The Impact of Conversational AI on Talent Acquisition

We’re just beginning to see how far artificial intelligence can take talent acquisition. Although we might think that AI for TA is based around purpose-specific tools–like tools that will forecast next year’s staffing needs or process background checks–generalist forms of AI like conversational AI are supporting critical needs for talent acquisition. In fact, vendors have adapted the conversational AI model to serve many TA needs all at once. 

The Power of Conversational AI

We now have years of experience and familiarity with tools like ChatGPT, IBM’s Watson Assistant, or Amazon’s Lex (which powers Alexa) to show how effective the simple Q&A format, backed by sophisticated Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Natural Language Understanding (NLU), can be to serve organizations of all types. For instance, technological advancements in conversational AI technology have now made chatbots not only a satisfactory replacement for IT or customer support but actually preferable in some instances. The same is now true for candidates that talk to a chatbot in order to apply for a job.

In fact, increasing candidate engagement through a chatbot–which improves the overall candidate experience from the very beginning of the application process–is just one of many ways that organizations now use conversational AI to support talent acquisition. Organizations use conversational AI not only to offer a more personalized, friendly experience for candidates but also to prompt questions that help to gather critical candidate information to speed up the application process and direct candidates to their appropriate spots, whether to an HR screening, formal interview, or perhaps another role that fits them better. 

Conversational AI’s Impact on High-Volume Recruiting

Conversational AI also helps to better manage a high volume of candidates. It’s simply impossible for organizations to do effective high-volume recruiting if their recruiters need to have long, detailed conversations with each candidate, nor is it even ideal anymore. A chatbot can gather the required candidate information and documentation quickly in a manner that is not off-putting or inefficient for a candidate–even a candidate that lacks perfect grammar, such as one for whom English is a second language.

In today’s climate, in which TA specialists are being asked to do more with less, conversational AI substitutes as the candidate’s first touchpoint, allowing recruiters to shift their work toward higher-priority tasks compared to basic documentation or scheduling. In most cases, conversational AI goes a step further, moving past that initial candidate conversation and managing candidate communication all the way up to the interview. Recruiters can now ask conversational AI to build templates for candidate outreach and email, text, or even leave voice messages to candidates to follow up–for instance, to complete an application, to pursue other roles, or to provide more information toward a completed application.

Supporting Recruiter-Centric Processes

These are all ways in which conversational AI provides a better candidate-centric form of talent acquisition, but the generalist nature of conversational AI allows it to provide a better recruiter-centric form of talent acquisition at the same time. Recruiters now hand many different tasks off to a generalist chatbot, so that they can focus on interviewing or building a hiring strategy. For instance, conversational AI makes both internal and external candidate sourcing quick and easy for recruiters. It supports internal sourcing by allowing recruiters to ask the platform a simple set of questions from which its engine can search among the pool of existing employees or candidates to rediscover in the ATS to find the right matches for open roles. It supports external sourcing by extending matching platforms like HireEZ or Seekout, allowing recruiters to ask questions that will help them find great matches from the large number of passive candidates these platforms house in their databases. Although conversational AI would require some integration with these standalone platforms, it provides a level of ease for recruiters beyond executing a boolean search. 

In fact, there are now vendors that have pushed aside the traditional candidate search process altogether in favor of an easy-to-use conversational AI approach. Hopward acts as a standalone conversational AI candidate sourcing platform, combining a team of sourcers to help build a strong candidate pipeline with AI to facilitate the matching and selection process. With these types of sourcing capabilities, conversational AI is an asset to corporations or staffing agencies alike. 

Revolutionizing Referrals and Data Reporting

Conversational AI has even made its way into the referral space. Recruiters can ask the platform to help identify if potential candidates have connections to current employees. Recruiters can use conversational AI to help gather information about the source of candidates, and use the platform to help facilitate referral payouts.

You can see from this referral example how conversational AI has made its way into data, analytics, and reporting. Recruiters can now use conversational AI to simplify the data-gathering process that helps build a better talent acquisition strategy. If you need to know your organization’s average time to hire, for instance, there are forms of conversational AI in which you can ask just that–no need to build out a report or dashboard. It is generalist technology to support a very wide range of talent acquisition functions. And while its presence in TA is still relatively small and growing, it will expand its presence the way that it has in other business operations.

The Future of Conversational AI in Talent Acquisition

While generalist forms of technology can sometimes end up as one-size-fits-none in practice, conversational AI has proven much more of a one-size-fits-all approach to talent acquisition; NLP and NLU have come that far. In the process, we’ve seen a number of impressive platforms come about that support talent acquisition and are built on a foundation of strong conversational AI, including Hopward, Paradox, and Sense. The ease of use and range of opportunities with conversational AI will make for a much more crowded marketplace as the technology continues to improve.

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