Recruiting Chatbots: Present & Future

In case you haven’t noticed, recruiting chatbots have become one of the most talked about trends in hiring technology the past few years, alongside text recruiting. And by most accounts I’ve read, many job seekers seem to like interacting with them, at least for specific ‘automation friendly’ recruiting use cases like FAQs and applicant pre-screening.

It is still early in the game for recruitment chatbots, but many vendors in our space are racing to build them (including us). So, it seems likely that they will evolve over time into more sophisticated hiring tools deployed by more and more recruiting teams.

Chatbots Defined:

Recruiting Chatbots are automated conversational interfaces through which candidates can interact with your company/recruiters for job related purposes.

I asked Emissary’s CEO Euan Hayward where he thinks chatbot technology is headed. In a recent call he told me, “A lot more employers will be deploying recruiting chatbots in the coming years, especially for high volume hiring. But, increased penetration depends a lot on the pace of improvement in the underlying technologies like AI and NLP. Progress in those areas will define the quality of the candidate experience, which in turn dictates which use cases will be viable for employers. Does the bot help a candidate get information more easily? Does it allow them to complete required steps more easily than doing it by other means? Value to the candidate/employee will directly dictate the how much benefit recruiting and HR can extract from the automation and scaling qualities that chatbots offer”

Since recruiting chatbots are still in their nascent stages, there can be challenges with deploying them. Unless your chosen vendor onboards you carefully, setup can be an issue because many chatbots must be customized to deliver a high quality candidate experience. In addition, chatbots may not work well for higher level roles where candidates expect a more personalized experience.

Today recruiting chatbots work in three main channels: SMS, Web and popular messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Depending on your country, candidates may prefer one channel over the other. For example, WhatsApp is a very popular tool in the APAC region, while SMS is preferred by many U.S. job seekers.

If we look at the landscape today, the main use cases seem to fall into these four buckets;

  • Asking Questions: FAQs related to the recruiting process are often easy for chatbots to answer, since the most common questions are repeated over and over and don’t change much over time. Every company has a list of common questions candidates ask,  making FAQs an easy target for chatbot implementation.
  • Pre-screening Candidates: By taking the candidate through a series of screening questions, a chatbot can easily gather important data and filter out applicants who are unqualified. It’s often much more efficient to screen candidates before they click the apply button on your ATS.
  • Interview Scheduling: Letting candidates self-schedule themselves is a great use of a chatbot. Scheduling is a huge time killer for recruiters and coordinators, so it just makes sense to offload that heavy lifting to a chatbot that can ask the candidate when they’re available and setup that first call or visit automatically by syncing with your Outlook or Gmail calendar. 
  • Applying: Chatbots still can’t collect a resume (unless it is a web based chatbot) but they can let people apply if you just collect the basics: Name, phone, email and phone number. By limiting the initial number of form entries you can get a greater percentage of candidates to indicate interest in the position. Interacting with a chatbot is a lot more fun than filling out a form. This helps employers build out their candidate lists by expanding the top of the funnel.

Recruitment chatbots are definitely here to stay as the consumerization of the candidate experience continues. Expect more innovation in the next few years as companies demand more from these helpful tools as technology evolves. The more these chatbots can personalize and automate these hiring conversations, the more time you will free up for your recruiting team.

Stay tuned to the Emissary Insights blog for more chatbot news and to hear about our coming offerings with our own text recruiting chatbot.