Southwest Airlines is reportedly using chatbots to find the best job seekers quickly amid a labor shortage and high demand for air travel

  • Southwest Airlines is turning to digital tools to recruit the best candidates, the WSJ reported.
  • Chatbots and other AI tools can make for a quicker hiring process compared with a human.
  • The move comes as demand increases and the labor market becomes more competitive.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Southwest Airlines is using digital job recruiting tools, such as chatbots, to help find the best recruits, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Monday.

The airline hopes digital tools will speed up the hiring process as air travel makes a comeback more than one year after the pandemic struck, Greg Muccio, Southwest’s director of talent acquisition, told the Journal.

“The labor market is probably as tough as I’ve ever seen it, and so we’ve got to be able to move with speed, and that’s where all these tools come into play,” said Muccio.

In the past, it’s taken Southwest up to 45 days to offer a candidate a job after posting it, Muccio said. Digital recruiting tools can help to cut that time in half, he said.

Phenom People Inc. is the chatbot platform which Southwest uses to identify and notify the best candidates for a job, the Journal reported.

Since the company started using it last year, the chatbot has interacted with 1.2 million applicants which would have taken staff between 18,000 and 92,000 hours to complete, Muccio said.

The chatbot can answer work-related questions and ask applicants questions on work eligibility and pay rates, the Journal reported. It can also score candidates on their skills and experience, helping Southwest find the most suitable person for the job, Phenom Chief Executive Mahe Bayireddi told the Journal.

Although Muccio said he preferred face-to-face interaction for that particular part of the hiring process.

Currently, the airline has 2,000 job openings, including flight attendants and airport operation staff, Muccio told the Journal.

Southwest was close to furloughing nearly 7,000 employees in December after negotiations to temporarily introduce pay cuts fell through. Muccio confirmed to the Journal that the company didn’t end up furloughing or laying off any staff during the pandemic.

After cutting tens of thousands of jobs, other major US airlines, including American, Delta, and United have all announced they would be going on a hiring binge as the travel industry hopes for a post-pandemic resurgence.

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