Hand holding a phone an interacting with a chatbot with a laptop in the background.
Image: © anyaberkut/Stock.adobe.com

Chatbots: A recruiter’s best friend or a looming rival?

3 Dec 2019

Vinita Venkatesh, vice-president of product marketing at Mya, discusses how AI and chatbots could transform recruitment for the better.

Advances in technology are rapidly reshaping our ways of working, with new ways to do our jobs, communicate and get paid. But another one of the areas impacted is recruitment – and whether it’s with AI or new organisational tools, the business of hiring is predicted to be transformed in the future.

What does this mean for some of the main challenges in the recruitment industry? And will new tech help HR professionals overcome them or create yet more roadblocks?

One of the biggest obstacles in the industry today is identifying and securing the best talent for the job. In the US, for example, unemployment rates are currently sitting at just 3.7pc. But almost half of employers say filling a job today takes longer than it did in the past. As filling positions can be challenging and expensive, most employers are looking for a process that is quick, efficient and cost-effective.

Vinita Venkatesh, vice-president of product marketing at AI-based recruitment software company Mya, believes that AI can help “lessen the load” on recruiters, opening the door for company-wide success. And the best way forward? In Venkatesh’s opinion, it’s recognising the value of chatbots.

‘Simply installing a recruiting chatbot and expecting it to solve all of your hiring problems is unrealistic’

Chatbots can help to address inefficiencies in the hiring process, she said, including conversational AI having the capacity to build a rapport between employers and candidates, and taking up administrative tasks such as coordinating interview schedules and filtering through candidates to narrow the search before moving forward.

We spoke with Venkatesh to learn more.

A professional woman is smiling into the camera against an out-of-focus background.

Vinita Venkatesh, vice-president of product marketing at Mya. Image: Mya

What are the current gaps in recruitment that impede the process for companies?

In the area of hiring specifically, employers with manual and multi-step recruitment processes tend to have a weak brand or unevenly applied core principles and will often fail to attract the right mix of talent.

Companies without the ability to provide transparency and instant communication will leave candidates in the dark – or ‘ghosted’ – on their status after applying to a position. This is typically a result of recruiting and hiring staff finding their plates so full, that ghosting a candidate is inevitable and, in fact, necessary to keep up with workflow demand.

How can AI help fill those gaps?

From the very first interaction, AI can be implemented such that every candidate touchpoint reflects a company’s values through experience, language, communication and follow-up.

To counter ghosting, companies can use AI to automate engagement and communication and as many repetitive tasks as possible. This can help to free up time for recruiters to focus on the human element of recruiting, building relationships, and finding the correct position for truly interested and qualified applicants.

Even in initial conversations, AI can help build trust and confidence with candidates and, in time, vastly improve brand reputation.

Should people in HR be worried about their jobs being ‘stolen’ by AI and chatbots?

HR should be welcoming AI and bots into its daily workflow. Contrary to some beliefs, chatbots are incapable of replacing recruiters and instead augment their roles by offsetting repetitive and mundane tasks that can be automated.

Freeing up capacity from these tasks will inevitably change the roles some recruiters take on today, since AI will free up time to make recruiters more effective at other areas of their job. Recruiters specifically will have more time to build relationships with candidates while a conversational AI bot handles asking preliminary questions and scheduling interviews.

Do you have any specific examples of AI being implemented into the recruitment process in a company, and if it has helped?

As the world’s leading beauty company, L’Oréal receives about 1m applicants each year for roughly 15,000 new positions. Recruiters struggled with the high volume of applications, tedious workflows and lack of candidate diversity. Interested candidates were left without ever receiving a reply from the company, and the company suffered a lack of visibility into the hiring process to understand how many qualified applications were getting delayed responses due to limited bandwidth.

Executives wanted to create a candidate experience that matched the experience their consumers enjoy, and looked for an AI solution to fill that gap.

Since implementing a conversational AI recruiting solution, L’Oréal enjoys improved candidate satisfaction, increased diversity of hires, and allows recruiters to focus their time on strategic company initiatives. The recruiting chatbot automates the initial process, scrutinising candidates and segregating them into different job categories, freeing up recruiters to improve the overall candidate experience.

For one internship programme, where 12,000 people applied for about 80 positions, L’Oréal recruiters saved 200 hours of time while hiring the most diverse group to date.

Do you have any advice for companies considering incorporating AI or chatbots into their hiring processes?

When done right, AI is capable of delivering significant impact to a company’s recruitment experience and processes. But simply installing a recruiting chatbot and expecting it to solve all of your hiring problems is unrealistic.

For a bot to succeed, a lot of consideration must be given to how it will be used, what purpose it will serve, the specific problem it should solve and understanding where a hurried implementation can go wrong. Companies should make sure to have a clear plan before rolling out an AI solution to ensure it can actually help achieve the goals in mind.

There are many AI solutions to the many gaps companies often face in recruiting, and the AI market is only getting more crowded.

Working with a partner that understands how your company works, takes the time to be a valued partner and one that reflects your company’s brand values is as important as having your team understand that AI technology is relatively nascent, will continue to grow, and that partnering with the right vendor for your company can help truly make an impact on your business.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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