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With artificial intelligence buzz circling the HR space and tight talent markets making candidate experience top of mind, this might just be the year of the chatbot.

According to Juniper Research, HR and recruiting chatbots have the potential to reduce business costs by more than $8 billion by 2022. The other appeal of chatbots is their flexibility: they can be deployed via SMS, messaging apps, email and through your company's website.

While companies are already using chatbots in creative ways, there's more potential to unlock. Find out how HR teams can use chatbots to re-brand their candidate experience, connect with their employees and reduce their recruiters' workload.

1) Engaging with Candidates

Some organizations are already using recruiting chatbots to communicate with candidates preliminarily, asking them qualifying questions, answering any questions they may have and even scheduling interviews with human recruiters. As organizations adopt the "candidate as consumer" mentality, chatbots enable organizations to engage with an unlimited number of candidates simultaneously in real time—without sacrificing candidate experience.

According to staffing and recruitment firm Allegis, 66 percent of candidates are comfortable interacting with a chatbot, so the market seems poised for mainstream adoption. As chatbots prove their value in the early part of the recruiting funnel, their use will logically move downstream to processes such as onboarding and new employee training for the same advantages: on-demand, real-time feedback.

2) Marketing Your Employer Brand

Organizations are increasingly realizing the value of a strong employer brand. By using a recruiting chatbot to communicate with candidates, companies can differentiate themselves as a more innovative and responsive brand when it comes to recruiting.

Some companies are taking this branding even further by programming their recruiting chatbot to have a personality that aligns with their values and company mission. An interesting example of a branded recruiting chatbot is the U.S. army's SGT STAR.

Designed to answer FAQs about topics such as basic training, types of jobs available and salary, candidates can message SGT STAR through the army's website. SGT STAR has fielded 16 million questions to date. One way that the bot displays its organizational values is by reprimanding profanity. If there are any bad words in a conversation, the bot will say: "Please watch your language. One of the Army's Core Values is respect, which includes being respectful in the way you speak to others, both virtual and human alike."

One of the biggest benefits of using a chatbot to promote your employer brand is that it ensures not only objectivity in how candidates are treated, but also consistency of messaging.

3) Assisting with Scheduling

One of the big areas of HR where chatbots are showing their value is employee scheduling. At Overstock.com, employees who are too sick to come into work can let the HR chatbot, Mila, know. Mila then relays that information to their managers, closing the loop.

Employees also appreciate the option to schedule vacation time using a chatbot instead of having to log into their HR software, or sending multiple emails to managers and HR departments. For HR teams, the benefit is clear—automating administrative tasks saves time, and allows them to focus on other areas, such as professional development.

With the current push towards AI and automation in recruiting, chatbots have obvious applications for significantly reducing recruiters' workload. Whether engaging hundreds of candidates at once, contributing to a strong and consistent employer brand or keeping current employees happy, the chatbot might just become HR's best friend.

Photo: Twenty20