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Pre-Screening Chatbot   | 16 Min Read

How AI-based HR Chatbots are Simplifying Pre-screening

Written By Megha Singh

Table of Contents

Introduction to Pre-Screening

Once organizations have sourced the prospects, next in line comes pre-screening which happens right before scheduling interviews and further evaluating the candidate. Pre-screening entails shortlisting candidates from a pool of resumes, in accordance with the role at hand. It also determines if the applicant has the qualifications needed to do the job for which the company is hiring.

The result of pre-screening decides if the candidate moves to the next round of the interview process. No matter how senior the position, using a pre-screening process gives employers an advantage and prepare them for the interviews ahead. Pre-screening is an important information-gathering tool. When done well, it can help flesh out what’s not on a resume.

Pre-screening also lets the job applicant understand the requirements of the position at hand. Sometimes, it’s the job applicant who decides in a pre-screening interview that he's not interested in a particular position. It provides an easy access to candidates to know the compensation package, benefits, nature of work or any additional information about the organization.

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Hence, this step in the recruitment process is very crucial. It can save a lot of time, filter the right candidates and get quality candidates on board.

 

The screening interview has a list of repetitive questions which the job applicants need to answer. It is aimed at figuring out whether the candidates have the required skillset, can relocate, know their salary expectations and answer any questions they might have.  Well executed pre-screening interviews effectively weed out candidates who are not the right fit before you bring them in for a more rigorous in-person interview.

Manual pre-screening is gradually becoming a talk of the past as automation continues to transform recruitment space. HR bots are simplifying one of the most time-consuming aspects of talent acquisition and increasingly incorporating analytics to make predictions about candidate fit and quality. We are entering a new evolution in this industry that is primarily driven by the use of AI to take the load off individual recruiters.

A well thought out pre-screening process enables you to:

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Challenges Faced by HRs In Pre-Screening

Pre-screening has become a time-consuming procedure for recruiters these days. The traditional recruitment process of executing the whole process has become outdated, keeping in mind the significant rise in job seekers and demand for high potential talent. This is so because, such a practice not only consumes the HR’s time in doing repetitive tasks that do not contribute towards hiring process improvement, but also distracts them from their most important tasks like- ensuring identification, selection, and onboarding quality talent.

Listed below are some of the major challenges faced by HRs in pre-screening round.

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Managing High Volumes

Organizations hire year long. However, having quality talent pool especially for bulk hiring becomes problematic. HRs in mid to large-size organizations do mass hiring which requires a lot of effort and time to manage thousands of applicants. Even before scheduling telephonic or in-person interviews, HRs need to gather information which may get missed out on resumes. This pre-screening process becomes difficult to manage as the large number of candidates who apply, either leave mid-way or back-out at the last moment.

Time-Consuming

The time required for pre-screening is an add on to scheduling and in-person interviews. In addition to managing multiple candidates simultaneously, HRs have their day-to-day KRAs and KPIs to fulfil. However, to gather necessary and repetitive information from the job applicants, HRs have to put in extra time to schedule and initiate conversations. This time can be used in fulfilling other important tasks.

Engaging the Right Candidates

At times, there are discrepancies in the job descriptions that companies roll out. This ends up attracting the wrong set of candidates whose skillset does not meet the job at hand. So, going through the hassle of asking the similar set of questions and not getting relevant responses is a pain for HRs when they realize that the candidates are not competent.

Challenges Faced by Candidates 

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Manual pre-screening not only comes out as a hassle for HRs, but also becomes challenging for candidates switching or applying for jobs. From the time of going through a job description and applying for a job, to getting shortlisted and waiting patiently for a pre-screening interview, candidates have a lot on their mind which remains unaddressed. Listed below are some of the challenges faced by job applicants:

Unavailability of HRs

The working hours of HRs are 9 to 5, which is also the time they spent in reaching out to applicants. However, the applicants may not always be available to take calls or be available during office hours. They find time to connect with the recruiters after they have clocked out. This gives rise to a mismatch in time and lack of coordination between HRs and applicants. The unavailability of either only lengthens the process.

Lack of Engagement

Anyone looking for a job has a number of things in his mind regarding the new organizations, its work culture, compensation structure, job responsibilities and more. But often what happens is that HRs fail to give adequate time to the applicants in lieu of their day-to-day tasks. Their queries remain unanswered, which is why they end up losing interest and leaving the application mid-way.

Poor Candidate Experience

Generally, HRs have candidate resume before making the pre-screening call. However, due to lack of time, HRs sometimes are unable to go through the resumes in detail and end up asking the information already mentioned. If there is a lack of detail on the company’s website regarding the job role, candidates wish to know in detail. If their resume does not match to the role, they have wasted their time and effort, leading to a poor candidate experience.

