It’s old news that recruiters are sweet on technology to bolster their recruitment strategies – everyone’s time-poor and hunting for ways to minimise effort whilst maximising results. Anything that can reduce the time and costs involved in hiring is music to a recruiter’s weary ears, and one nifty way to do this is enlisting the help of some robot friends, more commonly referred to as ‘Chatbots’. So what are these handy little bots, and how can they benefit you?
They’re a fairly basic form of software that is designed to imitate a human conversation. Think of Siri, Alexa, Cortana and Google Now – though these are all more advanced than your average chatbot, they work in a similar way, providing an interactive platform which provides useful information for the user. Chatbots are powered by AI technology to learn how to respond in a way that best serves the users’ needs.
Chatbots can be used on various platforms, including social media, sms, email, websites and applicant tracking systems. They pop up all over the place these days – have you been on a website recently and had a pop-up window saying something along the lines of “Can I help you with anything?” chances are, that’s a chatbot right there.
1. Simple, accessible and familiar
Chatbots present a method of communication that’s familiar and accessible to candidates. The majority of people will already use some form of instant messaging service – whether in the form of Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts or Skype – so they’re used to the format and how it works.
2. Higher open rates compared to emails
Average open rates for bot messages are an impressive 80%–90%, compared to email open rates of just 20%–30%, meaning that you’re far more likely to engage with candidates using chatbots. This opens up the potential to quickly build a list of leads, forming the basis of a strong and productive talent pool.
3. Speeds up the hiring process
We’re only human…for all our best intentions, sometimes things crop up unexpectedly and side-track us, meaning we’re not always able to respond and react to things as soon as we’d like to. Being able to offer an alternative way to screen and communicate with candidates, and to answer commonly asked questions, means that even if you are delayed in responding to a candidate for whatever reason, the hiring process doesn’t have to grind to a standstill. Having a chatbot supporting the other functions and processes within your business helps to keep everything moving and progressing, without you becoming a bottleneck.
4. Improves communication for better candidate experience
One of the biggest frustrations for candidates is poor communication during the hiring process. Sometimes candidates might just need a simple answer to a simple question, which doesn’t necessarily require human intervention – this might be wanting a bit more information about a role that hasn’t been specified in a job advert, like salary, full-time or part-time, and location. Being able to answer these questions quickly will help you to keep talented candidates engaged and increase the likelihood of them applying for a job.
Though it may sound ironic, using a robot to keep the channel of communication open and flowing can be the key to maintaining a ‘human’ touch, making your candidates feel valued and important, and giving them a better candidate experience.
5. Reduces admin time
Admin is the bane of most recruiters’ lives, so using chatbots to gather candidate information such as CVs, contact details, qualifications/skills/experience, and to schedule an interview with a human, will free up valuable time for you to do other more important tasks that can’t be done by a bot.
6. Gain valuable insights into candidate behaviour
In this technological revolution for recruitment, Data is King. Chatbots have the advantage over email marketing, as there’s no form to fill out for opting in – candidates simply click a button to opt in. In doing so, you’ll receive their first and last names, gender and time zone.
If you’re smart about the questions you programme a chatbot to ask, you can gain a deeper understanding of candidates’ behaviour – find out what motivates them, what they want from a job (and what they don’t), why they’re looking for a new job. You can even gauge how effective your job adverts are – if someone’s viewed a job but hasn’t applied, get your chatbot to ask them why, and you’ll be mining data which will help you improve your strategy and fill vacancies quicker.
Though they’re a useful tool in recruitment, Chatbots do have their limits. There will be some questions that can’t be answered by a bot and need a one-on-one conversation with a human being – luckily, bots can be programmed to hand over the conversation to a real person when they get stuck.
Non-standard text from a candidate could confuse a chatbot and hold up the conversation. Incorrect spellings, slang words, shortened versions of words that are used in text messages, and emojis might all throw the chatbot and leave them unsure of how to respond.
A final word of warning, is that for your best efforts, you can’t always predict how a candidate will react to a programmed question. This will mostly be down to how effectively the chatbot can answer a candidate’s question and give them the information they need.
The great thing about chatbots is that you don’t need to be a coder to build one. You can easily build one by using a bot-building platform, such as ManyChat and Chatfuel. These are free to use and simple to navigate, so you can get your chatbot up and running in no time at all!
Chatbots are a useful tool to save recruiters time on admin and screening candidates. They’re quick, cheap and simple to build, and can start gathering valuable candidate insights in an instant. But they shouldn’t be regarded as a replacement for humans. Use chatbots as part of your wider recruitment strategy, and you’ll be well on your way to providing a positive candidate experience, and hiring better candidates faster than the competition.
Want more handy recruitment tips? Sign-up to our weekly newsletter below.