Advice for Employers and Recruiters

Chatbots CRMs and other recruitment automation systems with Max Armbruster of Talkpush and host Steven Rothberg, College Recruiter’s Founder and Chief Visionary Officer

Shelby Konkel AvatarShelby Konkel
August 29, 2022

Welcome back to another episode of the High Volume Hiring Podcast, the podcast that features news tips, case studies, and interviews with the world’s leading experts about the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to high volume hiring. In this week’s episode, host Steven Rothberg, Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of College Recruiter, interviews Max Armbruster, CEO of chatbot company Talkpush and host of the Recruitment Hackers Podcast.


After a brief discussion on how he got into the recruitment marketing space, Max explains how he found his niche by looking for ways to make it easier for employers to access and evaluate candidates. He delves into what a chatbot is, what kinds of employers can best use them, and why an employer would want to add one to their recruitment tech stack.

Steven and Max discuss where chatbots fit in a traditional marketing funnel. Steven states that chatbots typically do not bring candidates to the top of the funnel rather, they sit somewhere in the middle and can greatly assist with conversion rates. Max agrees with Steven’s assessment but offers some solutions where a chatbot can be utilized to source candidates.

Curious how chatbots can be used to increase click-to-apply conversion rates, greatly reduce internal expenses, and shorten time-to-hire and other response times? Listen to the full episode here:

Subscribe here to follow the High Volume Hiring podcast and stay up to date with new episodes.


Welcome to the High Volume Hiring podcast. I’m Steven Rothberg, the founder of College Recruiter job search site at college recruiter. We believe that every student in recent grad deserves a great career. This podcast features news tips, case studies, and interviews with the world’s leading experts about the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to high volume. Hiring. Thanks for joining us. Today’s guest is Max Armbruster the CEO of talk, push, and host of the recruitment hackers podcast. Max, welcome to the show.


Thanks Steven. Congrats on the new podcast. I’m excited to be here.


Well, cool. Yeah, con congrats is good. We’ll see, at the end of the show, whether the excitement’ carries over or not, but so before we get into the, the meat of it and I have a few few questions for you for the listeners. Why don’t you tell people kinda like a little bit about yourself and what you’re up to?


Yeah, thank you. Well as you said, I’m the CEO and founder of talk Bush. We are a recruitment automation platform, which specializes in high volume situations. So we work with customers all over the world that hire typically thousands of, of people and of talent and oftentimes thousands of the same people. So they’re large operations with many employees and some of them with a very high turnover, so they’re always hiring. And, and so we we have fun trying to automate that process. So it goes as fast as possible. And how I ended up in this space is, you know, a story of career accidents and it, it had to do with, I think being in a market, I, I was based in Singapore when I launched or when I first had the idea of talk Bush and working a lot in Southeast Asia and in markets where there’s very high unemployment, and a lot of, a lot of job seekers. And I was I was looking for ways to make it easier for employers to access and evaluate them in a way that, you know, wasn’t available in the market. So I mean, I can go deeper into the background story, but that’s, that’s how I ended up doing what I’m doing.


I think that listeners immediately are thinking it’s like, oh, okay. I can totally see why max is a guest on this show. So thank, thank you also, just as a little bit more background, when I was thinking about, you know, who, who would be a good guest on this show, you, you would definitely jumped to, to the top of that list. Partly because of the podcast that you host. And also partly because, gosh, I think it was probably 2018 or 2019. You were one of the contestants in, I think it was called the death match, which was a competition amongst startups at a, at a TA tech event. And our CEO who also happens to be, my wife was one of the judges and for the record she was a huge fan. It was great. You did a, a fantastic job of laying out the business model where your place was. It was very compelling. So some of our listeners will know of talk pushes as one of the leading chat bots. Although I know you do a lot more than that. For the listeners who don’t know what a chat bot is, maybe we can start there help us understand from your vantage point, what is a chat bot? What kinds of employers can best use them? And, and why would an employer want to add a chat box to their recruitment tech stack?


I mean, the chat bot one, one of the first questions I ask everybody knows what a chatbot is, conceptually, but, but then deciding how to implement it. It’s, it’s harder to visualize for some people. So the first question people should ask themselves is where does it live? Does it live on a phone phone number is it a, is it an SMS bot? Does it live on a website to convert the traffic coming into the website? Or does it live in an app or does it live in an app also include something like Facebook or Instagram or or another, another app that, that, or like WhatsApp, for example. So that’s the first question is like, where does the, where is the bot gonna live? And then of course, what question is it gonna answer? And if you want to take your traffic from point a to point B, what are those points?