Since both HRs and job applicants face multiple issues before hiring, there is a dire need of a system that can be used effectively used to carry out pre-screening with little to no dependence on the HR, a system that substantially improves execution and candidate experience. One way to ensure continuous improvement and non-stagnation of hiring process efficiency is seeking help of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Even candidates are aware that the recruiting process might not be human-to-human at every step, but, they look for a change to receive information from whichever source possible.

Randstad found 82% of job seekers believe the ideal recruiter interaction is a mix between innovative technology and personal, human interaction.

Seeing a rise in the interest of job seekers as well, hiring departments are increasingly moving towards a hassle-free, time efficient and more engaging source in form of automation which not only solves the HR woes but also enhances candidate experience.

Adoption of Technology

Adoption_of_TechnologyScreening resumes and shortlisting candidates to interview is estimated to take 23 hours of a recruiter’s time for a single hire.

Traditionally pre-screening took up a lot of time as recruiters had to sift through hundreds of CVs to shortlist candidates for the following stages. Not only was this exercise extremely time-intensive, but it also didn’t guarantee a thorough and scientific search. However, digital transformation has brought with itself faster means of prescreening candidates with a click of a few buttons. With many tools using powerful forces of AI & ML, the time taken to gather and sort through hundreds of CVs has decreased immensely, ensuring that tech recruiters and decision makers get more time to engage with candidates.

Source: Tech Hiring & Technology Adoption Trends 2019

Technology adoption is significantly higher for large companies, owing to their scale and need to automate some of the manual tasks. This gap in technology adoption is due to varying budgets and resources.

Fortunately, technology is evolving at a rapid pace and there are a number of powerful tools that recruiters can use to streamline and speed up the process.The game-changer has been the evolution of AI-based chatbots.

Emergence of Chatbots

RITA-06Chatbots are essentially the evolution of automation. They not only perform repetitive manual tasks efficiently but also have the potential to transform the entire recruitment process by removing bias, thereby enhancing decision-making capabilities of the HR.

Sharing how recruitment chatbots are revolutionizing the tedious process of pre-screening, Teachie’s Recruitment Marketing Automater Adam Chambers says, “The recruitment chatbot ensures they're qualified conversationally: that means no unqualified applicants can apply.” Using AI-based chatbot helps HR professionals focus on high-end tasks. This implies that interview calls would now be intended to learn about the prospect’s personality rather than just their college or salary expectations.

According to an upcoming HubSpot research report, of the 71% of people willing to use messaging apps to get customer assistance, many do it because they want their problem solved, fast.

Job applicants prefer self-service. No longer are they prepared to wait weeks, days, hours or even minutes for an employer to help them. They need their questions answered at the earliest.

RITA-15“With textual AI-based chatbots and automated scheduling, pre-screening is becoming a common solution in the recruitment automation process. If a candidate passes the pre-screening, the chatbot can automate the next steps in the candidate journey, such as automatically schedule the candidate for a recruiter follow, or interview. This automated process helps save recruiters and hiring managers hours each week. In addition, it speeds the recruiting process, providing job seekers with great candidate experience. Job seekers who are qualified are automatically moved to the next step. There is no waiting for a human to move the candidate to the next step.”

                                                                              -Jonathan Duarte
                                                                              GoHire Founder

How Chatbots Solve Pre-screening Challenges

Chatbots help in screening candidates faster due to their human-like conversational experience. Chatbots have gone the extra mile to solve not only the issues faced by candidates but HRs too. The developers have used AI in designing bots in a way that they can replicate an HRs job, thus saving a lot of time which HRs can utilize in completing their day-to-day work. Similarly, it works as a boon for candidates who no longer have to wait for phone calls to get any job-related updates. This is how chatbots have made lives easier:

1. Easy Configuration

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Chatbots have an existing knowledge database of questions which get updated as per organizational requirements. At this stage, questions are easily configured to collect the required data from job applicants. HR departments can enter the information about the role and other details that job applicants may find useful.

2. Participant Invitation

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AI-based chatbots enable HRs to invite candidates individually or also provides the functionality to handle bulk candidate data. Additionally, bots allow you to customize the e-mails as per different job roles and candidates. Chatbots are evolving in a manner that they can easily handle bulk information, thus reducing a lot of manual hassle.

3. Data Collection

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Chatbots offer a great candidate experience due to their ease of use. Since they are mobile-friendly, candidates can talk to the bot on-the-go. The two-way conversation allows candidates to resolve their queries too. Responses are auto-saved which means applicants can pause the conversation and resume from where they left.

4. Candidate Screening

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Data gets updated on the platform in real-time as the conversation continues.  HRs can access this data on a neat dashboard where the date and time of messages and the transcript of the conversation is available. HRs can now filter candidates based on their responses.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Bots

Investing in AI & ML improves the quality of applicants as well as shortlisted candidates, optimizes the recruitment process for time and cost, and ensures a better experience for candidates. It also helps in combating unconscious bias and promotes inclusivity and diversity. An intelligent chatbot is the answer to the complexities involved in pre-screening process.

