If you have been on the job market or are searching for the right candidate for your company, you have probably heard some version of the ever-so-clever phrase: "Looking for a job is a job in itself!"
Recruitment can be a slow, laborious and expensive process; according to Glassdoor, the average US company spends almost two months and $4,000 hiring a new employee.
Aida Fazylova believes she has found the solution: Get AI to do the legwork and cut inefficiency across the board.
This was her goal when she co-founded XOR, an AI-powered recruitment chatbot, in 2016. In the last 18 months it has grown to work with 121 customers in 15 countries, including McDonald's, Ikea and a number of luxury retailers, serving 2.5 million candidates so far.
XOR's chatbot works all day, every day and can handle basic questions such as: "What is your benefits package?" or "is there a dress code?" It pre-screens candidates by checking whether they have the correct qualifications, enough experience or can work in the country. It then schedules the first stage interviews – all within three-to-five minutes. For comparison, this process normally takes a human two weeks.
Fazylova got the idea when she was working in recruitment herself.
"I used to work as one of the top recruiters for a well-known European brand," she tells us. "And 60% of my working hours went toward administrative, repetitive tasks." As much as 95% of the CVs sent to recruiters every single day will not be relevant and sifting through these uses up valuable time, often blocking up the time to provide feedback to applicants.
The traditional system is as frustrating for job applicants as recruiters.
"Instead of focusing on the routine jobs that robots can take care of 24/7, humans will focus on motivating people, on selling the job, on meeting them in person to make sure it's a fit."
"Job application forms can be very complicated, with applications taking anywhere between 20 minutes to a couple of hours," Fazylova says. This is in addition to applications often not being user- or mobile-friendly.
"As a result, an average of 60% of applicants will drop off during the process," notes Fazylova. And 65% of applicants will never receive feedback or even hear back at all.
A chatbot can also provide a much more satisfactory experience than a recruiter can.
"With our chatbot, 93.3% said they had an excellent experience and 6% described it as good," Fazylova says. Because a chatbot is available 24/7, it is much more convenient for job hunters who tend to be looking for new roles outside of work hours. Because they do not get burnt out by hordes of paperwork, they can deliver a unique, personal experience to every single applicant. Because they are AI, they can respond immediately – and today people want to be served immediately.
"Plus, no one, especially not the Gen Z'ers currently entering the job market, wants to talk to anyone on the phone, they just want the job done immediately," she reflects.
XOR has found that its chatbot is so effective that people seem to forget it is not a human recruiter.
"Something very interesting has started happening" Fazylova explains. "Even though the applicants know that it's a robot, they get engrossed in the conversation, often asking questions like: What's the meaning of life? What's the meaning of love? – those sorts of silly questions, and it has small talk functionality so it can address these questions as well. That way it's a more personable service."
XOR bases the success of its chatbot on three metrics.
"The first is time to hire. Today it takes 42 days to hire someone on average and we on average lower this time by 33%," explains Fazylova. "The second metric is cost per hire. The chatbot increases efficiency, both in time and money. For this we look at conversion rate and since conversations with the chatbots are natural and easy this increases by 85%, on average, as well as attracting more candidates to the pipeline. This cuts the cost per hire in half." The third metric is how enhanced the customer experience and perception of a company's HR brand are.
Chatbots are particularly popular with young people, with Gen Z'ers need for instant gratification often cited as the reason for this. What does Fazylova think it is that makes young people so comfortable speaking with them?
"You can't expect Gen Z'ers to fill out forms and wait for ages, because it's in their psychology to want feedback straight away. You'll simply have a low employment rate if you don't capture them fast enough. The massive penetration of mobile phones also means that text communication is very natural to them," she explains.
"The funny thing is, the first customer we ever signed was the largest retailer in Eastern Europe and their applicant demographics are people in their 40s and 50s – cashiers, truck drivers, that sort of thing. And they actually adopted the technology so well that we were shocked," she confesses.
Then we reach the crux of the matter, the fear that keeps recruiters awake at night: Since chatbots have such higher satisfaction levels than humans, will there be a future where we do not need human recruiters at all?
"The role of the recruiter will change when they set up AI systems working for their candidates, but I'm pretty sure there is still going to be a place for humans," says Fazylova. "Instead of focusing on the routine jobs that robots can take care of 24/7, humans will focus on motivating people, on selling the job, on meeting them in person to make sure it's a fit."
If anything, an AI-enabled future means recruiters will enjoy their jobs much more. And, with AI cutting out the exhausting admin, they will instead get to spend their time doing more of what they love: Working with the people behind the CV