Hiring Success

Automation & Beyond: How Chatbots Power Hiring Success

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Recruiting chatbot expert, Chris Raw shares how this interactive AI can boost your Talent Acquisition strategy from insights to time-saving. 

Table of contents

  1. Candidate experience & employer brand
  2. Recruiter Success
  3. Chatbots & Hiring Success

I joined the chatbot company Jobpal (now acquired by SmartRecruiters) as the head of customer success in February of 2019. It was hard to say goodbye to my previous leadership role with an amazing in-house recruiting team, but I took the vendor side because of my experience there: I had seen the potential of chatbots to transform the recruiting process — namely candidate experience — for the good! Let me tell you about it…

I was working with an e-commerce fashion company. My prerogative was to create a candidate experience that was comparable to the consumer experience. Our customers were happy, we were growing in leaps and bounds, even our TA team had grown by 60% or more, but this hyper-growth and need for speed had diminished the candidate experience.

So, what do you do when you have three to four thousand annual hires and no sign of slowing down? We had to stay quick to remain competitive, however, a compelling candidate experience is the first pillar of Hiring Success and we knew ultimately a workable solution had to include both. 

The biggest lesson we learned? Have chatbots talk to candidates! I can’t say it enough.

We took stock of our process, to see where candidates bottlenecked or falling out of the funnel, and implemented a range of technologies. The biggest lesson we learned? Have chatbots talk to candidates! I can’t say it enough. Chatbots have been on the market for years, but the majority of enterprise recruiting teams have yet to take advantage. I believe this is because companies don’t fully understand the deep value of this technology.

So let’s talk about how chatbots can not only save time but become an integral part of your recruiting strategy beyond simply automating conversations…

Chatbots deliver a compelling candidate experience & powerful employer brand insights 

Think of a chatbot as a helpful assistant in the department store. They can help you find exactly what you’re looking for in less time and answer simple, yet specific questions. In addition hey tailor the experience to your needs — someone shopping for a prom dress wants a different experience than someone who’s shopping for running shoes.

Let’s see how this plays out on a career site, let’s say the visitor is a developer who only wants to work with the coding language, react…

Let’s talk about the above interaction. In this simple conversation the chatbot already answered two important questions, moving the candidate down the funnel. The developer is now interested in seeing if there are any jobs in her area.

Now the chatbot has presented relevant info for that audience segment, tailoring the ‘story’ to the individual. Often, career sites must appeal to a range of career levels and types, chatbots help personalize the experience. 

At my previous workplace, we were able to gather valuable insights to talent types even before they applied. Perhaps there is a candidate type who is falling out of the funnel before the application begins or frequently asked questions, with chatbot insight you can turn these takeaways into touchpoints. 

Success Story: VBZ

We like to say “turn your insights into stories” and that’s what VBZ, Zurich’s  public transport service, did. Their chatbot helps to educate and engage talent into the business-critical role of tram pilot. They are focusing on candidates who want to retrain in this field for a career more suited to family life. They learned from their chatbot that shift patterns are very important to this talent type. This learning helped the company give candidates more relevant stories online and in the interview process.

Chatbots Power Recruiter Success

Recruiting is rife with menial tasks that take away from, what should be the priority, building relationships. One such time suck is candidate queries. That is unless you have a chatbot doing the heavy lifting. Your candidates will get more timely answers, and your recruiters can focus on value-add tasks. It’s a win-win. (What’s more, and I’m completely serious about this,  a chatbot can prevent premature grey hairs). 

As a talent leader, it’s a great way of introducing your AI and machine learning into your hiring strategy right at the grassroots level – empowering your recruiters and recruiting coordinators to train the chatbot in a very easy way (most teams log in every day and spend roughly 5-10 mins approving questions to the data set to keep the chatbot fit and healthy). 

Success Story:  Airbus

Airbus, the world’s largest airline manufacturer decided to give their chatbot a name: Bessie (selected by recruiter poll). The team helped train Bessie so she could go live on their global career site in just four weeks. It was like onboarding a new colleague, only now the colleague was an AI instead of a human. But why shouldn’t you onboard technology with the same care as you would a flesh and blood recruit?

All this human interaction helped Bessie start strong, immediately freeing up bandwidth for her human colleagues. In fact, Bessie was able to automate over 55,000 candidate questions in her first year saving hundreds of hours for Airbus recruiting teams across the globe.

How does this relate to Hiring success?