Will it eventually take it to a point C and you know, there is chatbot tech technology now that can carry the that understands the situation in which the, the candidates or, or lead is and figure out contextually, okay, this is somebody at the very start of the hiring process or in the middle or at the end. And based on that answer things differently. So that’s the first question. And then yeah, what a chatbot is and does, I mean, it takes so many different shapes and forms. But the great advantage for, for me is that it can be used at the, at the very front to engage with people who aren’t ne aren’t necessarily deeply committed to applying for their job and who don’t necessarily are, who are not necessarily in an active job seeking mindset or who are just kinda like exploring things so you can lure them in.

And then if you choose a communication channel, which is their, their favorite one, let’s say SMS, for example, well, you can continue that conversation throughout the journey of the candidate. So you’ve got very high stickiness and high response rate, high read rates compared to if you move them into email, for example, or, or another communication channel. But I mean, you can have a chat bot that lives on email as well. It’s just to illustrate you know, one of the advantages of chat bots and and of course, course the technology is now available where you can ask enough questions to someone where you get a pretty good idea of who they are, and you don’t have to ask for their resume at all. So for segments of the population where resumes, don’t tell you that much, that could be enough. Yeah.


And, and I’m glad that you hit on that point because so much of the high volume hiring space, it’s retail warehouse, et cetera. I, I don’t need to see what your degree is. I don’t need to see what your major was from 14 years ago. I probably don’t even need to know that all, that much information up previous jobs, but I do probably have to help you understand where is the job located? What are the hours, what’s the pay any kind of qualifications, and then maybe ask you some questions. When are, you know, when are you available to start, how many hours a week are you looking for the, the kinds of low level RO questions that a, a recruiter might get bogged down with? I, I think that chatbots can do a, a remarkably good job with that, and then really help accelerate that through the hiring process. Also, I would think max that a lot of, a lot of your employer, clients, experience candidates coming to their site, or communicating with them via SMS at all different kinds of times of day and night, weekends, et cetera. It’s kind of hard to staff for that, but a choppa, a chat bot doesn’t sleep, right just it’s there 24 7. So what is a chat bot? What kinds of employers can best use them? And why would an employer want to add a chat bot to their recruitment tech stack?


I mean, I think everybody has had experience interacting with the chat bot by now different different homes for the chat bot. You know, I imagine the, the chat bot has to live somewhere. So depending on where it lives, it would have a different purpose if it lives on a website, typically it’s to improve conversion rates or to learn in, to bring in people with a low engagement. So if, if somebody is just kinda like passing through, they’re not really ready to apply a chat bot will help to increase the conversion rate. There’s another type of bot which can live inside an app. And that can be inside a, inside an actual application or inside Facebook messenger, Instagram WhatsApp and, and other applications. And these are messaging apps that are used by people to, to talk to their friends very often.

So if, if you have a chat bot there you’re gonna have a very good read rate, open rates. And, and so you’ve got a real advantage in terms of capturing the attention of your audience. And then of course you can have chatbots that live on SMS and other areas. And one old notion I’d like to dispel is the idea that a chatbot is text on me. You, you can, you know, if you’re on a website or on an app, you can do a lot of things with a chat bot, including collect and receive images and voice and and video and even documents sometimes. So it’s really a new way of interacting, which it’s a new UI. It’s, you know, the website is now 25 years old. Well, chatbots can do almost anything that a website can do in a sort of conversational Q and a format.


Interesting. So if I’ve got a, a call center and I need to hire thousand people a year for it, I could guide them through that process, answer questions that they might have about where’s the location, what are the hours, what’s the pay range? You know, the, the typical kinds of questions that a candidate might have, but then I can also put them essentially through a screening process, record a short video. So I can, I can see from your type dancers that you have a good command of say the English language, but I can’t tell from that how heavily accented you might be. And in some environments that’s, that’s, that’s really critical.


Yeah. I mean, you could, you could consider that the father or the mother of the chatbot was the IVR, the interactive voice response system. When, you know, you called a bank and you would type in your code and you would say one or two to, you know, pick your menu options. Those were effectively chatbots. And they’re yeah, they can take many forms and shapes now. So to go back to your example, in a call center environment, most of them have figured out a way to generate a fair amount of leads. The job is not for everybody. So they have to check if the working conditions are gonna be suitable for the candidate. And then yes, ideally if they can collect at the same time, enough information to feel confident that this person deserves a job offer, then, then they’ve got a huge edge on the competition.

