead moving them in the right direction. By ranking candidates based on programmed metrics such as qualifications and experience, chatbots can give recruiters comprehensive profiles for review.

One of the biggest criticisms of the candidate experience is the on-boarding process. Chatbots can guide candidates through the recruitment process, keeping them on track and involved every step of the way. This includes automatically setting up meetings and sending reminders, checking in with new starters, detecting positive responses, and alerting recruiters to negative ones so they can respond accordingly.

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Not bad for a bot

As impressive as chatbots are, they do have their limitations. One of the most obvious ones, but worth pointing out nonetheless, is that chatbots are not human and therefore cannot display empathy. In situations that involve sensitive issues, a chatbot cannot be completely trusted to engage with a candidate in the most appropriate way.

What’s more, chatbots are limited to understanding language that they have been programmed to react to, based on certain interactions. Things like abbreviated text or colloquialisms might confuse them, requiring assistance and input from humans. They are reactive assistants and can’t be depended on to take a proactive approach to problem-solving.

Given the high volume of emails, calls, messages, pings, and alerts that recruiters have to try and stay on top of, chatbots make good personal assistants. They are nowhere near to replicating human capabilities beyond administrative responsiveness – but this in and of itself is already helping many humans, including recruiters, do better business.

Written by Peter Linas, EVP of Corporate Development and International, Bullhorn
Written by Peter Linas, EVP of Corporate Development and International, Bullhorn

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