AI for recruiters: How today’s hiring tools enable smarter conversations

Author Rob Sicat Date May 22 2023

Did you know—the traditional hiring funnel can take an average of 24 days to complete? But with features like Fountain AI, applicants can go from apply to hire in as little as two days.

During a recent webinar, Fountain CTO Matt Tucker discussed how this burgeoning technology can help automate and accelerate talent acquisition systems for organizations of all sizes.

In the hourly hiring race, it’s clear that speed wins. So how can hiring teams simplify and streamline recruitment to fill roles fast?

Enter artificial intelligence (AI), today’s solution for yesterday’s slowdowns. In this post, we share thoughts from our CTO Matt Tucker about how Fountain AI makes recruiting even easier, allowing our customers to meet their candidates where they are and scale their hiring efforts.

A long time coming

AI are the two letters on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days, so it was only a matter of time until companies started finding ways to incorporate this tech into their customer-facing operations.

“This disruptive moment has been coming for a while with the advances in machine learning, but it certainly feels like a moment in time where suddenly everything changes and there are new opportunities to apply this tech,” said Tucker during our recent webinar, Hiring at high volume: How to use AI to your advantage.

“We’ve been thinking a lot about this at Fountain, how we can apply these new language models all throughout the product and in some pretty profound ways to lower friction for both applicants and recruiters.”

From buzzword to real world

At Fountain, the question surrounding AI for recruiters emerged: “How do we take this technology from something that’s theoretical and just a headline to something that can actually be put into practice by hiring managers to help solve their pain points?” Tucker said.

One example of a real-world use case for this technology as it relates to hourly hiring software is the job interview, a high-friction moment for most hiring processes.

Historically, this step has required recruiters to send an email to the candidate with a link that only can be accessed using a desktop computer. What’s more, the applicant may be asked to create a username and password that they’ll have to remember for subsequent sign-ins. Meanwhile, the applicant might be juggling their current job, multiple other job applications, and non-work commitments at home.

With AI for recruiters, however, that same system looks like the following:

  • An SMS or WhatsApp message is sent to the candidate to congratulate them and invite them to an interview.
  • They’re presented with options for days and times to schedule the interview.
  • The candidate can reply using conversational language with the best days and times that work for them.

In this example, “AI is paired with smart automation to allow the candidate to interact in a frictionless way, find the spot that works for them, and book it immediately, without ever having to leave the chat,” Tucker said. “It feels easy and it feels conversational.”

Beyond the bots

Can an automated messaging system truly be as inquisitive and understanding as a human recruiter? For the early stages in a hiring platform, Tucker says yes.

“Fountain AI is good at understanding intent and questions, and pulls from that knowledge base to answer questions in a very easy way,” Tucker said.

In this way, conversational AI turns the application experience into something that more closely resembles human-to-human communication.

“AI is part of how we deliver a very modern automated experience, and for applicants, you can really change the game,” Tucker said.

“Answering questions and making it really easy for the applicant gives you a much higher chance that you’re going to attract the right type of worker and keep them engaged in the process.”

Phone-forward conversations

With approximately 86% of hourly applicants using their mobile phones to apply for jobs, Fountain AI brings the conversation to where candidates already spend a ton of time.

“They’re using their phone for a majority of that process,” Tucker said. “We’ve turned [the application] into something that is easier to work around things like scheduling shifts at their current jobs or potential caretaking responsibilities, which is a really powerful thing.”

Fountain AI “makes it possible to interact as you would texting a friend or texting another coworker. Having that access at your fingertips is particularly impactful.”

Eliminating bias in AI sourcing tools

One concern about the use of AI for recruiters is the potential for bias. But the functionality of AI is in the hands of recruiters who need to know how to program learnings to eliminate bias. Tucker believes AI can act as an augmenter and amplifier of human behavior rather than trying to replace humans in decision making.

“These large language-model AIs train on human data, so all of our collective biases are embedded in the AI, which means that if you don’t thoughtfully apply this technology, you can run into some big problems,” he said.

For example, you can plug a sample job description into an AI program and ask it to detect noninclusive language, and/or ask for suggestions for more inclusive wording.

How Fountain can help

During the webinar, Tucker and Rob Sicat, Fountain Group Product Manager, walked through a demo of Fountain AI to give attendees a view of the feature through both the applicant and the recruiter lens.

From the applicant point of view, Fountain AI prompts visitors to a careers site to apply through a series of questions and actions. The applicant engages with the AI tool just like they would chat with a friend. The sophisticated chat function is able to collect information and documents, comprehend different ways of saying the same thing, detect misspellings, and even schedule interviews with recruiters. If the window is accidentally or purposefully closed before the application is closed, the chat will pick up right where it left off once reopened.

Fountain AI

Meanwhile, recruiters are able to see in their hiring platform all the information the applicant has submitted. Through programmed automated actions, only applicants who have passed preliminary stages of the process and with the appropriate qualifications will make it to the recruiter dashboard. (For example, an applicant who is 16 years old and does not have a driver’s license may not make it through for a delivery driver role.)

Possibly most importantly, these workflows can be replicated and scaled for hundreds—even thousands—of applicants.

Final thoughts

In closing, Tucker emphasized the role speed has in the hiring game and how AI can come to the rescue.

“If it takes you over 20 days to give an offer to a candidate and they’ve applied to 20 or even 30 roles, you won’t win,” he said. “AI is part of how we deliver a very modern automated fast experience.”

To get your own demo of Fountain AI, click here.


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About the Author

Director, Product, Wave

Rob Sicat

Rob is an experienced product and design leader and currently the head of a Fountain team that is building hiring tools for the future. He has spent the last decade working with startups of all sizes across product management and design.