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Companies experiencing rapid growth often struggle to find and screen a steady stream of qualified job candidates. The process is time-consuming and when human resources staff are stretched thin, it can stifle business growth. Fortunately, chatbot recruitment can reduce much of the front-end interaction that humans have historically had to do.

A chatbot is a piece of software that simulates human conversation, asking pre-programmed questions and providing answers to typical inquiries posed by humans. This increasingly popular automation tool has recently entered the hiring and recruitment arena.

How chatbots fit in

In the recruiting realm, chatbots have found a number of uses. FirstJob recently debuted Mya, a chatbot that may be able to automate as much as 75 percent of the company’s recruiting process.

Mya starts to work as soon as an applicant completes an online application at one of the company’s client firms, asking questions to screen for particular skills.

 

If an application does not include a required skill or experience level, Mya can immediately alert the candidate and ask for more information. For example, the applicant might be told, “Unfortunately, you’re missing a required skill for this position. Your application is still under consideration, so if you’re still interested, this is a great time to make a case for why you’d be a great fit anyway.” The applicant can then choose to provide a supplementary statement or not, which the hiring manager will take into consideration.

 

Finally, Mya ranks all the candidates based on factors such as qualifications, education, engagement or anything else the client company chooses. Having saved countless hours, a human recruiter then takes Mya’s list and determines who should be interviewed.

The applicant interface

Chatbots aren’t just one-sided gatherers of recruitment information. They can also answer questions and provide additional information as part of the recruiting process, interacting conversationally with applicants much like a live chat representative would.

 

Dialect.ai founder George Perry wrote about his company’s three-step chatbot recruitment process. Dialect.ai’s goal was to recruit recent college graduates, so Perry’s team started by defining the qualities they were looking for in new hires. The company then began posting its job openings on its own website and nowhere else, reducing competition with other companies’ postings.

 

Then Dialect.ai advertised its openings via Facebook to users in its target demographic of recent grads. Qualified applicants who clicked to indicate interest would then be funneled to the company’s chatbot, which would ask and answer questions about the applicant’s skills and experience.

 

“Which university did you attend?” the chatbot would ask, for example. Based on the user’s response, the bot might comment on other alumni in the company and how well they’ve fit in, or exclaim that they’ve never had an employee from the university — “You could be the first!”

 

Following the initial responses indicating a potential match in terms of skills, the chatbot would share what the company was seeking. The bot would then tell those who met the basic criteria about the opening and ask if they would be interested in applying.

 

As a result, Dialect.ai received a list of potential candidates that had already been partially vetted before any employee invested time in the recruiting process. Even better, thanks to the conversational capabilities of the chatbot, the company could communicate with applicants in a style and tone consistent with its culture. Candidates could get a sense of the atmosphere and personality of the organization even before stepping foot inside.

 

It’s true that evaluating job applicants often involves intangibles, like personality and attitude, that require human brainpower and decision-making. But using a chatbot to interest or assess applicants can save precious time and money, leaving human resources personnel more equipped to engage with candidates when it counts the most.

Marcia Layton Turner is an award-winning freelancer who writes regularly about small business and entrepreneurship. Her work has appeared in Entrepreneur, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Black Enterprise, as well as at Forbes, CNNMoney and Amex OPEN Forum, among dozens of others. She has authored, co-authored, or ghostwritten more than 30 non-fiction books on topics ranging from marketing to corporate strategy to leadership. Turner earned her MBA from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

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