Many Job Seekers Are Ready to Work with AI, Chatbots

By Roy Maurer May 17, 2017
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​More than half of surveyed job seekers are comfortable with the idea of interacting with machine-learning chatbots and other artificial intelligence (AI) applications during the hiring process, according to new survey results from Allegis Global Solutions.

The Hanover, Md.-based recruitment process outsourcing firm asked 200 job seekers how they felt about communicating with or being screened or assessed by robots to expedite the hiring process.

"Artificial intelligence is taking over parts of the recruitment process—from answering initial candidate questions to scheduling interviews, and even assessing skills … rapidly streamlining how we hire," said Craig Fisher, marketing and communications director, talent acquisition for Allegis Global Solutions.

"Chatbots are automated versions of 'live chat' that can understand questions and provide individualized responses, based on previous questions," said Jonathan Duarte, an HR technology veteran and co-founder and CEO of GoHire, a chatbot development company in San Francisco. The benefit to a chatbot is that the information is available 24/7, without the need for direct human interaction, he added.

"These helpful apps can really make a difference in sourcing, screening and moving our candidates through the process of becoming our new employees," Fisher said. "And, for now, job seekers seem mostly OK with it."

More than half of respondents to the Allegis survey (58 percent) said they are fairly to extremely comfortable interacting with chatbots to answer questions in the application and interview process.

Still, there were many respondents (42 percent) who reported feeling uneasy or extremely uneasy about having to communicate with the bots.

Most respondents (66 percent) said that they are glad to have chatbots help with interview scheduling and preparation. Slightly over one-third of respondents said they either feel uneasy or extremely uneasy about this functionality. A majority of respondents (61 percent) also said they were either fairly or extremely comfortable having their skills assessed by artificial intelligence tools. The remainder said they would be either uneasy or extremely uneasy with that.

"From the numbers of those who are still uneasy with the robots, it appears we certainly still have a need for more education," Fisher said.

He added that while technology can streamline candidate selection, the human touch must not be left out. "We must remember that people want to work with people. The technology we have is mimicking human interaction, but we need real people in the process as well."

Text, Messenger Broaden Bots' Reach

The survey is positive news for the growing number of bots gaining early ground in the market, including Mya from Mya Systems, which collects information from applicants and assists in scheduling interviews, and GoHire's GoBe, a job search chatbot that leverages Facebook Messenger to connect jobs and candidates.

GoBe essentially performs a standard job search, but what's different is how an individual interacts with it, Duarte said. "We spent a lot of time on the personality of the bot, so it's not a boring corporate entity. It takes chat to a personable level to increase engagement with job seekers."

Employers can create customized pre-screening questions for each job via GoBe, and job applications can be routed to specific recruiters via e-mail, or have their information pushed to an employer's applicant tracking system. 

Candidates can also engage GoBe through a company's corporate careers site. "By providing candidates with answers about company culture, internship programs, collegiate recruiting, company divisions, products and other repetitive candidate questions, recruiters can focus on interviewing and engaging with the top prospective candidates, while providing 24/7 support," Duarte said.

The key to increased engagement levels with job seekers is using bots to communicate through SMS or Facebook Messenger, which deliver higher engagement, conversion and response rates than e-mail, according to Duarte. "The global workforce is already using messaging to communicate but employers aren't," he said. "That makes it a perfect platform for employers who recruit in high-volume, time-dependent and mobile-first environments."

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