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Pros and Cons of Recruiting Chatbots

Hiring can be a time-consuming and tedious process. From tracking down qualified job seekers to conducting initial phone screens to keeping candidates engaged, it takes an average of 36 days to fill a position.

But by adding AI-powered recruiting chatbots to your talent acquisition and hiring process, you can cut down on time-to-hire, improve the candidate experience and attract the right talent for your jobs. However, it’s important to use chatbots strategically or they can backfire, leaving candidates with a negative impression of your company.

Below, we talk about the pros and cons of using chatbots in recruitment, the best HR touchpoints you can automate with chatbots and the ways you can leverage this conversational AI to make better hires.

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What is a recruiting chatbot?

The purpose of a recruiting chatbot is to automate top-funnel recruitment activities and give you more time to focus on the authentic, human-side of hiring (e.g., interviewing, building connected relationships, working out job offers).

In the past, chatbots only provided job seekers with a limited number of canned responses. Now, chatbots leverage Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine learning to understand the nuances of syntax and semantics, and respond to candidates in a human-like way. By learning from each conversation, chatbots get smarter and better at responding to candidates over time.

Benefits of recruiting chatbots

Incorporating a recruiting chatbot into your sourcing and hiring process can take a lot off your plate, improving the entire experience for both you and your candidates. Here are a few of the top benefits of recruiting chatbots:

Expedite your hiring process

On average, hiring managers spend 13 hours a week sourcing candidates for a single role. That’s about 1.5 days out of the week spent on just looking for potential candidates, leaving only 3.5 days for connecting, engaging and closing offers.

Chatbots can streamline this process, reducing your workload and speeding up time-consuming admin tasks, like parsing large volumes of resumes and job applications, contacting candidates, scheduling interviews and booking interview rooms—so you can make the most of your workweek.

Plus, since chatbots can communicate with candidates via text message or chat box, they can actually improve candidate response times, eliminating the need to wait hours or even days to hear back via email. In fact, it takes 90 minutes for people to respond to an email but only 90 seconds for them to respond to a text.

Improve the quality of your hires

Chatbots can pre-screen candidates before you ever see them yourself, giving you the power to sift through dozens of candidates and increase your qualified funnel—without ever having to look at a resume, job application or pick up the phone.

Only the candidates with the right skills and experience will be approved by the chatbot, ensuring you’re only spending time connecting and forming genuine relationships with candidates that are actually qualified for your jobs.

Foster a better candidate experience

Chatbots open the lines of communication. And since chatbots can respond instantly, candidates won’t feel like they’re being ghosted or like they’re sending their resume into a black hole. This is especially important since 49% of all job applicants will believe they didn’t get the job if they haven’t heard back within two weeks of applying. Plus, 48% of all job seekers say that waiting to hear back is their #1 pain point during the hiring process.

What’s more, candidates can talk to the recruiting chatbot after they get off work or over the weekend when you might be unavailable. These flexible communication options are a must, since half of American employees are actively searching for a new role while still in their current job.

Reduce human bias

Unconscious biases can distort hiring in a number of ways. For instance, you might unconsciously give preference to people who are similar to you or unknowingly pass on a candidate because they share the same name as someone who was fired for poor work ethic.

Chatbots remove this human bias by relying on conversational cues to suggest candidates that are the right match for your roles based on skills, experience and qualifications—rather than gender, age and race. In this way, chatbots inject objectivity into the hiring process and ensure that all candidates are being treated equally.

Drawbacks of recruiting chatbots

Chatbots aren’t a perfect solution, and they can come with a few downsides that you should be aware of before deciding to add them to your hiring workflow.

Chatbots have the potential to create a negative impression

Chatbots may create a frustrating customer experience if they don’t know how to respond to what a job seeker is saying. If your chatbot becomes confused or unresponsive, it can make candidates feel like they’re not getting anywhere.

A negative experience can be particularly detrimental if the chatbot is your candidates’ first point of contact. It can impact how candidates view your company and brand, and may make them disinterested in continuing with the hiring process.

Chatbots can be a drain on your time and money

While chatbots might pay off in the long run, they can be a costly upfront investment in time and money. Hours of work and testing are needed to set up the technology and incorporate it into your hiring workflow. Not only that, but chatbots can be expensive to keep up and running: because of the learning curve, you may need a dedicated person to manage and maintain it.