So today you know, with technology like ours, they could ask, not just if you want the job, but also they could figure out if the person has a decent level, a decent command of the English language and good pronunciation and, and things like that. And, and the chatbot can also immediately connect them to their calendar of a recruiter and say, great, you sound perfect for the job, pick a time there. So you can really do end to end all the way to sending an offer letter and do it all on chat. Basically,


It’s definitely not from a recruitment standpoint, what I’m used to from interacting with like a hotel chat bot or a, an airline chat bot. You know, what time is the flight and, you know, some basic kinds of questions like that, where I have a customer service representative on the other end, if you’re lucky. Yeah. If you’re lucky, this is this, this is very true. And, and sometimes it’s no matter what you ask the answer back is, you know, call, call a human, and then you kind of have to wonder, well, what’s the point of the chat bot to begin with another story for another day? You know, before we, before we jumped on this recording, I had a look at your LinkedIn profile and try to like remind myself some of the things that you’ve done. And one of the things that jumped out at me there was that you had some text there that says something to the effect of that with a, a good recruitment automation system like talk push that employers can expand their talent pools, increase their conversion rates, shorten their response time and massively all caps, lower the cost per higher.

Walk us through why that happens, because I’m totally in agreement, but people who aren’t familiar with chatbots might just be looking at, oh, it’s another expense. But what I think, I think you’ll be able to really help them see is that this is actually something that’s gonna greatly reduce their expenses, not add to their expenses.


Well, there, there are some customers that I don’t think they needed as much as others. So maybe I could answer the, the question by flipping it around in the negative. You know, if, if you’re, if you’re collecting 10 to 20 applicants a day and you’ve got a couple of recruiters working in your operation, do you wanna, do you wanna spend a few thousand dollars on, on an automation platform and a chat bot, perhaps not, you know, perhaps perhaps you’d, you’d be better off paying your two recruiters some overtime and ask them to, to, you know, get through their inbox a little bit faster. But there is a point and it’s usually around four or five recruiters where specialization comes in and where usually at that point you have somebody in the team that’s really good at, at buying traffic and generating traffic.

It can be from marketplaces and job boards or social media. And when, when that person cracks that code, then the problem is you’re gonna drop your conversion rates from lead to hire from maybe like 10%. You know, you hire one out of 10 to, maybe you’re gonna hire one out of 30 or one out of 40 because you now you’re generating a lot of traffic. And when you’re in that, when you’re at that point it’s not, it’s not, you know, financially impossible to call all 30 or 40 candidates to hire that one. So it becomes very expensive. And, and so once you figured out how to generate a fair amount of traffic, then the chat bot really become, comes in handy that I think that’s the, the tipping point. And, and the massive amounts of cost saving are, are mostly internal cost saving. So how do we eliminate those mindless phone calls and screening screening phone calls that happen at the front of the funnel, and also partially potentially in advertising by, by improving your conversion rates, you wouldn’t need to spend as much on advertising, but, but mostly, mostly just in terms of men power cost.


Yeah. And I think one thing that a lot of employers don’t realize I think the, the ones that do a lot of high volume are more likely to realize that than, than those who don’t, but still even amongst the, some of the high volume, they don’t get the metrics back about their, their drop off rates, their, their conversion rates. And there’ve been there study after study showing that usually well over 99, 0% of candidates that go to the ATS do not apply. I it’s, I’ll talk to an employer once every month or two and ask them sort of what is your click to apply rate? How many candidates have to go to the ATS to convert into an application. And first of all, most of them don’t actually know. And some of them that think they know I remember just a couple months ago, big healthcare system and the, the guy who was in charge of of employment branding.

So he was basically working with job boards and, and other vendors like that. He told me it was over 90% and it’s like, this, there’s no way it’s, it’s not over 90%. And what he was talking about was how many candidates who start the application process actually complete. It, that’s really different than how many candidates who go to that page, even start it. And if you can engage those people with a, with a chat bot, then you’re gonna see, I think far more starts and far more completions. And to me, that’s, that’s where that much improved conversion rate click to apply apply, start to apply completion apply completion to interview, et cetera comes into play. So what we’re really describing, I think is where chat bots, CRMs, et cetera, sit in the recruitment funnel. They’re in my mind, they’re not at the top of the funnel because they’re not out there finding a candidate or having that first point of engagement.

That’s more suitable for an ad, whether that’s on Jo, whether that’s it’s on a job board, whether that’s on Google, Facebook, display ads, someplace, a billboard beside the highway. But once that candidate goes to the employer’s site, that’s where I think tools like chatbot CRMs and ATS become so important. And I would characterize those as being middle of the funnel meaning meeting a candidate first that the employer first has to get candidates into the funnel, perhaps through some kind of sourcing effort or advertising a job opening. And do you see it the same way, max?


