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Why Your Recruitment Chatbot Needs a Personality

How to use AI and conversation design to communicate your employer brand’s unique personality to candidates

 

In the age of big data, some recruiters have turned to chatbots to handle the overwhelming volume of candidates coming in from all channels. Once taught how to behave, a chatbot can be the perfect digital assistant to handle every day tasks such as responding to questions (always in real-time), informing candidates on the next step in the recruitment process and finding new ways to keep them engaged. To handle the high-volume, low-value tasks, a chatbot is a recruiter’s best friend.

 

The adoption from candidates appears to be just as strong. In a recent study, 58% of candidates said they are comfortable interacting with a chatbot during the initial stages of the application process. Today, it is estimated that there are 300,000 chatbots on Messenger alone. In fact, the chatbot market size is set to exceed USD 1.34 billion by 2024 according to the latest research. It’s clear that chatbots are here to stay, which begs the question: how can your chatbot stand out from the competition?

 

 

A need for personalized experiences

Every chatbot has a voice — and therefore, should have a personality. As humans, we’re hardwired to project human traits onto everything, so whether businesses like it or not, candidates will still assign a personality to your bot even if you have purposely designed one.

As humans, we’re hardwired to project human traits onto everything, even killer lamps.

 

As the Product Manager for conversational interfaces at Talkpush, my job is to make sure our growing army of recruitment chatbots are not only functional, but also in line with our customer’s brand and personality. We work with a variety of high volume employers, fast food retail chains, hotels, call centers, banks, each with a very distinct brand and “voice”.

To adapt to our customers’ brands, we offer them to choose from a series of “persona bots” designed with a particular set of personality traits in mind. Through machine learning, we train our persona bots to respond in a unique way, depending on their personality. For example, an efficient and goal-oriented recruiter like Stan likes to get straight to the point when communicating, answering candidate inquiries in a professional and detailed manner.

While a Type-A personality like Tanya would welcome candidates with a big thumbs up and a big smile, motivating candidates to apply for a job.

For bubbly and humorous Jay, job applications should be light-hearted and fun and responds with GIFs, abbreviations, and memes that resonate with a millennial audience.

Lia, a natural caretaker, responds with open ended questions encouraging her candidates to open up while she patiently waits and listens.

Lia’s personality makes her an excellent fit for assessing candidates’ cultural fit

More than just a face

We created detailed ‘resumes’ for each personality of these chatbots, using some of the key concepts of the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator — a self-report inventory designed to identify each bot’s personality type, strengths, and preferences.

Sample bot resume of Jay bot, designed as an ESFP personality type

For each persona, our designers assigned a specific personality type based on this research, complete with a bio, motivators, and visual references. We asked ourselves: if this bot was human how would his/her desk look like? Would the bot be more likely to use more emojis or GIFs? Does the bot prefer “I” and “me” to “us” and “we”? Would they greet candidates by saying, “Hey” or ‘Hi there” or “Hello, nice to meet you?”

 

It’s not news that the words we use and how we converse indicate the types of personalities we have. For instance, an extroverted recruiter like Tanya or Jay is more likely to use words like “Awesome” and add exclamation points to show excitement, while a more reserved virtual recruiter like Lia with an INFJ personality will tend to respond with longer text answers, adding full stops at the end of most sentences.

 

More than just avatars and names, it’s these subtle differences in microcopy that really showcase the bot’s personality and differentiate the candidate experience. Too often, we see businesses giving their bot a name, adding an avatar and calling it a day. But doing so without any investment in the bot’s personality is simply not enough anymore.

As the chatbot landscape matures and candidates become more aware, businesses need to invest in conversational strategies to truly differentiate their candidates’ experience and leverage the growing potential of AI powered chatbots.

 

Persona Bots Done Right

From our experience, the best bot experiences are the ones that have strong brand voice and serve as an extension of current marketing campaigns.

For example, Transcom, a leading customer service solution provider, has done an outstanding job of revamping their generic recruitment chatbot and introducing a fully-customized personality, tailored to their brand. Transcom already had a strong recruitment marketing identity and a recognized mascot in place, called Ces, so it was only natural to digitize that into a personality when redesigning their recruitment chatbot.

 

To begin, a detailed questionnaire was given to their recruitment team to help us understand their company’s target audience, image, and “tone of voice” to make sure Ces bot was a true embodiment of all those values. Then a workshop was conducted to brainstorm ways on how to convey that “Transcom” feel into the candidate-chatbot exchange.

After Ces 2.0 was rolled out, Transcom saw their average interview completion rate rise from 51.6% to 70.7%. Their average sentiment score, which is calculated at a message level, rose by 300% from 0.04 to 0.16 in that first week alone!

In that same week, their bot’s self-service rate — the bot’s ability to respond to inquiries in real-time — increased by 10%. Today, after continuous training, Transcom’s Ces bot automatically responds to 98.5% of all inquiries received.

Having a distinct personality for Ces not only engaged candidates, but also encouraged them to complete an interview faster than ever. From a mere 20% of all candidates who started an automated interview on Messenger, today an average of 90% complete an interview in less than 5 minutes. That’s a whopping 70% increase from their generic bot to the persona bot!

Not only did the number of conversations during that period rise by 40%, but candidates would frequently profess their amazement of the chatbot in their messages, typing in things like “wow”, sending heart emojis, and telling Ces things like “you’ve inspired me to apply”. When asked to rate their application experience, 98% candidates gave it a perfect score, rating their experience as “Great.”

Takeaways

Chatbots with personality help to boost an employer’s image, and create an application’ experience feel friendlier, faster as candidates benefit from a self-service technology. The result is a positive and interactive experience and has huge potential for positive word of mouth among your talent pool.

In a competitive job market where candidates can apply to multiple jobs at the click of a button, you have to make the most out of every interaction and turn it into a conversation. Whether the interface is a chatbot, landing page, or job advertisement, the words used are what can make or break an applicant’s experience. Companies like Transcom recognize the importance of this and have invested heavily in their brand across all channels to ensure a cohesive candidate experience.


All brands have a story to tell. By personalizing chatbots, employers can provide candidates with what feels like an organic, authentic conversation.

Chatbots won’t ever replace the one-on-one experience offered by your recruitment team and, honestly, we like it that way. Recruitment is still a social activity. What chatbots can do is help and accompany humans throughout the hiring process. There’s nothing artificial about that.

 

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