Elizabeth Nieves is looking for a job. And, so is her chatbot.
On Facebook, you can send a message to the Hire Eli bot and learn about Nieves’ skills and experience. There’s a photo, and the bot can tell a joke. You can click a button to find out where she has worked and learn about her education. At this point, the bot is not that advanced. You can’t engage in a discussion about Nieves’ previous positions or work experience. When I tested the bot, I asked “what have you written?” and the bot didn’t know how to answer.
If you start clicking on more buttons, the bot gives you more information, including the reason Nieves is looking for a job. The bot makes sure you are paying attention and eventually asks if you have any more question. You can ask about hobbies and even Nieves’ favorite food (it’s pizza), which gives the bot a bit more of a personality.
One of the advantages is that the bot is always available, 24 hours a day and seven days per week. Nieves also has a website to help with her job search. In all, it looks like a lot of effort to find a job, but that might be one clue to potential employers — this is a person with dedication.
You might wonder, can a chatbot really help? Nieves admitted to me that the bot is a work in progress. After I asked about the bot and discovered that the AI is somewhat limited, she explained that her goal is to keep adding more AI as she continues the job search.
Avatars like this will one day do much more than help us find a job. Someday, we will dispatch them to meetings (fully prepared with an extensive database of answers to give and questions to ask) and use them to conduct interviews, and we will rely on chatbots that can handle mundane tasks (like waiting on hold and then booking a dinner reservation for us).
What’s the advantage? You might already know the age-old joke about needing to clone yourself to get more work done, and that is somewhat possible with a chatbot. Indeed, if it’s somewhat possible — and passable — we might start using them, depending on the meeting, the interview, and the dinner reservation.
Let’s say you want to use a bot to find someone in your neighborhood to wash your car. You deploy a bot on Facebook, localize it, and ask a few simple questions. A 15-year-old with some experience answers the call. How much time did you save? Fifteen minutes? Maybe you have someone a little more qualified, maybe not. The value for this type of fill-in chatbot will be determined by effectiveness and availability.
Of course, with a job search, you have to wonder if the bot could cause any damage. But if nothing else, it can sift through potential employers. Some will be impressed that the bot can provide some basic information and that Nieves took the time to create the bot at all. Here’s hoping it works.