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What Do Job Seekers Ask About During a Pandemic?

When talent acquisitions leaders were strategizing for 2020 they could not have anticipated the rapid changes that would occur in the candidate market. On March 11th 2020, the World Health Organization officially proclaimed COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic and the industry saw a sudden shift in the job market.

The demand for workers in healthcare, consumer goods and logistics jumped across Europe and the USA. This was inflated by the knock-on effects of a boost in online shopping, buying in bulk and increasing cases of COVID-19. For the talent acquisition lead it meant everything planned, along with the go-to playbook, was thrown out the window. Communication with job seekers and candidates was now more important than ever. 

In preparation for the influx of corona queries, enterprises such as Airbus, McDonald’s, Deutsche Telekom and other clients utilised their recruitment chatbot to automate communication with job seekers and candidates by creating coronavirus categories. 

Job Seeker Study Results

6 weeks after the announcement, jobpal’s data analysts gathered all 600 COVID-19 related questions that job seekers were asking in order to gain a better understanding of their behavior. These are the results:

job seekers COVID-19 queries
  • 47% of chatbot end users wanted to know about the company’s reaction to COVID-19. With queries such as “What are you doing to protect your employees from COVID-19?” and “How are you dealing with the Corona crisis?” 
  • 23% of chatbot end-users had hiring-related queries such as “What is going to happen with my application due to corona?” and “Can I apply despite Corona?”
  • 11% of chatbot end-users asked interview related questions such as “Will my interview be impacted by coronavirus?” and “Do all applicants get a new appointment for tests and video interviews?”. 
  • 10% of chatbot end-users asked a range of other questions that surrounded the business rather than around hiring such as “How do I get food from you despite COVID-19?” and “When do you close because of coronavirus?”. 
  • 7% of chatbot end-users wanted to know more information about the COVID-19 virus itself and had queries such as “I am worried about COVID-19 what should I do?” and “Give me information on corona”
  • 2% of chatbot end-users asked about what will happen after the COVID-19 crisis – “Will you hire after the coronavirus?”.

Learnings from the Job Seeker Study

What’s an interesting takeaway is the volume of queries in certain areas. For example, company reaction is almost half of the total queries registered. This shows that job seekers across the board are most likely to ask questions about the company’s response to the pandemic. It’s clear that to see the need to communicate the business’ stance on COVID-19 is a must. 

Hiring related queries take up 23% of the dataset – an interesting result which can tell us a lot about the candidate market. It could be that the volume of the queries relates to the concerns at the forefront of the job seekers mind. Stability and security could see less movement in job roles as talks of economic downturn continue. 

“Can I do a video interview instead of a normal interview?” – video interview questions populate a large portion of the 11% interview related questions. It’s no secret that interviews made the move to virtual platforms over March, and it could be seen as the new normal for candidates and recruiters. Another hypothesis around this category is that the majority of those asking questions are candidates who are already in the pipeline.  

The “Other” category consists of queries that relate to business operations. This could suggest that even if a job seeker is inquiring about a position they can also ask about the business from a consumer perspective. In a similar light, 7% of queries regarding the Coronavirus can also be perceived from a consumer standpoint. Post-COVID 19 makes up the smallest portion of the queries, which can tell us that during that period very few job seekers could see past the pandemic. 

Conversational AI technology equips talent acquisition teams with the ability to communicate effectively in their employer brands’ tonality 24/7. Consequently, automating this part of the hiring process provides the TA team’s time-back to focus on more urgent tasks, retrieve data insights from their candidates and increase engagement. Automation’s ability to drive efficiency in recruitment and time-saving capabilities is one of the reasons why the demand for AI in recruitment has shot up to 36% in 2020, compared to 7% in 2019.  

Enterprises such as Airbus and Deutsche Telekom have proved successful with automation in their hiring process with a positive impact on efficiency, candidate engagement and experience.

Catherine Munnelly

Catherine Munnelly