Why the next text you get may be the start of your job interview

What would you think if you submitted an application, and your first contact with a potential employer or recruiter was a text from a bot? That’s already the case for scores of potential employees. Welcome to your job text-interview.

“One of the primary benefits is giving the candidate the benefit of convenience of conducting this interview at their own time and schedule,” says Kurt Heikkinen, president and CEO of recruiting technology provider Montage. “It’s about the candidate experience. The traditional recruiting process is oftentimes very slow and disrespectful to the candidate’s time.”

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Heikkinen is speaking of that unfortunate part of job-hunting where candidates “fall into a black-hole where they wait for a recruiter to have the time to call them or email them to set up an interview.”

On-demand, as it’s called, is supposed to help solve all that.

How it works

Potential employees are aware that the text is coming from a bot, because of a message or notification that says that “Mira” (the bot’s name) is serving as a “virtual assistant” to the recruiter. The questions it might ask could concern shift preference, work location preference, ability to travel, and the like.

Companies are finding texting a way to speed up the hiring process, and an easier way to hire a large number of hourly or seasonal employees.

The texting is typically used early in the process to determine fit and answer some basic questions, says Heikkinen. Think of it as the new phone screener. There are usually six to eight preliminary questions. There’s no traditional type of worker text interview bots are used with,  but “everything from truck drivers to warehouse positions to travel nurses all present great types of profiles for us,” says Heikkinen.

After the text interview, the next step may not be an in-person interview. It could be an on-demand voice interview or video. “Think of call center hiring or truck driver or field technician,” says Heikkinen about the voice option.

Or nurses. BJC Healthcare in St. Louis, Missouri is made up of 15 hospitals. With 31,000 employees, they’re one of the largest employers in the stage. About half of these hospitals hire nurses right out of school using Montage’s system. After answering questions over text about their shift and hospital preferences, the nurses were invited … well, not to a job interview, but to create an on-demand video where they answered behavioral-based questions. (Retakes are available.)

Sean Peterson, a recruitment marketing systems specialist with BJC Healthcare, says the recruitment program with the graduating nurses was the most successful BJC Healthcare has had so far (they’ve been using Montage for seven months) because “that’s really where we’ve seen the most usage. We sent out 300 invitations to do the on-demand text interview and had an 81% response rate, and then a 55% response rate for the on-demand video.”

He concedes: “We know those numbers are skewed because the graduate nurses are a highly engaged group.”

Texting is the future?

Besides nurses, BJC Healthcare has used AI recruiting for some of the hospital system’s higher-volume roles like housekeeping, patient access, and food and nutrition.

Asked if there was a type of work he wouldn’t use AI recruiting with, Peterson was optimistic. BJC Healthcare needed AI, he said, because they were in a highly competitive area, and they wanted to speed up recruitment time and make sure they were seeing the best candidates first.

“The idea is to use it for as many positions as it makes sense for,” says Peterson. “It isn’t going to work for every job, every candidate, or every recruiter, but for whatever jobs we can use it for that will drive efficiencies, that’s what we’d like to use it for.”

Correction: regarding the response rates for the graduate nurses, BJC clarifies that out of the 300 invitations to do the on-demand text interview, the response rate was 97% and the response rate for the on-demand video was 71%. The overall response rates for BJC’s text interview requests are 81%, and 55% for on-demand video.

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