Recruiting, Technology

How Conversational AI is Revolutionizing Recruiting: A Q&A with Ankit Somani of AllyO

Recently, we sat down with Ankit Somani, cofounder of AllyO, to discuss what conversational artificial intelligence (AI) is, and how it’s revolutionizing the recruiting industry.


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Recruiting Daily Advisor (RDA): What is conversational AI, for starters?
Ankit Somani: Conversational AI uses natural language processing to mimic a human conversation. It consists of three main components: a natural language understanding system (think: a human’s ears and part of the human brain), a natural language generation system (a human’s mouth and part of the brain), and a dialog management system, which mimics the rest of the human brain.
In simpler terms, conversational AI helps humans speak to a system or machine in a way that mirrors how they would normally communicate with another human. Conversational AI also allows humans to receive an intelligent response that shows them that the machine understood or provided the data and information they shared or requested.
By combining these two processes into a string of back-and-forth exchanges—that keep the context from each exchange to help inform the chat—the experience becomes a conversation, not just a human talking to a system without receiving a response.
RDA: How is conversational AI used in recruiting?
Somani: When conversational AI is applied, the entire recruiting experience is one long conversation between a recruiter and a candidate. In fact, that’s how simple recruiting was a 100 years ago: All candidates had to do was walk up to the place he or she wanted to work, strike up a conversation, and start the job.
This conversation can be used to help candidates move through the job search by being screened, assessed for fit, scheduled for an interview, contacted at the correct points about the necessary next steps, collect the right information, receive his or her offer, and be onboarded effectively.
Now imagine doing all of this, just over a simple conversation via text or an online chat. This is how conversational AI is used not only throughout the recruiting process but also throughout a candidate’s first few months in his or her new role, to ensure he or she is adapting well to the new company and position.
RDA: What are the benefits of using conversational AI in recruiting?
Somani: From a candidate’s perspective, recruiting has become a long, drawn-out process that consists of filling out of countless forms, being bounced across several systems, and not hearing back from most companies. Because of this, organizations tend to see lower capture rate and high drop-offs during the recruiting process.
Conversational AI can rehumanize recruiting by making virtual recruiters available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to respond to every question candidates pose and guiding them through the process. As a result, thanks to this virtual recruiter, which is powered by conversational AI, each candidate has his or her own virtual recruiting assistant to provide assistance throughout the entire recruiting process.
With AllyO specifically, the improvement in the candidate’s experience, coupled with timely nudges to complete various tasks related to the recruiting process, our conversational AI helps over 90% of applicants complete a conversation with a recruiter or hiring manager and more than 95% have a positive experience. More tangibly, AllyO helps recruiters capture over two to six times more candidates, and reduce their cost of hire by up to 90%.
RDA: What are the challenges of using conversational AI in recruiting?
Somani: Conversational AI is a powerful tool that improves the candidate experience, automates administrative recruiting tasks, and provides actionable insights to HR leaders. The biggest aspect to consider when purchasing this technology is how easy is it to deploy and whether you will lose visibility into the process you were once so deeply involved in once you deploy the technology.
The right technology and provider will make deployments an extremely simple process and arm you with the necessary tools to both monitor how well the technology is working and also share ways to help control the processes and outcomes.
Deploying a conversational AI tool is like hiring a new employee; you have to make sure the onboarding process doesn’t take too long, that it understands your company’s values, and are solving the problems you care about and need solutions to.
RDA: How can conversational AI improve the workflow of recruiters?
Somani: The right AI technology can help automate all of a recruiter’s administrative tasks, including capturing, screening, scheduling, and sending reminders. Right now, this takes up to 75% of recruiters’ work hours, so by automating these time-consuming administrative tasks, recruiters can spend more time doing what they love: attracting, nurturing, and convincing the best candidates to join their company through meaningful and personal conversations.
Plus, the overall increase in recruiters’ productivity means that they can close requisitions much faster; in fact, AllyO clients typically see up to a 70% reduction in their time-to-hire rates after deployment. Recruiting teams can also extract valuable insights from such a conversational AI-powered system, which helps them diagnose process and people problems, giving them a seat at the table with their operational counterparts, and allows them to use real candidate data to make tangible process changes.
RDA: Can you offer any best practices, or real-world examples, from companies who have successfully implemented conversational AI in their recruiting process?
Somani: We’re fortunate to work with many innovative, successful customers across a wide range of industries, including Hilton Hotels, Brinker International, and AT&T. Here are a few of our clients’ success stories:
  • After a large grocery chain deployed conversational AI, it saw a 65% reduction in its time-to-hire rates and a 99% increase in its store fill rates. This chain initially deployed conversational AI in three regions, running the process for 3 months before expanding further. The organization also appointed a very effective talent acquisition leader and involved its operations counterparts early on during the buying process, making its deployment of conversational AI even more successful in the long run.
  • A very large restaurant company saw 66% of its open, evergreen job requisitions close within the first 2 weeks of deploying conversational AI. Today, the company uses conversational AI to handle all of its applicants, meaning the only way a candidate can apply for a job with the company is to have an initial conversation through conversational AI. In this instance, a big part of this company’s success deploying conversational AI had to do with the preemptive training that all restaurant managers had to undergo on the technology, in order to better understand and implement it within the organization. Because of this, securing successful results early on with conversational AI built the right credibility for the HR leader and conversational AI itself.
  • A large language interpreter organization had identified that its biggest opportunity in the recruiting process was to quickly engage the existing applicants within its applicant tracking system (ATS). Using AllyO’s conversational AI, the organization’s recruiters were able to contact all of these existing applicants within minutes of them applying and secure a 90% completion rates within a 30-minute conversation.

RDA: What is AllyO and how is it impacting the recruiting industry?
Somani: AllyO is an end-to-end AI recruiter with a simple mission—make recruiting delightful and efficient for recruiters and candidates. It addresses the traditional inefficiencies of lost applicants and conversions due to poor candidate experience, the high cost of recruiting due to overburdening of menial tasks on hiring teams, and lack of visibility and control for HR leadership.
It utilizes deep workflow conversational AI to fully automate the end-to-end recruiting workflow by intelligently engaging candidates via texting over mobile and web. It is used by Fortune 500 enterprises that have experienced an increase of two to six times in applicant capture and conversion rate, 91% application completion rate, and over 70% reduction in cost and time-to-hire.
In terms of AllyO’s role in the recruiting industry, it is redefining recruiting by helping organizations make better hiring decisions from the very start of their hiring workflows. For instance, AllyO is the only AI recruiter who assists with the interviewing, hiring, and onboarding processes. Our ultimate goal is to make the experience better for everyone involved in the hiring lifecycle—candidates, recruiters, hiring managers, and HR leadership teams.
Though the HR tech space continues to see new entrants and steep competition, we see our position in the space as an AI technology company that provides a customer-first approach with a home-grown, conversational AI system that will continue to improve over time.