Will Chat Bots Named Watson or Mya Replace Recruiters?

By Stephanie Beck-Tauscher

Have you ever engaged with a chatbot (a computer program that simulates human conversation through artificial intelligence) in regards to a job opening? Based on what I’ve read, it might sound something like this:

    Bob the Bot: “Hi, [Your Name]! I noticed you’re missing required education for the position for which you applied. Have you included all of your relevant educational experience in your application? If not, you may want to update that now.”
    You the Candidate: “Thanks for the tip, Bob. I just updated my application with a certification course I completed two years ago.”
    Bob the Bot: “Great. Our recruiters are reviewing your application. You’ll hear from one of them soon.”

The idea of a chatbot that uses artificial intelligence to source, screen, interview, and even offer jobs to candidates may still seem distant, but in reality this technology is already being utilized and sold as a service. As part of the larger artificial intelligence (AI) movement, chatbots will become more commonly used throughout the recruitment cycle. Chatbots may help companies:

  • Sort through resumes and online profiles
  • Analyze facial expressions during video interviews
  • Send applicants updates about the hiring process
  • Answer candidate questions

As this will be a time saver for recruiters, current applicant tracking systems are increasingly integrating AI as part of their offerings. However, the same fundamental challenges exist with regard to attracting and winning specialized and highly sought after talent. AI is equipped to make candidate decisions, but at the current stage of development, it’s only as good as the programming behind it.

    Example to consider: An employer identifies a “years of experience” requirement which is entered into the AI system. Someone applies for the job, but doesn’t technically meet the requirement; however, they do have other relevant, transferable experience. Current AI systems may not understand that nuance and may reject the candidate. The company could lose a potentially great hire.

Hiring for hard to fill, niche, or specialized positions — as well as personality and culture fit — is all about nuance and while AI technology is advancing it’s not there quite yet. During a recent Twitter chat (#NextChat) hosted by the Society for Human Resources (SHRM), HR pros shared thoughts about everything from their current experiences with AI, to concerns they have about using this new technology for recruiting purposes.

The benefits of AI mentioned included:

  • Saving time thanks to pre-sorting and categorizing
  • Streamlining tasks such as pre-screening, interview scheduling, etc.
  • Demonstrating an organization’s use of progressive technology

AI adds value and can streamline parts of the recruitment process; for high-volume, standardized jobs like call center representatives or fast-food employees, AI might make it easier to screen candidates and fill open positions more quickly.

But for other jobs, those that require higher levels of education as well as specialized knowledge and experience, companies still need to have relationships with their candidates to “win” the war on talent. This concern for the “human factor” came up during SHRM’s #NextChat, when participants brought up concerns about the potential loss of a personalized experience, and the inability to build relationships with candidates.

Even with advancements in AI, the long-term health and stability of a company are still tied to the relationship the organization has with its employees and/or contractors.

    Example to consider: A potential employee or contractor applies for a job, meets the criteria, and receives an automated message. A chatbot powered by AI (see the “conversation” at the beginning of this post) can ask follow-up questions or answer the candidate’s questions. The candidate meets necessary criteria and is asked to schedule an interview via the computer system, and then participates in an online screening exercise before an in-person interview.

In this scenario, utilizing AI saves time. However, employers also need to establish a sense of connection and personalization that will impact a future employee’s sense of loyalty for the organization.

Human connection will continue to play an integral role in creating and maintaining a dedicated and loyal team. At this point, AI is just one of the many potential candidate sourcing tools available when sourcing and attracting top talent in today’s competitive marketplace. Our team at Resourceful HR remains committed to learning all we can about how to effectively use AI and other strategic sourcing tools—including the human connection—to help our clients find great talent and make the best hires possible.

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As a recruiter, I’m exposed to new opportunities and information on a daily basis. I thrive on learning about new industries, new technology, new positions—and then using what I’ve learned to help make a great candidate-company match.