For instance, someone on your team will need to  regularly review interactions, find ways to improve on what your chatbot can do and gather feedback to keep your chatbot healthy. Otherwise, you might start seeing symptoms of bot rot.

Chatbots can’t evaluate human qualities

Unlike human recruiters, chatbots can’t accurately gauge things like personality traits, culture match and work ethic—all factors that are important when assessing whether a candidate is the right match for the company and role.

This means, for example, that candidates who are a good culture match might get overlooked because their years of experience doesn’t match up exactly with the job listing. Or the chatbot might include candidates who don’t uphold the company’s core values in its shortlist of top candidates. All in all, chatbots aren’t smart enough to automate the entire screening process, leaving recruiters with important work to do.

When to use a chatbot in the hiring process

Now that we’ve evaluated the pros and cons of recruiting chatbots, let’s look at the best times to use them. Chatbots can improve efficiency and productivity for a variety of recruiting touchpoints, including:

Pre-screening candidate applications

Once a candidate applies to your job, a chatbot can begin asking them about their work experience, skills, interest areas and previous companies.

After the chatbot gathers the information it’s looking for (and examines the candidate’s resume), it can then recommend whether or not the candidate is qualified to move forward in the hiring process. As the chatbot assesses applicants, it can come up with a shortlist of the top candidates to present to you.

Scheduling interview dates and times

Intelligent chatbots can access your calendar, check your availability and schedule interview dates, times and locations—reducing no-show rates and automating the process of pinpointing a time that works for both you and the candidate.

Answering candidate questions

Chatbots can serve as an interactive, 24/7 FAQ, there to answer a candidate’s company and role-related questions without taking up your valuable time and resources. This is especially important now, as people expect immediate answers and easy access to information (particularly Generation Z, who have grown up in a world of instant information).

By answering questions about everything from salary structures to company culture, a chatbot can help candidates see if your company is the right fit for them—without you having to monitor chat systems and field emails and phone calls.

How to use chatbots the right way

Like every technology and hiring tool, there’s a right way to use it and a less effective way. Here are some best practices for using recruiting chatbots to improve the hiring experience and understand candidates on a deeper level:

Don’t leave out the human touch

Don’t just set it and forget it. Chatbots still require a human touch to work effectively. In fact, 95% of workers agree that technology should assist during the recruitment process, not replace it entirely.

One way to keep the human element is to make sure there are other ways for the candidate to contact you throughout the process (via phone, email, etc.). If it’s hard to get in touch with an actual human, your candidates’ experience can suffer.

Stay in the loop: If a question stumps your chatbot, it should be passed on to a human recruiter for follow up.

It’s also important to be transparent with candidates in order to build trust and manage expectations. Disclose to the candidate when they’re speaking with a chatbot so they don’t feel like they’re being fooled.

Give it the right personality

Make sure the personality of your chatbot aligns with your company’s values, mission and brand voice. For example, you can add gifs or emojis, or keep it strictly professional—whatever’s in line with your company’s culture. Whatever personality you choose, make sure your chatbot isn’t too robotic, cold or impersonal (i.e., no “bot-speak”). You can even consider customizing the name of your chatbot.

Track chatbot performance

Continually evaluate what’s working and what’s not to gauge the success of your chatbot and help tune your system. Consider tracking KPIs like:

  • Chat engagement: The number of candidates who’ve exchanged messages with your chatbot.
  • Bot messages: The length of conversations between candidates and your chatbot.
  • Rate of confusion: How many times your chatbot gets confused by unexpected messages.
  • Quality of applicants: The number of candidates recommended by your chatbot that are actually worth interviewing or hiring.
  • Conversion rate: The percentage of people visiting your company’s career site that convert into your applicant tracking system (ATS).

Recruit a chatbot to boost your hiring

Incorporating recruiting chatbots into your hiring process is a strong way to fuel your talent pipeline, pinpoint the right talent for your open roles more quickly and prevent candidates from feeling like they’re getting “lost” in a job search black hole.

Surprisingly, a chatbot can make your recruiting process more human.

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