Yeah. I picked up a couple of things that I disagreed with in your statement. I mean, generally yes advertising is not the job of the bot. There is one exception to that, which is if you have an existing database, if you have past candidates, how do you reengage with them? Well, a chat bot could be a great way to do so, you know, send, send a message to a thousand, 10,000 people, ideally something that is personalized, where you do first, a research on your database to say, I want to see everybody in that location who had this job interest who, and then I’m gonna send everybody a message. That’s personalized. Dear. First name just wanted to catch up. Tell me about your current situation. You know, click here. If you wanna find out more about our jobs in this domain, you know, that that’s I mean, that’s text recruiting more than chatbot , but, but it could be the start of a chat.

So it, it could, it can help on sourcing. And but yeah, generally, yes, you’re right. The the advertising is, is a separate segment and that is the top, top of the funnel. However you said then it’s to bring the, the traffic to the website. And that’s where I disagree is I would say maybe the website’s not the best place to bring the traffic. Even if you have a very nice ATS and a very good job landing page and great options. And it’s visually very enticing. There are many segments of the population where that’s just a distraction. People want to apply, they want quick answers. They want to know if they’re hired. Are they gonna find out if they’re hired on their career website? Not really. So do you need to send them there? It depends on the job type . So I most of our, my, my customers and, you know, we, we work with big fortune 500 companies. They if I ask them, what’s the percentage of your hires coming from that visit your career website, it’ll be less than 10% for sure.


Wow. And so feel free to anonymize, you know, a client like where you don’t name, who they are, but maybe give us an example industrywide or industry wise kinds of rule where if the candidates aren’t going to the employers career website, where are they going?


Yeah, so I, I don’t think I, I need to anonymize cuz it’s on my, on our website, we work with companies like Walmarts, Accenture, McDonald’s big name like that, that people will recognize and then smaller ones. And they have presence on job boards on on Facebook or meta on Instagram. And sometimes in, in billboards, on in retail, sometimes they put a cure code on a bus, you know, and all of these are call to actions that are sent out to the market to ask the candidates, apply and then start a chat. And that chat can then be housed depending on the geography. We, we will put it in different places, but in the, in the us, it would be SMS and perhaps in the Philippines that would go to Facebook messenger. And in, in Mexico it would be WhatsApp for example, or in, in Europe.


Interesting. So they’re walking down the sidewalk, they see a bus and there’s an ad there and there’s QR code code. They yank out their phone, take a picture of it. Most of the new smartphone are gonna automatically load the browser or app if, if they’ve already got an app installed for it and take you right to the, the, the page. And so that’s gonna be served by talk push then. Right. They’d be interacting with talk, push right from the beginning.


Yeah. Yeah. But they wouldn’t know it. The, the bot is branded under the customer, but yeah, our technology’s behind it. And of course, like I said it’s a bit like building websites 20 years ago, you, you have to personalize and everyone has their idea of what their bots should sound like, because you want a conversation that sounds like you, you want a website that looks like you, and then you want a chat bot that sounds like you. And that resonates. So, you know, an Accenture will have a more serious tone perhaps and and maybe a McDonald’s would be a little bit more playful for example.


Yeah, no, that, that totally makes sense. And, and you’ve gotta be authentic with that voice and not try to pretend to be something that you’re not totally makes sense. So max, as before we leave off listeners who wanna get more information about you about talk, push about the weather in Spain, you know, whatever, how, how should they reach out to you?


First of all, don’t go to Spain is too hot. And secondly talk push is just the way you pronounce it, talking and pushing. And and I’m on LinkedIn as as the CEO. So that works. Linkedin is the go-to awesome. So, or, or hello? Hello at talk,


Oh, there you go. That’s E emails, emails always welcome. Thank you so much for joining us today on the high volume hiring podcast, we appreciate your support. Please go to… to subscribe for free on your favorite app. Review it. Five stars are always nice and recommend it to a couple people. You know, who wanna learn more about how to best hire dozens or even hundreds of people. Today’s podcast has been a co-production of evergreen podcasts and college recruiter, a special thanks to our producer and engineer, Ian Douglas and the rest of the team at evergreen. I’m your host, Steven Rothberg, the founder of college recruiter. Each year, we help more than 7 million students in recent grads find great new part-time seasonal internship, apprenticeship, and other entry level jobs. Our customers are primarily fortune 1000 companies, government agencies, and other employers who are hiring at scale. They advertise their jobs that require zero to three years of experience on our niche global job search site. Four more information go to, or email me directly. Steven college Cheers.

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