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Conversational AI
4 min read
February 17, 2023

More than a chatbot: Conversational AI should let people be people.

Advances in AI mean fundamental changes to how we use the technology. Olivia, the conversational AI platform for job-seekers, elevates the candidate experience by enabling people to focus on the work they do best.

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Does anybody love a chatbot? 

Anyone?

For years, a “chatbot” was rarely a go-to solution for consumers. Loyal to a…chatbot? That simply wasn’t part of the narrative.

The debut of ChatGPT has changed the landscape. Swiftly, the era of yesterday’s chatbot has ended. A golden age of AI is emerging, with solutions that are less “bot” and more human. Moving forward, the best uses of AI will be seamlessly integrated into routine tasks rather than attracting attention as novel one-offs.

The technology  – and how it’s used – has come a long way. Up to this point, the idea of a “chatbot” has earned a lukewarm response at best. Analysts even proposed that “chatbot fatigue” was underway as early as 2019: a study found that when participants inquired with a text-based messaging service for customer support, 86% preferred to interact with a human, and just 4% preferred AI. 

This is exactly why Paradox didn’t set out to build another chatbot.

Our goal wasn’t simply to “build a better mousetrap” either, as the saying goes. Instead, we wanted to fundamentally rethink the way job-seekers navigate their journeys. Our goal: create technology that enhances human talents and then gets out of the way; a conversational assistant, as we call it. 

Let’s take a closer look at how we’ve done just that. 

The “why” makes a difference.

To start, recall that more than 8 in 10 study participants would choose human interactions over AI. It turns out there was more to learn from this survey. Folks were almost twice as likely to select chat if their main objective was to resolve a quick question (29%) than to dive into a complex inquiry (16%). 

That latter finding suggests that the reason a person has for engaging with a chatbot shapes their responses to it. Relatedly, an analysis from Google found that user attitudes depended on what the chatbot is replacing. In other words, the “old way” matters. When the chatbot takes the place of a process that is often time consuming or tedious, like making a phone call that begins with 15 minutes or more on hold, the always-on aspect of a chatbot is relatively welcome.

What about uses for chatbots outside of customer service? That brings us to the role of chatbots in hiring, a growing component of talent acquisition. Given what we just learned about the “old way,” consider first what the job application process often looks like for job-seekers. For those applying for several positions at a time, it’s a sea of usernames and passwords, lists of job qualifications that all run together, and no easy route to getting a question answered. The process is also not known for speed or efficiency, and there’s a troubling trend: employers are increasingly skipping common courtesy. According to Glassdoor Economic Research, reports of candidates being ghosted during the hiring process are on the rise, steadily increasing month by month since early 2019. 

Dear job-seeker: Meet your personal guide.

How can a chatbot enhance the candidate experience? One clue comes from a 2022 study, in which participants chatted with human employees or with bots. The researchers found that the human vs. machine aspect mattered less than the perception of humanness. The higher the humanness, even if it was delivered by AI, the more trust the participant had in the organization. 

Given what we’ve learned, a chatbot in the HR tech stack should be thought of as a platform that gives a candidate their own helpful guide through the process. It should deliver a conversational experience that looks the way today’s social interactions are structured. For many people, chat is a way to achieve numerous social objectives, from arranging where to meet a friend to cheering up a troubled pal. So in the hiring process, a good “chatbot” is the medium, and the true value comes from never again boxing candidates out. With responsive conversational AI software, the candidate can initiate next steps on their own time, enjoy continuity from the beginning to the end of the process (and post-hire as well), and become “unghostable.” 

 

Are the humans here, too?

While these benefits can be exciting, leaders in talent acquisition must be mindful of human wariness of the growing footprint of AI. Research reported last year by the Pew Research Center found that far more people (37%) agreed that they are “more concerned than excited” about the increased use of AI in daily life than those who said the opposite (18%). Indeed, the extent of AI poses an important question for decision-makers, and popular opinion may eventually identify limits on its use. The keystone may lie in “knowing when to say when.” 

The most forward-thinking products don’t replace human interaction, they facilitate it. By speeding up the basics in the hiring process, a well-designed AI communication platform acts as a liaison, first guiding the candidate through the process and then introducing the candidate to the human hiring manager. The technology saves time by educating job-seekers, collecting needed information, and learning about the candidate and what else they offer beyond work history and education. 

With candidates screened and an interview scheduled, it’s time for the human-to-human connection that is still fundamental to who we are, and always will be. An assistant like Olivia becomes much more than a chatbot. It’s a first impression, an information hub, your favorite office manager greeting you at the front desk. It’s technology that helps humans do what they do best — be human. 

Written by
Dr. Rachel Stewart Johnson
,
Psychologist
Dr. Rachel Stewart Johnson
Written by
,

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