A Chatbot to Handle (and Respond to) Your Job Applicants

A Chatbot to Handle (and Respond to) Your Job Applicants

Candidates may not like getting turned down for jobs, but what really bugs them is when employers don’t respond to their applications at all, as Sarah Fister Gale points out at Workforce:

A recent study from Future Workplace and CareerArc found nearly 60 percent of job seekers have had a poor candidate experience, and of those 72 percent shared that experience on an employer review site, social networking site or with colleagues and friends. This trend should be concerning to a lot of recruiters. … Recruiters may also be surprised to hear what constitutes a negative experience, says Kirsten Davidson, head of employer brand for Glassdoor Inc., the employer review site. It isn’t caused by aggressive interview tactics, or frustrating background check processes. “Most negative reviews come from people who just never heard back,” she said.

And it happens far too often. A whopping 65 percent of job seekers in the Future Workplace survey said they never or rarely receive notice from employers when they submit applications. Similarly, in CareerBuilder’s report job seekers said their biggest frustration is when employers don’t respond to them. “Candidates invest a lot of time preparing an application, yet they feel like the company is investing nothing in response,” [Future Workplace research director Dan] Schawbel said. “That sends a bad message about the company.”

Of course, when recruiters have hundreds or thousands of applications to juggle, responding to every rejected candidate is often too time-consuming, at least without technological assistance. Mya, a digital recruiting assistant released this week by HR technology company FirstJob, was designed in part with that problem in mind, Lydia Dishman reports for Fast Company:

The artificially intelligent recruiting assistant is a chatbot that communicates directly with applicants looking for tech jobs via text, email, or through its own chat platform. …

[FirstJob cofounder and CEO Eyal] Grayevsky says Mya is a natural outgrowth of FirstJob’s efforts to connect qualified candidates with recruiters. By automating up to 75% of the application process, recruiters are able to cut down on the time spent reviewing what Grayevsky estimates to be “tens of thousands” of applications, and more time conducting interviews and making offers. For candidates chatting with Mya, their conversations are logged and followed up on. Mya sends them updates, offers guidance to candidates, and alerts them if the job has been filled.

The way it works is straightforward. Job seekers log in to the platform and view available jobs. They select from open positions that have detailed descriptions as well as keywords corresponding to skills required. After filling out a short application (name, address, etc.) Mya (depicted by a blue smiley face avatar) introduces herself and says she’d like to ask some additional questions. “It should only take about 15 minutes and will improve your chances of getting hired,” she writes.

Based on the candidate’s qualifications and the job requirements, Mya asks for more detailed information about experience. “How much experience do you have with MySQL database?” for example. The applicant then has a chance to expand on their qualifications as well as ask any questions they might have for the employer. Mya is able to pinpoint skills that the candidate might be missing and asks them to make a case why they should still be considered for the job, This, says Grayevsky, gives the job seeker an opportunity to showcase their strengths much the way they would in an in-person interview.

In private beta testing, Grayevsky reveals to Dishman, the Mya platform improved recruiter efficiency by 38 percent and increased candidate engagement by over 150 percent, in addition to making candidates a full three times more likely to hear back from a recruiter if they answered Mya’s questions.

Forbes contributor Louis Efron asks Grayevsky the question at the back of every recruiter’s mind:

[G]iven Mya’s considerable smarts and ability to learn, I couldn’t resist asking her creator: “Considering Mya’s learning capabilities, will she ever be able to reject a candidate on her own?”

“Right now our goal was to create a fully-automated recruitment assistant. A recruiter must stay involved. Our long-term vision is to develop Mya into a fully automated recruiter,” Grayevsky concluded. So—not for now. But that’s probably for the best, because the best-fit candidates come when a hiring manager, HR, and the immediate work team all cooperate to find a good match.