Every interaction with your future employer could make a difference.
Even if they are not a real person.
As a slightly old-fashioned chap, the thought of having a proper conversation with a machine is still a little unnerving. I am fine to ask Alexa the odd question, and my kids certainly have a decent amount of fun with it; however, when it comes to something serious such as a job search, if I were a candidate, I might feel a little wary casually chatting to a bot on the careers website of my potential future employer.
What information might it store about me? Am I asking the right type of questions? Am I curious enough or maybe too curious? Will it give me the depth of information that I need?
Well, in my simplistic view, the core role of a chatbot over the next 2-3 years is to handle all the mundane questions and admin that has previously inundated human recruiters with the volume. In-house (and agency) recruiters want to delve deeper into a candidate’s motivations rather than answering standard questions about benefits, training or job descriptions. If 9/10 of candidates need an answer to a question, a chatbot should be there to provide an answer.
I foresee that the current variant of “have you got a question” chatbots will evolve into bots that take you through the FAQs of everything you need to know about a vacancy and a culture – leading you through the process rather than requiring you to ask the “right” questions. Most candidates don’t know what they need to know, so a proactive chatbot could add a huge amount of value. I admit that the current “how can I help you?” variant isn’t ideal in this regard, but it is a start and it should not put candidates off interacting with it.
When the basic questions are covered, both candidates and recruiters can feel confident in taking the conversation to another level.
Which brings us to the next issue….. Should an employer know about what has been discussed and which issues have been covered?
In practice, a comprehensive chatbot “conversation” would be an ideal first step in an interview process, but many candidates might not want future employers to be aware of their sensitive questions. A simple one like “what is your maternity policy?” might throw up all sorts of unnecessary thoughts for a cynical hiring manager. In this case, a rule of thumb might be to leave the very sensitive questions until you understand that the employer has an interest in you. Obviously, the maternity question is perfectly normal and justified, but if your chatbot history is accessed, it is not hard to see how it might stand out.
Every candidate wants to seem engaged in the process, so once an employer has invested time and money in their chatbot application, it is somewhat neglectful to avoid interacting with it. An interviewer would not want to answer a question that the chatbot could have covered, so I sense that they will become an integral part of the process.
Some of the solutions out there at the moment are hugely impressive. If candidates and employers adopt them en masse, their capability and impact will grow and grow.
If candidates don’t use them, the majority of them will remain largely unimpressive.
There is every reason to embrace recruitment chatbots. Don’t be scared.