Now let’s touch on the Hiring Success metrics and how chatbots touch each one…

  1. Hiring Budget
  2. Hiring Velocity
  3. Net Hiring Score

Hiring Budget

Chatbots help your team get more bang for your buck by facilitating the candidate’s discovery voyage with bespoke and on-demand content. This interactive experience increases engagement and limits unnecessary drop-off.

Think about it, chatbots help you close candidates quicker by funneling them into relevant discovery paths based on their questions. This delivers a first-rate candidate experience, but it ensures that the money you’ve already spent on brand awareness activities or job advertising goes to good use. In addition to advising you on where to promote jobs in the future based on your audience. 

You’ll also experience soft ROI gains in terms of tone of voice, brand consistency through multiple languages, and accuracy of information.  Whether you are a global company that is looking to talk to your talent audiences in multiple languages or you have a team where some speak English (or your business’ language) as a second language. 

Hiring Velocity

The need for speed in hiring is crucial. So let’s split this off into 2 sections.

  1. Time saved answering questions 
  2. Time spent closing top talent

Time Saved

We touched upon this earlier about the amount of time saved for recruiters answering repetitive questions, but let’s dig a bit deeper into the ROI of time saved.

Remember,  Airbus was able to automate over 55,000 questions in its first year.

It turns out if we say every question on average takes five mins to answer, and they had to answer all of these questions one by one, it would equate to over 4,583 hours saved for their recruiting teams across the year or 114 working weeks saved!

Now you might think that this is a stretch but the reality is, without a chatbot talent acquisition teams do not know their total addressable market for questions from their talent audience as it’s often a high effort for the candidate to ask these questions and often across multiple manual channels like centralized inboxes, like jobs@acme.com aka — the black hole), various social channels or recruiters directly. It makes much more sense to use a chatbot as the frontline support and take the burden away from recruiters who will focus on more meaningful value add activities. This really helps to speed up the process and further increase your hiring velocity.

Time Spent 

After you have spent your hard-earned budget on attracting the right candidates to your front door, make sure you get them into the application process ASAP. You don’t want to lose top talent because of unanswered questions.

 A chatbot is extremely effective at helping candidates understand their options or dispelling doubt from unanswered questions or information gaps.  Chatbots can even take over administering pre-screening questions so candidates can apply directly. Talk about efficiency! 

Success Story: Global logistics company

A global logistics company won a Stevie Award last year for their Whatsapp chatbot that utilized both FAQ automation and Job Discovery. 

They placed QR codes linking directly to the WhatsApp chatbot in all their usual channels helping candidates to engage. The chatbot answered questions, surfaced relevant opportunities, and administered basic screening questions. Candidates could apply within four minutes with a truly mobile-first experience. This shaved off 50% of their average time to apply.

You can put QR codes anywhere. It’s not just a fast experience, but one that allows a great data capture that’s highly efficient and effective. For the global logistics company, around 95% of candidates completed applications on average so there is only a 5% drop off from the flow. Incredible!

 What’s more, this has enormous benefits for compliance by stopping paper-based CV flow in their retail stores and converting this directly into a personalized digital experience with the candidate using their mobile phone as the enabler. Retail especially relies a lot on CV drops in store but this can be inefficient and creates gaps in compliance. Engage offers a way to get around this but still making the most of your best candidates — your fans who know and love your brand and really want to work there.

Net Hiring Score

Now let’s think about long term success. You want the people you hire to be great fits three months down the line. Chatbots help to increase your net hiring score by ensuring candidates have all the relevant info they need in the beginning stages, so there are no unpleasant surprises down the line.  

At one of our customers, STRV, a development agency based in the Czech Republic and the USA, they had candidates who were asked at the interview stage… “Do you have any further questions?” to which candidates would answer “I don’t have any more questions – I already asked your chatbot.”

Closing Thoughts

The beauty of a conversation is that it’s a thing. It’s interactive and yet personal and relevant. When you increase relevance, you increase the chances that it means something to that individual and making it more likely that they apply as it’s an accurate match for them. Asking questions, getting instant answers, starting a discovery of opportunity, and applying for the role — all in a quick, but highly relevant way as it’s based on the personal interactions.

All of these elements come together to increase the ROI on your hiring budget, increases the chances of you filling more opportunities on time, increase the quality of your hires through better net hiring scores which ultimately equals your hiring success as you further increase the value that your team brings to your organization through bigger and better business outcomes.

Chris Raw

Customer Success Manager @ SmartRecruiters