Buying a Recruiting Bot? Read this first.

Here’s the thing: There are a LOT of HR Tech companies out there. A LOT. And it seems that all of them have a chat bot, ahem, recruiting assistant. The problem is, this market is getting so crowded and overwhelming that it is becoming impossible to discern who does what, what’s different, and what will solve the problem that today’s TA Leaders are facing. So, while this isn’t Yelp for HR Tech as Tim Sackett so sensibly asked for this spring, it’s at least an attempt to make some things a tiny bit more clear.

I looked at what I think are the six most talked about recruiting assistants (read: recruiting chatbots), in alphabetical order: AllyO, Ideal, Mya, Olivia, Watson, Xor and here’s what I found:

Level set

They all do a LOT of the same stuff. For example, nearly all of them do screening and scheduling. The only one that doesn’t is Watson.

They all support a few (or more) languages, however, the bulk of them are using things like Google Translate. The ones who are developing their multi-lingual support to be more localized and colloquial are: AllyO and Mya.

Lastly, they are all going to tell you that they will reduce your cost per hire, increase your conversions and save recruiters time. All of that is true. I’ve seen the numbers.

Understanding their place in the journey

We’ve all been to the conferences, we’ve all seen the staged demo. But, what’s so confusing to me is that sometimes, I go to a site and I interact with a bot and other times there is no bot to be found despite just having a software company tell me the company is a customer. The reality is there is a delineation in the chat bots based on where the candidate might interact with the bot in their journey.

The ones you’ve likely have seen and went ooohhhh and aaahhhhh over at the trade show are the ones that pop up when you land on the career site. Let’s call these front-end bots. In this instance, the candidate can interact with the recruiting bot to find the right job, drop off their name to be added to the CRM, or if they find the right role, be screened and scheduled for an interview. Yay! Close that deal! Let’s do that. And let’s do it without a human needing to interact in this specific transaction. We don’t have enough humans to do this right now anyway and most candidates end up in the black hole, so, cool. Get that person in, get them screened and if they’re good, talk to them. These are the best use cases for letting the robots do it, but I digress. What’s interesting here is that the bot is able to generate a lead and convert it into an applicant and then get that person screened and scheduled. The bots that are focused here are:  AllyO, Olivia, Watson, Xor.

The more secret candidate interaction point is when the bot helps the candidate complete the application, screen them and schedule the interview. Let’s call these back-end bots. It’s really about having that assistant there helping the candidate complete the transaction and if they’re a fit, get them scheduled for an interview, pretty handy, right? The key here is that employers can attach the bots to specific jobs to assist the job seeker and the recruiter in getting good candidates on that req. Which makes it more hidden to you, the shopper because, you can’t go play with (or in my case try to trick the robot). The bots that really focus here are: Mya, Xor, Ideal

Now, remember, we are dealing in HR Tech land, so these common use cases are going to merge and blur in a heartbeat.

So, what’s the skinny? Like anything in HR Tech, I would advise you to approach the purchase of technology by first, identifying the problem you’re trying to solve. So, for the purposes of this review, I am going to start there (yes, I know I am 642 words in).

Problems you may need to solve and who’s best suited to help

The whole function is wildly inefficient

·        Best suited: AllyO

·        Could get the job done well: Ideal, Mya, Xor

I do not have enough staff (and never will) to screen the boatloads of people applying

·        Best suited: Ideal

·        Could get the job done well: AllyO, Ideal, Mya, Olivia, Xor

I have a black hole problem and actually decided to fix it

·        Best suited: Mya

·        Could get the job done well: AllyO, Ideal

I need to generate leads at the top of the funnel

·        Best Suited: Olivia

·        Could get the job done well: AllyO, Watson, Xor

I’m concerned about bias in our recruiting efforts

·        Best Suited: Watson

·        Could get the job done well: Mya, Ideal

I don’t have enough candidate flow

·        Best Suited: Xor

·        Could get the job done well: AllyO, Ideal, Olivia

The nuance

Since these players are doing a LOT of the same things and solving a LOT of the same problems, let’s get into the nuance of it all. Let’s break down my point of view on what makes these guys different from each other.


What’s unique about them:

They have the most robust set of use cases and don’t think of it as ending at interview and hire. Yep, they can greet people on your career site. Direct people to the right job, screen and schedule them, but that’s not all. They’re going beyond the candidate transaction and helping their customers keep them engaged AFTER they’re hired. Reaching out to new hires to keep them engaged, checking in regularly with employees, and even elegantly off-board people. They are looking at the whole thing in the same way I do…they’re looking at the “Talent Experience” and not just the candidate experience.


What’s unique about them:

You know how people almost never go back in their ATS to search for great people (think: silver medalists) who may be qualified for the req they’re working on? Well, Ideal solves that for you. They do a really cool thing called “intelligent rediscovery”. What happens is that Ideal’s bot sits on your ATS, automatically scours it to find people who may fit then shoots them a text message out to them to see if they’re interested in this new role you’re hiring for. And if they are interested, they’ll screen and schedule them right then and there.


What’s unique about them:

Hands down, Mya has the best conversational natural language processing capabilities of the set that I reviewed. During the demo, I encouraged the rep to try to trick her with tough answers. For example when Mya asked if I could talk about a job she had open, I said “why not?”. Which if you think about it is both negative AND a question. She knew what it meant. She also seems to understand sentiment and intent. With most of the bots focusing the conversation on yes/no or choose answer a, b, c, Mya is like texting with a friend. Plus, she understands emojis. 😊


What’s unique about them:

Olivia seems to be the bot that everyone knows. What’s great about Olivia, from my point of view, is that she is able to fill that top of the funnel with leads while she guides candidates around your website, shares your branded messages and answers questions about your company. You know the things your recruiters do over and over again, or when people can’t find the info on your site, poof, Olivia is there. And when she does get you where you need to go (hopefully the job), she is there to screen and schedule you for an interview.


What’s unique about them:

Let’s be honest, Watson is the OG in this category. They’ve been doing machine learning longer than these companies have been in business. They also claim that 1/3 of the chatbot category is running off Watson (side note: none of those reviewed are). There is a standout feature from a candidate experience standpoint and that is the ability for a person to copy and paste their resume into Watson and be directed to the jobs that best suit that candidate. It’s slick and feels personal and it will even infer skills to help direct me to jobs that I may not have ever considered. The last BIG differentiator is that Watson is focused on eliminating bias, which I personally cannot wait for that day!


What’s unique about them

It’s kind of funny when you’re watching a demo and the person covers something that is so in-congruent with your expectations that your notes actually say: “I’m not following this.” The reality is Xor has the ability to attract people INTO your funnel from outside your CRM, and ATS. They actually have 500 sources from which they will source to pull people into a chat with Xor about your job. And when they engage with a chat, they will screen and schedule this person. Essentially, you can upload your open req into this bot and it will find people to pull into your req, screen ‘em, and schedule ‘em.

It is a very noisy space, this recruiting bot space. But there are a lot of really cool things happening here. If you have questions about what you’re reading or want to dig in deeper, hit that get in touch button in the upper right corner. If you want to buy any of these, obviously click their links, but I am happy to put you in touch with the wonderful people I talked with to get this information to you to hopefully help you make sense of this very crowded, very confusing space. It’s my wish that it is less confusing now.

Happy shopping.