Chatbots in Recruitment: Pros and Cons

Chatbots have been a common buzzword in the news in recent years; but what exactly is a chatbot? Chatbots or ‘automated conversational agents’ are computer programs which use natural language processing to simulate human conversations. They have been around since the 1960s, with Eliza being one of the earliest. Created by Joseph Weizenbaum, Eliza parodies a Rogerian therapist, largely by rephrasing many of the patient’s statements as questions and posing them to the patient.

The evolution of chatbot intelligence, with increasing use of conversational interfaces powered by AI, are allowing companies to see the true potential of automated conversation at scale. In some industries, chatbots are beginning to take over from the more traditional communication of email, SMS and push notifications with customers. However, they are not meant to replace humans, but simply bridge the gap between companies and customers.

It’s easy to see the success that B2C companies such as Starbucks and Dominos have had with chatbots, but how do these success stories translate in the recruitment and staffing industry? Let’s see how recruitment agencies or talent acquisition functions could utilise chatbots to increase the candidate experience and maximise efficiencies.

What Are The Benefits Of Chatbots In Recruitment?

1. Increased Candidate Experience

The use of chatbots in messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp (when released in 2018) or text provides 24/7 support to candidates due to the ‘instant’ nature of a chatbot. Studies have shown that 74% of candidates do not complete the full application process, so consider the benefits of a recruitment chatbot that will nudge or remind the candidate that they have not yet completed their application. Once an application is submitted, 43% of candidates reported they never hear back from a company after one touch-point, which can be a challenge for recruitment agencies or staffing functions facilitating volume recruitment.

The advances made in natural language processing means that it is possible for a chatbot to give ‘human’ responses to questions, improving the candidate experience. You can see this in the software developed by companies such as Mya, who have already developed a chatbot specifically for recruitment.

what is chatbot in recruitmentImage credit: Hire Mya

2. Processing High Volume Administrative Or Repetitive Tasks

From eCommerce to professional services to recruitment, the time-saving benefits of using chatbots for customer engagement is tenfold. Chatbots are able to automate high volume administrative or repetitive tasks that would ordinarily take up a significant amount of time, leaving recruiters with more time to connect with candidates on other aspects of the recruitment process.

In a survey conducted by Allegis, 58% of candidates were comfortable interacting with AI and chatbots in the early stages of the application process. An even larger percentage – 66% – were comfortable with AI and chatbots taking care of interview scheduling and preparation.

Chatbots are currently being used by recruitment agencies or talent acquisition functions for:

  • Reminding candidates when an application has not been finished, or if it has been incorrectly completed.
  • Ranking candidate applications/CVs.
  • Clarifying a candidate’s experience or qualifications for an applied job.
  • Answering FAQs about an applied job or the application process.
  • Scheduling interviews.

It is, however, important to note that while the above features could certainly streamline recruitment processes in ways that have not been possible before, this does not dictate that chatbots will replace recruiters themselves.

What Are The Challenges For Chatbots In Recruitment?

It’s clear to see the benefits that using a chatbot for recruitment could bring, but what challenges can the recruitment industry expect to face when developing a chatbot?

1. A Lack Of Humanness

Due to the limitations of a chatbot only processing and generating questions and answers, there are still improvements to be made in how seamlessly they can interact with real people.

While candidates may be happy to interact with chatbots as part of the application process, a chatbot should not be used where ‘human empathy or questioning’ within the recruitment process is required.

2. Standardisation Of Language

Even in day-to-day written communication between a recruiter and candidate, the ‘standardisation of language’ is required to ensure the information being provided is professional and will be understood by both parties,

Because we all have different ways of texting (including slang, short form or emoji), a chatbot will utilise its knowledge gained from previous interactions or refer the conversation over to a recruiter when it gets stuck.

3. Problem Solving Capability

Chatbots are programmed to ‘learn’ responses based on previous interactions, which naturally means that they are not capable of solving new problems as they arise. A candidate’s reaction to the technology will likely largely depend on how well the chatbot tried to answer the question, or when they refer the conversation to a recruiter to answer or solve.

As you can see, using a chatbot powered by AI can certainly be a valuable way to automate high volume and repetitive tasks within the recruitment process, especially during the application/candidate qualification stages, whilst providing a round-the-clock service to candidates.

However, as with any new technology, chatbots will continue to evolve with the power of AI as it becomes more sophisticated with overcoming some of the challenges outlined above. In fact, our recent survey of recruitment professionals found that only 5.6% of UK & Ireland agencies are considering investing in AI/machine learning in 2018. The question is, could there be no better time to start investing in chatbots, especially where basic administrative tasks and candidate engagement could be easily handled by a chatbot?

