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As anyone who has taken part in the recruiting process knows, it’s all too easy to get buried under an influx of not-so-qualified applicants, forcing you to spend countless hours screening resumes to identify that handful of candidates who merit interviews.

Lately, however, new advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have arrived to assist HR pros and recruiters in their efforts. Surveys show that as many as 96 percent of recruiters believe AI can “greatly enhance” hiring, and one of the most promising technologies in this regard is conversational AI.

Essentially, “conversational AI” refers to a set of technologies that allow AI applications to communicate like a human by recognizing text and speech, interpreting intent, and responding accordingly. You’ve likely encountered a conversational AI in your own life in the form of a chatbot.

While conversational AI is relatively new, companies are already starting to understand the value it represents. Here are just a few of the ways it can streamline hiring and employee engagement:

Screen Applicants Automatically

If you want to capture the attention of top talent, it is crucial to start building strong, engaging relationships with potential candidates as soon as they start the application process.

But this poses a problem: How can you build relationships with each and every candidate when you’re receiving hundreds of applications for every opening? It can sometimes take recruiters weeks to respond to applicants, and with every passing day, candidates are losing engagement and looking at opportunities elsewhere.

This is one situation in which conversational AI really shines. With conversational AI, organizations can start building relationships with candidates before they even submit an application. When a candidate navigates to a company’s career page, an AI-powered chat window can automatically engage them and start answering their questions right away.

Additionally, conversational AI can help recruiters more easily assess each applicant’s resume. Recruiters often have to sift through hundreds of applications to find the candidates with the right qualifications, but conversational AI can filter out many of the applicants who don’t meet the criteria. This frees up talent acquisition teams to focus their efforts on building authentic relationships with those candidates who are a possible fit for the position.

Using information gleaned from candidates’ resumes and chat conversations, conversational AI can make data-driven predictions about how well each applicant’s experiences and skills meet the company’s needs. By integrating conversational AI directly into the recruitment workflow, HR professionals can enable more human interactions between the company and every candidate, shepherding applicants through the process with very little action from the recruiters themselves.

Enhance the Employee Experience From End to End

Conversational AI has applications beyond recruiting. Consider, for example, how it can be used to enhance the employee experience.

Take the onboarding process: Once an employee is hired, HR teams need to collect information for payroll, benefits, and other administrative purposes. With conversational AI, this process can be considerably expedited by having the AI collect that information and answer new hires’ questions about onboarding. In this way, conversational AI can do a majority of the legwork for the HR team. Instead of an HR manager manually sending out documents, following up, answering questions, and chasing down important paperwork, the AI handles everything. HR teams can use the time they save to focus on more high-priority, high-value tasks, such as engaging new employees, setting goals, and getting recent hires acclimated to the company culture.

From the employee’s perspective, conversational AI can provide an even more personalized employee experience. At every step of an employee’s journey — from onboarding to departure — conversational AI is able to answer their questions and provide them with the information they need at any given point. And because conversational AI can save HR teams a significant amount of time, HR pros can invest more effort into creating meaningful experiences for employees. The needs of employees are constantly changing, and conversational AI can help HR teams gather the data — and time — they need to respond to employees’ desires properly.

Conversational AI can also help organizations better utilize data analytics to foresee potential employee problems and nip them in the bud. Conversational AI can be used to automatically track key metrics at both the individual and company-wide level, and it can perform analytic functions to extract useful insights from the data and share those insights with the HR team. With these insights, organizations can identify problems in the early stages and intervene before they become full-blown crises. For example, by monitoring retention trends, conversational AI can help HR teams forecast when employees might be getting ready to leave the company.

Even though it is still in its infancy, conversational AI has proven itself capable of helping HR teams work more efficiently and purposefully. Conversational AI is changing how HR professionals do their jobs. Is your company prepared?

Matt Thomas is the president of WorkSmart Systems, Inc.

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