Conversational AI: Transforming Talent Acquisition

In 2008, Jerome Ternynck announced the launch of a new ATS, SmartRecruiters. He shared his vision for the next era of talent acquisition technology and best-of-breed ATS providers. And, people were interested (including me). Jerome's last company, Mr. Ted, was a leading ATS acquired by Stepstone, and Jerome was a well-loved expert with a strong reputation in TA tech.
Conversational AI: Transforming Talent Acquisition

On Global TA Day, we want to highlight one of our favorite areas of TA tech today…conversational AI.

In 2020, Aptitude Research published a comprehensive study on conversational AI to understand key drivers, highlight differentiators, and outline the business impact of these solutions. One year later, the talent acquisition landscape has significantly changed. Companies are feeling intense pressure to improve efficiencies, identify quality hires, reduce bias, and humanize the overall experience for both recruiters and candidates. As companies look closely at talent acquisition technology to help lift the administrative burden of recruiting teams and engage with candidates in a more meaningful way, conversational AI checks every box.

Here are the top findings from our report.

Conversational AI Is Not a Point Solution: Companies are still learning the value that conversational AI brings to talent acquisition. Companies that have leveraged these solutions to improve the application or screening processes are already recognizing the impact it can have on areas such as interviewing, onboarding, and internal mobility. Conversational AI is shifting from a quick-fix, point solution to a critical component in an end-to-end talent acquisition strategy. Conversational AI, unlike chatbots, is not a point solution. The more companies adopt these solutions, the more they recognize the potential throughout talent acquisition, and see advancements in use cases.

Conversational AI Is an Intelligent Assistant: Companies often think that candidates do not want to engage with conversational AI. The reality is that individuals are very familiar with conversational AI in their consumer and personal lives. Siri, Alexa, and other assistants help individuals get answers and guidance, and have become a part of daily life. Similar assistance plays a critical role in talent acquisition, offering candidates a “support team” as they go through various stages of their journey.

The ATS and CRM Markets Can’t Compete: Despite several acquisitions and ongoing discussions about conversational AI in the ATS or CRM solutions, only 30% of companies are looking at their existing providers for conversational AI capabilities. Many ATS and CRM providers partner with conversational AI providers even when they have their own capabilities. Conversational AI      requires deep domain expertise and a commitment to continuing to innovate and enhance the capabilities and intelligence offered.

Conversational AI Is Still More Than a Chatbot: The 2020 Aptitude Research report outlined the differences between conversational AI and chatbots. But, the confusion around the two still persists today. Companies quickly understand the difference when they implement these solutions, but do not always see it during the evaluation phase. According to Aptitude Research, 84% of companies want more than a basic chatbot to support their talent acquisition efforts.  Companies are requiring conversational AI solutions that understand the context around recruiting processes versus basic UI changes from chatbot. They are looking for an intelligent assistant to help both their teams and candidates.

Conversational AI Is Completely Transforming High-Volume Recruiting: Conversational AI is becoming the standard in high-volume recruitment. Currently, 65% of companies have some high-volume recruitment needs that include hourly, gig, volume of hires, and number of applicants. Conversational AI gives these companies a competitive advantage, helping them to compete for talent, fill positions quickly, and improve quality of hire.  Companies are automating 90-95% of process, screening and scheduling in under three minutes, and hiring in two days.

Recruiters in Professional Hiring Also See Massive Benefits: Recruiters are bogged down every day with repetitive tasks that keep them from doing the work they enjoy and the work that impacts the business the most – finding and meeting with more talented people. Companies in centralized, professional recruiting organizations state that 72% of recruiters are more likely to stay at their current job with the use of conversational AI, largely because time spent on administrative tasks is reduced by 50%.

The Audience for Conversational AI Is Expanding to Employees: Most companies are familiar with the use of conversational AI to support sourcing, apply, and interview scheduling. But, the interest in this solution for onboarding and internal mobility has increased this year. Conversational AI is not only candidate-centric, it is people-centric. Nineteen percent (19%) of companies using conversational AI are leveraging these solutions in the new hire process and 12% in internal mobility. Remote recruiting is the primary driver for the increased demand in these areas. Most companies rely on their HRMS or ATS for onboarding capabilities, and while these solutions include workflows and forms compliance, they do little to enhance the new hire experience.


  • Madeline Laurano

    Madeline Laurano is the founder and chief analyst of Aptitude Research. For over 18 years, Madeline’s primary focus has been on the HCM market, specializing in talent acquisition and employee experience. Her work helps companies both validate and re-evaluate their strategies and understand the role technology can play in driving business outcomes. She has watched HCM transform from a back-office function to a strategic company initiative with a focus on partnerships, experience and efficiency. Before founding Aptitude Research, Madeline held research roles at Aberdeen, Bersin by Deloitte, ERE Media and Brandon Hall Group. She is the co-author of Best Practices in Leading a Global Workforce and is often quoted in leading business publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Yahoo News, The New York Times and The Financial Times. She is a frequent presenter at industry conferences including the HR Technology Conference and Exposition, SHRM, IHRIM, HCI’s Strategic Talent Acquisition Conference, Unleash, GDS International’s HCM Summit, and HRO Today. In her spare time, she is a runner, an avid sports fan and juggles a house full of boys (where a spontaneous indoor hockey game is not unheard of!).