Learn more in our free UK and Ireland recruitment industry and technology trends for 2018 eBook.

How to build an exceptional recruitment team

7 Counter Offer Statistics Every Recruiter Needs To Know

Counter offers are among the most frustrating turn of events that can happen during the recruitment process. You’ve put in the hours of hard graft, having built a strong relationship with a candidate and introduced them to your client who, after months of searching, has identified your candidate as “The One.” They place a strong offer on the table and you can’t wait to get on the phone to tell your star candidate the exciting news.

They sound positive on the phone but they need a few days to consider the offer – nothing out of the ordinary. You’ve had a few high fives in the office and you’re already mentally spending the bonus money that you know your placement will bring in this month.

And then, it happens!

Their current employer swoops in with the counter offer and you can sense the placement, and your monthly target, slipping away. And we all know that, more often than not, counter offers DO NOT work out in the long term. To help you manage the situation effectively and convince your candidate to make the right decision for them, here’s 7 counter offer statistics you can use when you’re having that crucial conversation.

1. 80% of candidates who accept a counter offer from their current employer end up leaving within 6 months.

Perhaps the most popular statistic recruiters are drawn towards is this one. It confirms the suspicion that by the time a candidate is motivated enough to go through the application and interview process for another role, even if they accept a counter offer, they will not be staying at the company in the long term. This may be for a number of reasons; whether they accept the counter offer and then quickly decide it is the wrong choice or they lose respect from their superiors and are inclined to move on a few months later.

2. 9 out of 10 candidates who accept a counter offer leave their current employer within the twelve-month mark.

Just to put the nail in the coffin, this statistic shows just how fragile the candidate’s future at their existing company is, if they accept. A counter offer is beneficial to the current employer because it also buys them sufficient time to look for a long term replacement, with the knowledge that the candidate is almost certain to leave within 12 months.

3. 50% of candidates that resign will be counter offered by their current employer.

In the past, counter offers were reserved only for senior members of staff but, in the last 10 years, the tendency for the existing company to counter offer has increased, even for more junior roles. As we can see from stat 4, although a counter offer may make the candidate feel valued, in truth, it is often more financially beneficial for the employer to make a counter offer than to immediately accept defeat.

4. It can cost the current employer as much as 213% of annual salary to replace a senior executive.

Financially speaking, counteroffers make complete sense to employers, particularly for senior roles. If the employer is tasked with replacing an employee who earns £85,000, this means it could potentially cost up to £181,000 when you factor in the recruitment process, time lost on work and training costs.

When you consider this, counter offering with a salary rise of £20,000 doesn’t seem like such an extravagant risk for an employer. In fact, employers can temporarily satisfy the requirements of a key employee in the knowledge that they can prepare themselves for their departure.

5. 50% of candidates that accept counter offers from their current employer are active again within 60 days.

This statistic re-emphasises just how short term the solution of accepting a counter offer can be for candidates. There are often a multitude of reasons why candidates are looking for a new role and, for the majority of cases, the novelty of an increased salary and the promise of more responsibility wears off very quickly; usually within 2 months.

6. Only 38% of hiring managers reported not making counter offers at all.

Admittedly, this statistic is from 2014 but it is unlikely to have dropped dramatically. The reality is that hiring managers will make counter offers if they feel that it is financially viable or they honestly feel that they can offer the candidate a more worthwhile career proposition. So if you haven’t come across them as a recruiter yet, it really is only a matter of time. The wise thing to do is to have your facts and figures prepared to help manage a counter offer situation when, not if, it happens.

7. 57% of employees accept counter offers made to them.

The demoralising fact is that the majority of counter offers are still accepted but this shouldn’t demotivate you. As a recruiter, you must act as an adviser to your candidate, giving them the broader context and the clarity to judge for themselves, but ultimately leaving the decision up to them. After all, it is their future and their career and whether they accept the counteroffer or not, you want to maintain a solid relationship with your strongest candidates so that when they are ready to make the next step up, they think of coming to you first.

Our survey of recruitment professionals identified “finding top talent” as the number 1 challenge for recruiters in 2018. Download the full eBook and learn what else 2018 has in store.

How to build an exceptional recruitment team

What is GDPR? The Need To Know Guide

Over the last 6-12 months, the vast majority of recruitment agencies have been beginning to focus more and more on reviewing their approach of data processing to address the upcoming GDPR legislation. To give you a simple need to know guide, we have compiled the answers to the 8 most frequently searched questions in Google about GDPR.

