How HR companies use recruitment chatbots
How HR companies use recruitment chatbots
Human resources are key to the running of any business, and the HR department is increasingly looking to technology to make recruitment a fair non-biased procedure, while using bots to help onboard new recruits and to automate many of the simple processes that all workers go through. Using bots and new technology allows HR to focus on driving the business forward through progressive strategies and finding the best people to help.
Rise of the HR Robots
Making the news recently, a Swedish recruitment firm has started using a robot to conduct job interviews, highlighting the rise of AI in recruitment. The technology packed head sits on an office desk and conducts the interviews on behalf of the recruitment agency. This comes as a stark counterpoint to the growing tales of bias, sexism, old-boys networks and other twists that can skew the outcome of a hiring process, leaving the best people for the role far behind.
The robot, called Tengai Unbiased, developed by Furhat Robotics is being used by TNG, a recruitment business driven by Elin Öberg Martenzon, a pioneer in advanced recruitment technology and at the cutting edge of HR trends.
Billed as the world’s first unbiased social robot recruiter, Tengai represents the new face of automation in the recruitment sector, even though more anonymous bots have been holding interviews for some years.
Speaking at a Nordic Recruitment event, she notes that “bias and prejudice are real problems in recruitment today along with candidate shortage, dysfunctional labor market and exponential change. How do we navigate in a changing recruitment world with a massive flow of new technology, and how do we fulfill candidate demands without disturbing the candidate experience or the result? What can an unbiased robot recruiter add to and reduce from the recruitment process?”
You can read a FAQ from Tengai’s developers answering some general questions that both candidates and recruiters might be asking, before being faced with a robotic audience when it comes to a job interview. Tengai has an OS that follows chatbot-like constructs with a question tree, and can provide a touch of personality, but the results it provides to the recruiters are all standardised and anonymised to eliminate bias. Recruiters get transcripts of the interviews to review and choose which candidates go on to personal interviews.
Beyond interview situations, bots can help monitor the process. In 2016, Smashfly claimed some 74% of candidates drop out of the recruitment process. Bots can help keep them engaged, answering after-the-interview questions and providing automated updates as the process moves forward.
What is a Recruitment Chatbot?
Chatbots are performing a similar role for online interviews, helping eliminate bias, without the need for unearthly heads that may put candidates off. Any business can build its own chatbot to conduct such interviews, or acquire one off-the-shelf, or have one custom-made depending on the depth of the interview tasks.
Chatbots solutions can operate using a plain script, use natural language processing (NLP) and natural language understanding (NLU) to recognise and react to keywords from the candidate while deeper AI bots can better understand complex conversations and access wider data sets to respond in an appropriate manner.
In the very near future, incredibly smart bots will be able to field all types of interview questions and analyse the responses from candidates. For now, as chatbots become more common in HR, they can help provide a baseline set of results for first interviews. They can also deliver knowledge, aptitude and other tests to all candidates.
If a business is hiring temporary or seasonal employees, the bot can be used to identify groups of suitable candidates based on objectivity and skillset, rather than relying on intuition, their demeanour and other elements that might influence recruiters during a face-to-face interview.
Having eliminated weaker candidates, the best can be put forward for the traditional panel interviews and other rounds, saving both recruiters and candidates valuable time, travel and other expenses.
While these might sound scary for both traditional candidates and HR professionals, machine learning recruitment and CV screening are already taking place around the world, and the fidelity of these services will only improve, with the aim of helping HR, not replacing workers.
The Roles for Chatbots in Human Resources
Recruitment is just one aspect of the HR department. Onboarding, personnel management, pay, disputes, discipline and other areas that take up much of their time. A mix of scripted bots and AI ai in recruitment and HR can help the department manage its time and those of workers better, using them to answer simple questions, creating an accessible knowledge base of HR information.
Bots can also handle direct tasks like booking time off work, categorising sickness, requests for equipment or access to services, changing passwords and much more. Using HR chatbots will streamline many operations and they operate 24/7, offering increasingly natural language interactions and can be linked to other services to feed data or update dashboards, providing a smooth workflow and saving HR professionals from being on the phone or faced with stacks of email requests.
The recently published State of Play: Global Employee Engagement Trends report tracks employee engagement trends. It highlighted how workers like to be a part of consultations and surveys, something bots are ideally suited to. Training and education can also be bot-led across the workplace as businesses seek to build a new generation of loyal and engaged associates in an increasingly flexible and short-term career market.
Even businesses with intranet HR portals can use bots to widen access to the service, using kiosks for those workers who do not have regular access to PCs or company mobile devices. For global businesses, bots can also automatically translate content to offer a centralised service.
Success With Real-World Job Bots
Whether for interviewing or managing the HR process, the business case for chatbots continues to grow as successful products arrive and thrive, such as MYA, a recruiting chatbot used by 40 of the top Fortune 500 companies including costmetics brand L’Oreal who used it to help revolutionise its recruiting process.
The company, “adopted AI and Machine Learning to avoid the non-value adding tasks and focus on more value-added tasks in recruitment.” It used “artificial intelligence and natural language processing ask questions, verify qualifications, and answer questions from job applicants about things like company culture, policy, and benefits, delivering updates to the recruiters letting the know about the "best-fit" and "non-fit" for the job role.”
To highlight the potential depth and pace of change, Phanindranath Kakarai, head of HR for Edelweiss Group India pointed to “technology as not just a tool, but a way of life going forward - developing and strengthening teams to be nimble enough to leverage any technology, (AI, machine learning, robotic process automation etc).
In the UK, motorcycle brand Triumph is looking to provide workers with a premium experience based around Human Capital Management (HCM) software and chatbots that can answer HR and other queries. Business service firm Pitney Bowes used a chatbot to help boost the workforce at an ecommerce distribution center, pre-screening candidates for a variety of roles and helping move the interview process forward.
Whatever a company’s or department’s opinion on the technology it will have a greater impact on all areas of business, which cannot be ignored. Taking part in a recent ServiceNow survey of 350 HR leaders, some 92% agreed that the future will see chatbots working as part of an overall service providing an enhanced level of employee service.
For those looking to develop or invest in bots, the best time is now, as the speed of progress and development accelerates. Vendors will soon be offering contextualized, transactional API-based chatbots that can fit into existing IT systems and help move the business HR process forward.
Building Your HR Chatbot
Your HR department might not be the largest on the most technically proficient, but can still benefit from a chatbot to begin engaging and interacting with candidates and workers. Even the simplest chatbot can help prospective candidates learn about the jobs on offer and find out about the company. While workers can ask the bot questions rather than hunting for a FAQ or waiting to talk to someone in HR.
Bots can be easily built and deployed on an Intranet or career website, or linked to messaging services like Viber or Skype for office communications. Platforms like SnatchBot offer cloud deployment removing the need for on-premises equipment and minimising time spent building a bot through a code-free design approach.
As the HR conversation becomes more of a two-way process, as businesses become more progressive and employees seek higher levels of engagement, bots can help deal with much of the groundwork.
The future in many offices, departments and across global enterprises is one where bots will be taking on a great deal of work, and companies that lag behind, for all the value of the human touch, will be wasting a great deal of time and effort on conversations that can be better handled by a bot.