Live chat: an overlooked recruitment tool?

In today’s age of ubiquitous connectivity, we have hundreds of recruitment tools at our disposal. There’s social media, there’s video, there’s a world of clever automation technology… the industry is saturated with options.

But this is recruitment, where the pace never seems to slow. Appetites for more are rarely satiated, and recruiters are always hungry for that next game-changing piece of software that will help them work quicker and smarter.

Amongst the plethora of nifty recruitment software available, are we overlooking an obvious tool? Why aren’t we using live chat to recruit?


The case for live chat

Let’s look at some cold hard facts. Live chat is already changing the landscape of ecommerce. A full third of consumers now expect live chat to be an available option when contacting a business. For 44%, having a live chat agent answer their questions is one of the most important features a website could offer. And for 73%, live chat offers the highest satisfaction levels of any customer service channel.

There has to be a way that this popularity can be harnessed for recruitment purposes. As it happens, some employers are already cottoning on…


Real life use studies

The UK military has long been using live chat to engage with potential recruits. If you’re interested in joining the Royal Navy, you can speak one on one to an advisor in a live pop up chat from 8am-8pm every working day. Or if it’s the Royal Air Force that piques your interest, you can participate in one of the regular live chat sessions hosted with a chosen specialist employee.

It’s not just the military. Universities have long been making use of live chat in their recruitment drives. Interested in studying at Essex University? No problem, just speak to an advisor online in real-time. The same applies for Hull, Birmingham, Aston… it’s a long list.

Then there’s companies like PwC, who allow you to talk with a member of their recruitment team online to find out more about career opportunities. These organisations have all reached the same, valid conclusion: live chat serves more purposes than ecommerce alone. Live chat is a highly convenient way to recruit.


The new way to engage and attract?

Three words have been dominating the recruitment industry for a while now: “candidate driven market”. Candidates are spoilt for choice in a booming economy, and it’s up to recruiters to woo them.

So, let’s give them their preferred method of communicating with businesses. The candidates of today want immediacy. They’re used to instant availability: everything they’re looking for can be found at the touch of a screen or the click of a button. Why should job hunting be any different?

These candidates are accustomed to immediate responses and one-click communications. They want a recruitment service that fits in with their busy lifestyles, and live chat could well be the missing link.


Getting chatty with it

Candidates don’t necessarily want to submit their CV to a job board and risk getting bombarded by a barrage of recruiters. And sometimes, they might see an interesting job advert that’s not detailed enough to inspire further action.

Enter live chat. If live chat was an option, these candidates could chat to a recruiter in real-time and find out further details on location, salary, necessary skills, etc. They could get instant answers to their questions, and they could establish trust and authenticity.

More often than not, conversations = conversions. You’ll encourage more applications by being available to talk about your open roles, and you’ll do it without having to pick up the phone or type out involved emails with accompanying attachments.

This isn’t about spending all your time on live chat software. It’s about offering a quick, casual and convenient method of candidate communication.

Like it or not, many people have an inbuilt perception of recruiters as aggressive salespeople. Live chat is indirect and unaggressive. It’s an inviting way to encourage conversation with candidates, as they wouldn’t feel like they’d be getting themselves into an intense hard-sale. That, in itself, is valuable to the industry.


Let’s get screening

Let’s face it: the interview process can be harrowing for candidates. Face to face interviews are notoriously nerve-wracking, and video interviews are little better. An informal live chat interview, on the other hand, wouldn’t be too traumatic.

Now, that’s not to say that we should all cut the formal interview and adopt virtual recruitment methods alone. That would be ridiculous. But we do need to move with the times and embrace the latest methods of communication if we’re to stay relevant.

So, what’s stopping us from asking a few simple screening questions via live chat? Naturally, this would only be to suitable candidates who you’re already considering putting forwards. It’s not reinventing the wheel. It’s about making things easier, for candidates and consultants alike.

A live chat screening session would still make candidates think on their feet, but it would strip the tension of a formal interview environment. Recruiters could multi-task throughout the session, and candidates could talk about their skills and experiences without having to get suited and booted. It’s quicker and more convenient than a phone call, and it doesn’t block out a huge portion of your day.

To reiterate: this isn’t a replacement to the traditional face to face interview. It’s a complementary tool to help screen fitting candidates quickly and in a way that’s comfortable to them, whilst still providing that all-important personal touch. What’s to lose in giving it a go?



