Harnessing the Power of AI in recruitment

Posted on: Tuesday, 30 April 2019 in Opinion Pieces .

Harnessing the Power of AI in recruitment

Artificial Intelligence has become the buzzword for modern day business and indeed life. We have all witnessed AI increasingly disrupt industries – bookshops replaced by Amazon, music stores replaced by Spotify and the transport sector transformed by Uber. As it becomes more accessible, AI has the potential to transform every business and if your industry hasn’t been affected yet, it most probably will be. Emma Kieran from Clarendon Executive examines what this might mean for the future of the recruitment industry.

Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t the future. It’s the present. And contrary to popular belief, AI isn’t just about robots – it’s becoming a routine tool requiring a level of human intelligence. Just think of smartphones, which can use AI to unlock themselves by scanning and recognising our faces. The increasing and seemingly unstoppable sophistication of AI will continue to infiltrate every aspect of our lives both at home and at work.

Relevance to recruitment

The recruitment industry is certainly not immune to such change. The technological revolution across recruitment is gathering significant pace, driving and necessitating huge changes in procedures. 

Vodafone, for example, now uses the HireVue48 platform, which captures video applications and uses artificial intelligence to give deeper insight into candidates and help make better and quicker hiring decisions. The use of video removes steps such as CV reviews and traditional assessments.

Unilever has used artificial intelligence successfully to screen all entry-level employees. Candidates play neuroscience-based games to measure inherent traits and then have recorded interviews analysed by AI.

Some wider developments in the use of AI in a recruitment context include automated candidate sourcing, candidate rediscovery, candidate matching, hiring remote workers, internal referrals, diversity hiring, customised employee value propositions and, somewhat controversially, facial expression analysis (during video interviews).

The opportunity

When so much time is spent debating how AI and automation might replace roles, it’s easy to forget that these very same technologies have a huge role to play in finding, securing and retaining employees. Never has this been so relevant than in modern-day business when finding the right talent and skills is proving more challenging than ever. 

One of the most obvious benefits of AI is that it can automate tedious and monotonous tasks thus saving a recruiter’s time, and freeing them up to focus on more value-added and strategic initiatives. AI’s capacity to break down and analyse big data enables recruiters to filter and shortlist in a faster and more effective way.

AI is also beneficial to candidates, often improving their experience of the recruitment process. For example, AI-based chatbots can reduce the downtime between candidate and recruiter, conversing with them and answering queries.

Finally, AI technology has the potential to reduce bias (although bias is also a risk – see below) at the sourcing stage by ignoring candidate demographics, such as race, gender and age, in its decision-making.

Cautionary considerations

While the benefits of AI are well documented, there are a few shortcomings to keep in mind when proceeding with new technology:

1/ It is no substitute for a human - While AI offers great potential in some areas, it will never deliver the same deep expertise, empathy, and humanity of the human recruiter. AI cannot establish a relationship with a candidate, nor can it assess interpersonal skills and cultural fit, traits often critical to a successful appointment.

2/ It is not 100% perfect - Because artificial intelligence pre-screens candidate resumes before they are seen by a human, there is always the chance that a candidate will get eliminated too early in the process. Some candidates may also become intimidated or irritated to discover they are talking with a machine, and never bother to complete the pre-interview requirements. 

3/ Prejudices – We consider machines to be impartial and fact-orientated, incapable of making personal judgments. But it still takes a human recruiter to set up customisations in the software, which can increase the rate and number of biased decisions made.

 Any machine-learning algorithm is only as good as the training data it learns from, so if the initial data is biased the tool will inevitably reflect this.

Business leaders have to take steps to ensure their organisations are using their tools in an ethical manner and employees must be trained in and have a clear understanding of what they will be implementing. 

Key to Success

There is no denying that AI is here to stay and as technology advances, the recruitment industry will have to adapt and innovate to remain competitive.

Changing ways of working and changing hiring methods – embracing both AI and the human element of HR – are going to shape the future of the recruitment industry. 

As long as AI is used responsibly, to enhance rather than replace the human function relating to recruitment, then the benefits can undoubtedly be huge. My belief is that when the soft skills of HR such as human empathy and judgment combined with the powerful analytic and data-driven capabilities of AI, that’s where things can get really exciting!

Emma Kieran

Emma Kieran

Emma Kieran is a Consultant at Clarendon Executive, specialists in executive search, performance and the provision of interim management in Northern Ireland. With five years’ specialist experience in the executive search industry, Emma works with many of Northern Ireland’s top 100 companies helping them find the best candidates for business-critical roles.

Contact:

Emma.Kieran@clarendonexecutive.com

Tel: +44(0)28 9072 5750

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