Just recently an AI expert stated about chatbots: “I believe they’re the killer application in artificial intelligence.” They revolutionize communication between enterprises and their customers – and now they’ve been adopted by HR departments for digital recruitment.
The chatbots that many enterprises have long been employing in customer service applications are equally useful in the recruiting process. HR chatbots provide new opportunities for companies to position themselves in a competitive labor market as innovative employers that keep potential employees up to date on a 24/7, any location basis. For the majority of smartphone users communicating with voice or chat assistants is a normal part of digital life. In Capgemini’s Conversational Commerce study, almost 70 percent of respondents stated that they preferred using voice assistants instead of human assistants in a shop or call center.
Are there any vacancies in marketing? In Berlin, Leipzig, Cologne, Frankfurt, or Munich? What application documents do I need? What’s the applications procedure? Chatbots are “always on” messengers that can give immediate answers to those and similar questions, whatever the time of day: on the early morning train or in the late evening on the sofa when the “real” people are long gone from the workplace. Today’s chatbots are so articulate it’s often hard to tell whether you’re interacting with a human being or a bot.
But some fundamental differences are immediately noticeable. The most basic kind of bots – FAQ or script bots – operate on the basis of programmed rules. They provide standard scripted responses to standard questions. But if a user wants information about something that isn’t in the script, the bot can’t help them.
Conversations with these kinds of bots tend to be awkward, and often result in an impasse. AI-based chatbots that use natural language processing technology are capable of learning and adapting their language usage to the target group, which makes the interaction much more human-like.
In general chatbots are efficient in scenarios with repetitive questions. This is why it makes sense to outsource initial contact with job candidates to a piece of software. At the outset the recruitment process is time-consuming as the company tries to find suitable candidates for a position and, ultimately, the right new employee.
Virtual career bots save companies both time and money because they can perform repetitive tasks, such as answering the same questions again and again, in place of highly qualified personnel, who are freed up to focus on the important strategic decisions at the end of the recruitment process. Chatbots also enhance the candidate journey by giving candidates a more positive, innovative and intuitive experience with their next potential employer. They enjoy near real-time responses to their inquiries at any time of the day or night. Complicated application processes – job portal searches, updating application documents, sending out applications and arranging interviews – are radically reduced to a few questions that can be answered directly online. Candidates also find it much less daunting to ask a chatbot about salary, vacation leave, working hours and perks such as mobile phones than asking a “real” person in a job interview.
The combination of AI and bots is unbeatable when it comes to finding the perfect candidates for vacant positions. Chatbots are also completely non-discriminatory, and they assess the candidates on the basis of their data alone. In the future it may even be possible to use artificial intelligence to analyse all publicly accessible user data on the Web in portals such as XING or LinkedIn to create digital candidate profiles and match them with job vacancies. These digital headhunters can scan the labor market around the clock for the best candidates on the basis of always-up-to-date profiles.
T-Systems is a digital innovation pioneer that has been using a recruiting chatbot called KATY on its careers website for several years now. KATY answers questions relating to the company, culture, opportunities, and benefits – and allows candidates to discover, filter and select jobs. Thanks to AI the virtual job agent learns continuously through interactions with the candidates. If KATY can’t answer a question she refers it to a recruiter. At the same time, the recruiter’s input is another knowledge building block that adds to KATY’s growing repertoire of responses.
T-Systems developed the career bot in collaboration with JobPal, a startup at Deutsche Telekom’s tech incubator hub:raum specializing in building chatbots designed for recruitment. After a three-month development phase the chatbot went live – and was soon delivering strong results, with increased application rates, improved quality of applications and faster responses to candidate inquiries.
Continuous system optimization is crucial to maintaining those results. User feedback from the fortnightly checks is directly incorporated into the optimization process. In phase 1 KATY interacted with around 300 users, answering two questions per user on average. User acceptance has remained constantly high since the launch. The virtual HR assistant achieves an automated response rate of 80 percent and an applicant-to-interview conversion rate of 15 percent. Although these are impressive figures, T-Systems remains committed to continuously improving and optimizing the candidate experience.