Using an innovative way to communicate with jobseekers brings mixed results – but some promise
Deutsche Telekom offers an unusual way for jobseekers to interact with the company.
The corporate website exists in English and German, and on the German version a blog alerted us to the existence of a chat bot, ‘KATY’, in the careers section of the subsidiary T-Systems Germany site.
KATY appears as an overlay panel available on the right-hand side of all pages in the section; users simply type in questions and the answer is provided (or not).
The bot did not prove that useful. We asked it several simple questions in both German and English, and most of the time received a standard message that it could not help us.
Even when we wrote, in German, that we were looking for jobs in Stuttgart, we were simply directed to the job search mechanism, rather than a listing of available jobs in Stuttgart from the job search site.
The fact that Deutsche Telekom is prepared to use a chat bot – and to advertise it on its blog and other channels, such as its Whatsapp messenger service – is perhaps as much about reinforcing its credentials as an innovative tech company than providing services of real use, at least at this stage.
In mitigation of KATY’s deficiencies, the blog publicising the release of the bot states clearly that it will not be perfect yet and that, as an implementation of artificial intelligence, it needs to learn from successes and failures. Only offering the bot on a subsidiary country site, at this stage, seems sensible too.
The blog also says humans at T-Systems will sometimes help the chat bot as it learns. This seemed to happen when we asked it about company benefits. We initially got the reply that KATY could not assist, but then several minutes later received another answer – presumably from a person – setting out some high-level information on company benefits, although there were no onward links and many jobseekers may have given up on KATY by then.
As ever, the success of using new technologies relies on the skill and effort of the humans behind them.