Logistics isn’t an issue

Instant messaging doesn’t mean instantly forgotten. Live chat can integrate with Office 365 and complete all sorts of nifty tasks, creating appointments, linking with your calendar, saving transcripts, etc. It could be an overlooked but invaluable recruitment tool, enabling quick, casual communications that build candidate trust.

These communications could be as and when they happen. They could be scheduled for certain times. They could even be set up as an expert live chat session with an employer / senior recruiter as part of an advice-sharing marketing exercise.


Are we ready?

Live chat isn’t the new be-all and end-all of recruitment. But it could speed up the process and offer convenient interaction between candidates and consultants.

There’s a shift taking place in the way we communicate. And that shift is in the direction of immediacy.  By aligning the right resources now, the recruitment industry could stay one step ahead of the curve.

What do you guys think? Time to try a new tool? Join the debate and get involved.

Author bio:

I like sugary tea, Arnold Schwarzenegger and quality copywriting. (Not necessarily in that order). You can find me at Parker Software, writing up pleasing words and drinking aforementioned tea.

Views: 3096

Comment by Katrina Kibben on August 11, 2015 at 11:18am

If you could see me, I'm literally applauding. A-men. Answering questions live has a ton of perks from getting to know the average website visitor to live feedback about what should be on your website to drive more candidate conversions. It's like having a live panel to review your website every day. 

One thing I'd add is that you should get a software that tracks all of the conversations in your system and also one where you can export the information as a resource for your team. Everyone should know what kind of feedback you're getting. 

Comment by Eric Putkonen on August 11, 2015 at 11:40am

As an IT recruiter at UnitedHealth Group, I am on rotation to man the weekly chat for IT professionals/jobs.  (see the various topics at  As Katrina mentioned, integration and tracking are a good idea and it is with out Salesforce CRM.

From my experience of doing this, the vast majority of people who come to the chat just want to know a handful of things:

1. What is the status of my applications?

2. What can I do to get an interview after my application?

3. How can I get a job with the company? (and some have never applied to any job yet)

That is probably 80% of the the questions.  I think chat is a great thing, but just wanted to say this is what I see and I believe these questions could be better answered another way than repeatedly on a chat.

Comment by Jatin Singh on August 12, 2015 at 2:13am

Live Chat  is very worth full in case of the shipping jobs. I may think this blog really helpful for the candidates as well as recruiters.

Comment by Roxanne Abercrombie on August 12, 2015 at 4:29am

Hey guys

Thanks for reading and commenting :)

Completely agree Katrina, and that kind of live chat software is readily available on the market. It really is pretty clever what live chat can do. You can get it hooked up with your database to update records in real-time, you can have it connected to your Office email account, you can have it report on visitor activity... it could be a pretty slick tool if used properly. (Not that I'm trying to become a salesperson here, I just think recruiters are missing a trick!)

That's a good point Eric. If you're going to invest in live chat, you also have to invest time. You can actually get live chat which has automated, intelligent canned responses which would help take some off the strain off answering those typical questions. I'm pretty sure you can also have those automatic responses feed into a FAQ section on your website, but don't hold me to that...I'll do some research.

Thanks again!

Comment by Eric Putkonen on August 12, 2015 at 11:27am

I am on chat today...and I am reminded of another common question I get:

 - should I apply to more than one job? (am I considered for all openings in applying to one job?)

I would think a FAQ or short video of top questions answered would be a good way to go.

Comment by Katrina Kibben on August 12, 2015 at 12:01pm

DirecTV actually has a customer service model that could work well for a large careers site - they force you to go through a couple of question/answer prompts before offering up the chat option. It could guide people through and filter out some? 

Comment by Joel McLean on August 14, 2015 at 5:19pm

I also implemented LiveChat. My former company still uses it. It's absolutely a great tool. A large majority of questions were technical. Most of the rest were exactly the same as Erik describes.

This doesn't mean it's not good. I think it's great that someone is there to answer these questions. But, recruiter burnout was a problem. Because most chats didn't actively advance their goals, it was difficult to keep people motivated and see the larger picture of a more robust candidate experience.

Comment by Robin Siddhu on January 11, 2016 at 11:20pm

Great read!

Love the points you are making. The idea of a chat inteview seemed really interesting to me. I run a consultancy and our method had always been a call-driven approach to recruitment. Recent, I have intalled a chat software called live2support on my website and I have seen substantial engagement.

I was thinking on ways to expand and chatting with job-seekrers seems a way to go. Also pre-screening them on chat seems a fabulous idea. I will surely give it a try.

Thanks a ton for the insights.



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