It solves your time versus quality dilemma by sorting the good from the disqualified resumes in a fast and efficient manner, thereby significantly reducing the time spent by tech recruiters in going through every resume.

Time-to-hire is a critical metric to measure the success of your recruitment, and the use of AI in pre-screening significantly expedites the shortlisting process and reduces the time-to-hire. AI helps recruiters analyze big data and put logical filters to target relevant candidates within a few clicks. It gives tech recruiters the time to engage with candidates, that was earlier devoted to manual sorting of resumes. The use of ATS and AI tools decreases the time to- hire, thus resulting in a 69% success rate.

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Source: Tech Hiring & Technology Adoption Trends 2019

RITA-15“When I was a full-time senior recruiter, searching for keywords in the resumes were vital - before even reading through the actual resumes…What I would do is create pre-qualifying questions that often allowed the AI in the system to auto-reject those who didn’t pass the questionnaire. Using this system, I would often be able to identify ‘perfect’ candidates…Too often, recruiters don’t know how to set it up correctly to be able to reduce their manual labor of reading all those resumes.

                                                                           -D Bowler Consulting
                                                                            PhD, CEO 

Benefits of Automation in HR Processes

RITA-15With text-based chatbots and automated scheduling, pre-screening is becoming a common solution in the recruitment automation process. If a candidate passes the pre-screening, the chatbot can automate the next steps in the candidate journey, such as automatically schedule the candidate for a recruiter to follow, or interview. This automated process helps save recruiters and hiring managers hours each week. In addition, it speeds the recruiting process, providing job seekers with great candidate experience. Job seekers who are qualified are automatically moved to the next step without human intervention.

                                                                         -Jonathan Duarte,
                                                                          Founder, GoHire.com

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The Road to Digital Transformation: Expert Opinion

RITA-09This cutting-edge technology is taking businesses by storm. The intuitive messaging app interface makes it easier for applicants to communicate with the bot. AI smartly ask questions and take down all details required by HRs for a telephonic or in-person interview.

AI & ML will continue to evolve over the next few years and its impact on corporates will be humongous considering the increased usage across industries. Experts across the world are in unison when it comes to vouching for the effectiveness and industry adoption of chatbots in pre-screening and other areas.

According to Christi Olson, Head of Evangelism for Search at Bing, chatbots of the future don’t just respond to questions, they talk and think. They draw insights from knowledge graphs and forge emotional relationships with customers.

Bryq Co-founder & CEO Markellos Diorinos feels that HRs are unable to keep up with today’s non-linear career development which is why pre-screening bots are becoming an indispensable tool for both HR departments and hiring managers in locating the talent they require. Diorinos believes that combining big data methods with proven scientific methods will be the next wave before AI algorithms are mature enough to offer viable solutions.

After months of learning Artificial Intelligence modeling tools and how to leverage cloud-based cognitive services, Rattlehub Digital Head of Technology Innovation and Security James Melvin is absolutely convinced that Conversation as a Service (CaaS) is the future.

Digital transformation is changing HR processes in a manner that they are becoming more streamlined, time-efficient engaging and productive.

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We might still be in the early stages of bot revolution. Sharing his views on what future holds for pre-screening, TSC General Manager Americas Gordon White says, We are still in the early days of chatbots but there are some interesting things to watch. Voice, as a share of user input will proliferate. Data security will continue to grow in importance. Eventually, we’ll see consolidation of platforms and mainlining of robots into even larger platforms to become core functionality.”

Emphasizing on the importance of updating resumes, Graffersid Founder & CEO Sidharth Jain says that it is not possible to put all projects on CVs. If someone does not possess good writing skills, it does not imply that they lack domain knowledge. This is where AI will play an important role.

  “The world is moving towards a more automated approach where bots are able to analyze video resumes, gather the missing information and filter resumes to come up with the most suitable candidate, he adds.

Conclusion

AI innovation is transforming how HR managers view, select, and operate candidate screening software. The benefits of this are manifold; recruiters don’t have to sift through crowded job markets or endless candidate lists. Applicants are automatically shortlisted and hiring teams need only allocate strategic efforts to aid Level 2 screening (with up to 83% more accuracy, reports Vervoe). This helps create a more equitable hiring process while still determining which candidates are the best fit.

The Mercer | Mettl Way

In numerous ideation sessions with our existing customers and industry experts, time spent on screening job applicants emerged as the biggest pain point for HRs.  To solve this manual, time-consuming and repetitive process, Mercer | Mettl research team has come up with RITA, a pre-screening chatbot that aims at automating the pre-screening process.

          Screen Candidates Faster With The Power Of AI

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What’s in For HRs

  •       Faster Screening of Candidates
  •       Real-time Data Collection
  •       Instant Bulk Data Upload
  •       Complete Customization 

What’s in For Prospects?

  •       Human-like Conversation
  •       24/7 Availability
  •       Mobile First
  •       Auto-save Responses

Topics: Pre-Screening Chatbot

Originally published September 12 2019,updated October 12 2019

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