- McDonald's has launched a voice-initiated job application process, the McDonald's Apply Thru. According to a press release, this added feature is part of McDonald's global hiring campaign aimed at driving applications worldwide.
- The system works through Alexa and Google Assistant. Once the application process is started by saying "Alexa, help me get a job at McDonald's" or "OK, Google, talk to McDonald"s Apply Thru," the applicant answers questions from the assistants and then receives a text message with a link to continue their application process.
- In the release, McDonald's EVP and Chief People Officer David Fairhurst said this feature is a way for the company to meet potential job seekers in innovative and creative ways.
Fairhurst also said the feature simplifies the company's application process and that is, indeed, the idea of voice automation, which removes the friction of typing an inquiry. Research from eMarketer estimates that nearly 112 million people in the U.S. will use a voice assistant at least once a month, up nearly 10% from last year. This equates to about 40% of internet users and about 34% of the total population. McDonald's is certainly striking this technology while the iron is hot.
But the process — right now, at least — isn't necessarily seamless. First, you have to ask the device to start the process. Then you have to submit your name and phone number and sit through some selling points, such as "As a guest experience leader, you could help create feel-good moments by making sure guests are taken care of." Then, McDonald's sends you a notice that you have subscribed to receive a text and are required to respond affirmatively to receive that text. Then you get the link to McDonald's application page, which requires even more steps.
Some big questions loom. For starters, how many smart speaker owners are actively looking for a job at McDonald's? Loup Ventures predicts 75% of U.S. households will have smart speakers by 2025, so there will be quite a few eventually.
Second, will job searching become an intuitive task through smart speakers, where consumers ask for simpler information, such as "what's today's weather" and "can I order a pizza?" As more users adopt voice assistants, the technology will inevitably become more intuitive and its applicability will eventually become more vast so, potentially, yes.
It's worth noting that the value here isn’t just for the applicants. With this launch, McDonald's discovers another data mine full of people who are interested in employment. This could open up a new world of HR marketing and innovation. Is McDonald's targeting the right demographic through its hiring practices? Alexa may eventually know better than anyone.
There are a number of other potential benefits with this launch. On its surface, finding new ways to connect people to a career opportunity is a positive PR move. Implementing voice technology could also help the company better achieve ADA compliance through its Careers website. And, McDonald's may be able to vet better, more motivated applicants who could be intrigued by a tech-forward approach and who are willing to finish the process after hearing a commercial-like pitch with statistics such as: "In the U.S., 2,403,460 McDonald's crew members have become entrepreneurs."