People and Tech Work Together for Intelligent Hiring

Companies turn to AI and chatbot technology for candidate matching, selection and filtering

By Marina Arshavskiy April 7, 2019
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​People are usually emotional and empathetic, and sometimes "thinking with the heart" is good. But in talent acquisition, logic often outranks empathy.

Adopting a logical approach to talent acquisition is simply more prudent when we are making hiring decisions to fill highly competitive job openings. That's why tech entrepreneurs, HR managers and recruiters are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbot technologies to match, select and filter job applications.

"The most exciting impact artificial intelligence can have on recruiting and hiring is eliminating unconscious bias when assessing candidates, which will provide a more diverse and inclusive workforce for an organization," said Sherry Martin, SHRM-CP, employee relations manager at OmniTRAX in Denver.

Using AI and chatbots helps talent specialists transform talent acquisition from a transactional activity into a strategic effort.

"Using virtual recruitment chatbots is one way to overcome the main problem in the recruiting funnel, which is the high rate of good candidates dropping out in the early stages," said tech industry expert Sudhanshu Ahuja, CEO and co-founder of impress.ai, a Singapore-based company engaged in HR AI-chatbot development.  

Most importantly, intelligent hiring using HR tech ensures that only the most appropriate candidates make it into the final pool of eligible contenders. This gives HR managers the ability to focus their attention on a significant few applicants, instead of corralling dozens of competitors for the job.

The goal of talent acquisition should be to find and hire the right talent for the job. Unfortunately, the current way in which most recruiters go about achieving that goal has turned matching and selection into a long, drawn-out process. With the onset of faster computers and better AI algorithms, more organizations are turning to technology for help.

How to Hire Quickly

The Hilton hotel and resort chain, with properties and workforces in more than 100 countries, has to hire candidates quickly to fill vacant positions. Amber Weaver, Hilton director of volume recruiting and talent acquisition in Dallas-Fort Worth, summed up the hotel chain's challenge: "We needed to enhance and optimize our recruiting service delivery model with improved scalability in order to hire team members in a short amount of time."

The company used AI-based HireVue to supplement its candidate interviewing and assessment process.

Initially, Hilton experimented with the hiring software's online interviewing tools, but the recruiting team was eager to do more. "We experienced initial success with OnDemand interviews and wanted to take our innovation to the next level by leveraging data science and the predictive capabilities within the platform," Weaver said.

Hilton's previous multistep assessment process used a questionnaire with more than 100 queries, which took over an hour to conduct. There were long wait times and low completion rates. With the implementation of the new hiring software, a combination of video interviews and AI-based predictive technologies helped Hilton focus on sourcing the right talent. These tools were able to assess a candidate's intonation, vocabulary and nonverbal gestures to identify traits commonly associated with top performers. The hospitality industry giant also captured verifiable staffing metrics that might not otherwise have been possible.

A single video assessment, combined with predictive analytics, now takes less than five days—compared to the previous six weeks—to complete. Not only has Hilton managed to improve hiring efficiency through the new process, but it also gets candidates excited about the experience. "Our candidates love the experience, giving our team a candidate Net Promoter Score of 84.9," Weaver said.

'Thanks, Jim!'

Companies including Panasonic, Accenture, DBS Bank and Singapore Tel (Singtel) are using Impress' chatbot technology to make a great impression on candidates. DBS uses its chatbot "Jim" to review resumes, assimilate candidate prescreening interview responses, and perform psychometric profiling assessments. The technology asks questions and assesses responses to make an informed evaluation of the candidate.

Not only has the chatbot helped streamline DBS's hiring process, but it also has helped corporate recruiters save about 40 hours of human effort a month. The impact the chatbot has had on abandonment rates was positive as well. According to Singapore-based DBS recruiter Zhang Xiuwen, "candidates used to have a 15 percent drop-off rate, but with Jim, it's 3 percent."

In fact, most prospective hires don't even realize they are interacting with an AI-driven chatbot. "Some candidates even thanked Jim and said goodbye at the end [of the interaction]! They treated interaction with Jim as interaction with a human, which encouraged us a lot," said Dee Tan, talent acquisition specialist for DBS Bank.

The chatbot was created collaboratively between DBS and Impress and integrates with a wide range of industrial-organizational psychology and psychometric assessment modules, video interviewing tools, and gamification platforms to transform the interviewing process into a more interactive experience for applicants. All this happens long before a candidate is even scheduled for an interview with a talent acquisition specialist.

Chatbots Expedite Matching and Screening

For employers that hire seasonally, such as for holiday rushes or summer tourism, the more candidates they can reach and evaluate, the better their chances of staffing in time. By using AI-driven chatbots as the first point of contact, recruiters get a head start on the screening process.

Where human screeners might vet five or 10 prospective applicants an hour using prepared scripts, chatbots are able to examine hundreds of responses in the same amount of time by drawing on algorithms and machine learning experiences.  

Companies such as Delta Air Lines and Ikea have turned to chatbots to not only expedite their hiring process but also enhance the quality of the candidates they consider.

"The end game was to see more people, meet more people and have a smooth experience for the candidates," said Kim Follis, SHRM-SCP, president of staffing and recruitment firm Delta Dallas Companies. By allowing the company to extend its candidate availability hours from eight hours per day to 24, Delta is now able to "connect with more qualified candidates in a quicker amount of time."

Unilever's global CIO, Jane Moran, who is based in London, is a big proponent of using chatbots in HR applications: "Crucially, it frees up the HR professional's time to really focus on productive ways to support the staff in the business."

Marina Arshavskiy is a freelance writer in Baltimore. 

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