Will chatbots replace IT-recruiters?
In September 2015, BBC wrote an article on the likelihood that your job would be automated in the next 2 decades.
Luckily (or not), the Recruiter job was not listed.
And though Dominique Dejonghe thinks that the Recruiter job will not be fully at risk the coming 20 years, he's pretty sure the function will change a lot in the coming years through chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI).
Dominique Dejonghe is a psychologist and experienced change manager, always looking for innovation in technology that helps optimising processes for clients and their customers. With more than 20 years experience in Recruitment, HR and Customer Experience, he helps big companies to change and not to become irrelevant. And nowadays chatbots are his passion.
This article reflects not only his view on the role of chatbots in recruitment but also expands on the opinion of our HR Director Joke Goedeweeck. Joke has over 10 years of HR experience. Since 2015, she's working as an HR Director at AUSY Belgium, where she's in charge of the HR and recruitment team. If you ask her, chatbots come with a lot of benefits. But when it comes to using chatbots for recruitment, she dares to be critical. The recruitment team adopts a personal approach and puts quality over quantity.
Dominique: "I used to be a recruiter myself some 20 years ago. For sure the function has changed a lot with the internet the last 20 years. I remember searching highly-skilled Natural Language Processing experts for the defunct Lernout & Hauspie by using the internet and how this opened a pool of new candidates. Now everyone is on LinkedIn. That allows recruiters to spot candidates that are harder to find."
Apps are making way for messaging apps
"Today, we are witnessing a second significant evolution that I think will without a doubt affect the job of recruiters. We're moving from the computer to mobile. And even on the mobile, we are currently moving from apps to messaging apps."
"I have 3 daughters, and they literally live on Messenger where they converse with their friends all day long. Always available, this creates big opportunities for Recruiters."
"People like to chat, that’s why the major tool of headhunters was (and still is I think) the phone. I remember creating interest and engagement with candidates over the phone and trying to seduce them to a new job."
"Now, and the next 5 years, will be an opportunity for Recruiters to swap that phone to the messaging app. If they do not do this, they will have to face a lot of challenges."
"Let me show you what I mean. But first, let me explain what chatbots are and what makes them so powerful."
Chatbots can screen candidates in advance
"A chatbot is a computer program designed to simulate conversations with human users, especially over the Internet. They live on messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, KIK, WeChat, Skype, Telegram, and Slack."
"Messaging is hot: Facebook counts more than 1 billion people active monthly users on their platform. Chatbots automate these conversations so you can engage 24/7 with your candidate."
"Getting into the pocket of your candidate through messaging is a smart move if you do it the right way. And that's by starting interesting conversations through a chatbot. Then chatbots can prescreen candidates, create engagement and work in collaboration with the Recruiter."
"So will chatbots take over the jobs of recruiters?"
"They definitely will change the job of the recruiter, and if recruiters do not take action now, they will become irrelevant. But if they start using chatbots as a companion like their phone, they might stay in control and become better recruiters."
"So I’m curious which recruitment and selection company will develop the first recruiting chatbot. It's also possible that chatbot companies like impress.ai will take over. Then the recruitment sector will have to compete against technology companies that create chatbots. And if you ask me, candidates will start using their CV bots. Check for example my cv bot."
Joke: "The popularity of messaging apps is undeniable. However, I believe that we have to be cautious. Can we state today that users of apps like Messenger no longer discriminate between their work and personal life? In other words: is it true that we don't distinguish between chatbots that show us the best sunglasses or cheapest plane tickets and chatbots that guide us through a first selection procedure?"
"Maybe we don't. But in my opinion, we can't just assume that the large popularity implies that every target group, especially rare and wanted IT profiles, are open for something that might be seen as again an extra communication channel."
Current approach is working
"I absolutely agree that chatbots can automate and ease the recruitment process. Depending on the policy of your agency, chatbots can be the way to go. Large companies that are flooded with resumes and application letters, and that are processing on a large scale, will benefit from chatbots."
"Then why aren't we (yet) using chatbots? We devote a lot of time to our recruitment process. From the start, we go with a very personal approach. And that approach is appreciated: because of who we are, candidates would love to start working for us."
"I believe that this approach allows us to stand out on the market. And we have no choice but to distinguish ourselves since IT profiles are hard to find. So far, it feels like this personal approach is working and is helping us to attract the best IT profiles."
Personal approach: does the candidate matches our corporate culture?
"On different moments during the recruitment process, we take the time to get in touch with our candidates, through the phone, face to face, or possibly through messaging apps. That way, we really get to know our candidates. And that's important to us because it helps us to decide whether or not someone matches the corporate culture of AUSY. That's important for the candidate as well: we want him or her to feel at home."
"It's not just about what candidates say, but also about how they say it. Someone can be very nervous during a first job interview, but feel more at ease and impress us during a next interview."
"It's also possible that, in a later stage of the selection process, candidates adopt a less positive or even arrogant attitude. In some cases, you just can't underestimate the power of body language."
"Anyway, to conclude, I definitely think that the recruitment process can benefit from chatbots. But as a recruitment team, you have to carefully weigh the pros and cons and decide if your company is ready to start using chatbots. Instead of completely automate our recruitment process, we stick to our personal approach. Never change a winning team - or at least not yet. It's a given that in the future, we will automate parts of the recruitment process."