What Is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) is the much anticipated legislation that aims to further safeguard and standardise individuals’ data across European (EU) member states for all citizens.

The EU’s GDPR website says the legislation is designed to “harmonise” data privacy laws across all EU member states as well as give greater protection and rights to individuals. But why now?

You only have to think about how data collection and processing has changed in your industry since the 1990s to recognise the necessity to revise these regulations – it really was only a matter of time. What this means for organisations across EU member states is that they will have to audit and amend their data processes for individuals, accordingly, to comply with the new and updated laws.

When Does GDPR Come Into Force?

The new GDPR regulation comes into force for all EU member states from 25 May 2018. This means that you will have to have changed your processes before this data or risk incurring the increased fine. The new legislation was agreed to by all member states of the EU on 24th May 2016 giving businesses two years to comply.

Who Enforces GDPR?

Each member state of the EU will appoint Supervisory Authorities (SA) who will be in charge of enforcing GDPR. These SAs will be responsible for upholding GDPR regulation in their own individual states coordinated by the European Data Protection Board. They each have investigatory and corrective powers meaning that they can:

  • Conduct audits
  • Issue warnings and reprimands
  • Impose bans
  • Suspend data transferring
  • Issue administrative fines

The rigour with which the SAs enforce the legislation will depend entirely on the individual SAs and member states themselves. According to IT Governance, historically, this has differed quite significantly with Germany and Spain typically being toughest on data protection in comparison to the Republic of Ireland, which has a track record of being lenient.

Will GDPR Replace The Data Protection Act (DPA)?

Simply – yes.
The GDPR supersedes the 1995 Data Protection Directive (DPD) which was issued to all European states. The UK’s 1998 Data Protection Act will be superseded by a new DPA that will enact the GDPR requirements.

What Are The Maximum GDPR Fines?

The maximum fines under GDPR have increased to €20m (Approx £17.6m) or 4% of an organisations annual global turnover, whichever is larger.

This is a huge increase on the DPA’s current maximum fine of £500,000 but the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has assured that fines will not become the norm. Writing in August 2017, the Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham stated that, “issuing fines has always been, and will continue to be, a last resort”. In fact of the 17,300 cases concluded in 2016/2017, only 16 of them resulted in fines.

Are GDPR Fines Insurable?

As GDPR has not come into effect yet, there is not a definitive answer to this question and it will depend on a case by case basis. In brief, if a business is deemed to be committing a criminal offence, it seems likely that they will NOT be insured against GDPR fines under the principle of the “illegality defence.” The “illegality defence” prevents a claimant from pursuing a civil claim against another party if the claim is based on the claimant’s own illegal acts.
If you would like a more comprehensive answer on this topic, read brownejacobson’s blog.

What Does GDPR’s “right to be forgotten” Rule Mean?

Article 17 of the GDPR, the right to erasure or “right to be forgotten” has become a focal point of the upcoming GDPR. Under the new regulation, it will become an individual right to request the deletion or removal of personal data when there is no compelling reason for its continued processing.

Some of the most common instances where an individual can request erasure are:

  • Where the personal data is no longer necessary in relation to the purpose for which it was originally collected/processed
  • When the individual withdraws consent
  • When the individual objects to the processing and there is no overriding legitimate interest for continuing the processing
  • The personal data was unlawfully received and processed (i.e. otherwise in breach of the GDPR)

Want to read Article 17 in full?

Will GDPR Apply After Brexit?

Due to the fact that GDPR will come into force some 10 months before the expected end of the United Kingdom’s EU membership, businesses and organisations will have to prepare regardless of changes Brexit may undertake.
It is still wholly unclear what effect Brexit will have on data protection laws but the best estimate is that the UK’s data protection laws will aim to uphold the key tenets of GDPR, namely the increased rights of individuals’ data privacy and the increased transparency by which businesses process data.

How Will GDPR Affect Recruitment Agencies?

In our July 2017 GDPR blog, we outlined the key impacts that GDPR will have on recruitment agencies in terms of changes to processes, data management and documentation.

We have also published a GDPR eBook covering the following topics:
1. What GDPR means for recruitment agencies.
2. What recruitment agencies need to consider.
3. The candidate data-related Eclipse Recruitment Manager 4 software configuration and functionality options available to you when reviewing your GDPR approach and processes.
4. The top 10 frequently asked questions from clients with the recommended approach with using their Eclipse Recruitment Manager 4 software.

Request your free GDPR eBook today.

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