Chatbot to Screen Applicants

Kiwi’s looking for work at Wendy’s will have to get through Lou.

Thought to be a first for a Kiwi fast food outlet, Wendy’s NZ is using new artificial intelligence (AI) technology to streamline its recruitment process.

Chatbot Lou will take jobseekers through the recruitment process, screening candidates, finding the right job and branch, and then scheduling an in-person interview where a human colleague takes over.

The chatbot, found on the company's website under the employment tab or via a QR code at the restaurant, takes the applicant through a range of standard employment-related questions and filters out those who are unable to perform the tasks required or those under the age of 16.

The next phases - reference checking and a face-to-face job interview - are still performed by the recruiter. Syncing with the recruiter's calendar, the system helps schedule the interview at a convenient time for both parties.

Wendy's NZ CEO Danielle Lendich noted that the technology, through American AI company Paradox, had already streamlined the recruitment process in New Zealand.

"By automating administrative tasks like scheduling, screening and onboarding, the store manager's time is freed up so they can get on with running the restaurant," Lendich said, adding that in a tight COVID labour market the faster recruitment process was a huge benefit.

"We've essentially moved from a two interview process to just one, and we're able to start interacting with a potential candidate as soon as they apply, with no delays. We've had over 1200 applications since the system went live, which I think shows how easy it is easy to use.”

There were plenty of benefits for the jobseeker too. The system is faster and easier and an application can be made from any digital device, anywhere in New Zealand Lendich said.

It’s not the first time the fast-food chain has implemented new technology.

Earlier this year Wendy's was the first fast-food outlet to introduce a contactless payment device for its drive-thru windows. At the time Lendich said the technology, through Windcave, meant faster and safer service during the pandemic. The technology was very similar to parking meter terminals that Auckland Council had installed.

Wendy's chatbot Lou can be found on the Wendy's homepage under "employment" in the bottom right-hand corner.