Your candidate experience can make or break your company’s ability to hire talent, both for the candidates applying to you today and for your future reputation too, yet it is still something that a lot of companies are neglecting in their hiring strategies. As with most aspects of recruitment, advancements in technology have led to several changes in approach, from updating careers websites and implementing applicant tracking systems, technology is helping us to create a better process for companies looking to on board talent. For some companies, this includes the introduction of Chatbots which got us thinking about whether this is a positive step for recruitment or not? If you are on the fence about Chatbots and their place in the candidate experience, then check out some of these pros and cons to implementing them:

The candidate experience pros and cons of Chatbots

Pro: It allows 24/7 support 365 days a year

A well programmed Chatbot has the ability to interact with and respond to a whole variety of candidate questions, with instant replies no matter what time the candidate is on your website. Simple questions such as “Does this vacancy accept Visa sponsorship” or “What are your usual hours of work” can be answered instantly, without the candidate having to wait for a reply from a member of your team at the evenings or weekends. While it’s unlikely that a Chatbot can answer every query a candidate has, it can make the difference between a candidate choosing to submit an application to you or not depending on the instant responses and information they receive.

Con: They can be overly basic in the questions they can answer

24/7 responses are great, but if the Chatbot is overly basic then the responses can simply infuriate potential candidates before they have had the chance to apply for a role. In order for these to work well you will need to get together with your team and create a comprehensive list of FAQ’s and information to help inform the behaviours and responses of your Chatbot. For the questions that cannot be answered, a clear call to action should be available and ideally a route to contact someone who works for you who is able to reply.

Pro: It can be a real time saver for volume roles

If you are advertising for a high volume role, you might find that you get so many responses that it takes you really long to review all applications, and as a result struggle to get back to every candidate unless they are successful for an interview. Not getting back to candidates who apply is a big candidate experience faux pas, so Chatbot’s can be extremely useful for filtering down candidate eligibility before they submit an application, meaning you are more likely to receive a more manageable amount of applications to review. Your Chatbot can ask pre-sreening questions such as “Do you have the right to work in the UK?” or “Do you have at least 3 years’ experience working in PHP Development”? and if the answer is no the Chatbot can let the candidate down gently and avoid you receiving an unsuitable CV!

Con: It’s not human and there’s no personal touch

Recruitment is a people led industry, if you have great people looking after recruitment who go the extra mile and genuinely care about the candidates then you will have better success attracting talent, because people buy into people. With this theory in mind, and knowing that the “personal touch” can have an amazing impact on candidate experience, the question is - do you want your candidate experience to kick-off with a Chatbot delivering generic interactions / questions? It’s something that you will need to consider and we would advise you carry out some internal research to see how this will work. For example you might choose to “switch-on” a Chatbot for lower level / volume job roles but encourage candidates to contact an individual for more senior / harder-to-fill positions. Every organisation is different so you will need to find a solution that works for you.

Pro: Candidate experience is about more than the application

One of the main error’s companies make with candidate experience is that they plow all their efforts into getting candidates to apply and then forget to nurture what happens next! Failure to keep in touch with a candidate during the interview stage and even between offering them a role and starting a job can cause candidates to drop out and become disinterested, so it’s vital that you focus on these areas of the candidate experience too. A Chatbot integrated within an applicant tracking system can plug these gaps and provide the much-needed interactions after interviews (e.g. collecting feedback and gathering availability for future interviews etc.) and before the employee starts (e.g. sending useful information before their start date). Try and map out the candidate experience from application to the end of the employee’s probation and discover how a Chatbot could enhance this at various touchpoints.

Con: Some people simply don’t like Chatbots

Remember the days where you would be typing something on Microsoft Word, and then all of a sudden, the irritating paperclip with condescending advice would emerge and disrupt what you are doing? We are referring to “Clippy”, Microsoft’s virtual assistant that was despised by many users (and unsurprisingly died a death in 2008). Sometimes we just don’t want to be interrupted when we are online, so over-eager pop ups and unnecessary Chatbot’s can be a big turn off for candidates. If you do decide to go ahead with Chatbot’s on your careers site, then make sure that they are there as an option, and easy to mute for those that aren’t that way inclined.

Looking for some extra advice on your candidate experience? You might want to check out our blog on “Crafting a standout candidate experience” and “How to transform your company’s candidate experience in seven days”.

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