Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Recruiting – Salvation at Last?

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When most people think of AI – Artificial Intelligence – visions of robots or synthetic little boys who look like Haley Joel Osment and venture on Pinocchio-esque quests may spring to mind. But thanks to ground-breaking apps with whimsical names such as SmashFly and Mya, the heavy lifting part of recruiting the most qualified talent is becoming vastly faster, easier and more accurate than anything we could have imagined even five years ago. And if that isn’t enough, the new AI can treat candidates better than humans. But of course there are risks.

Although you may not be aware, AI is probably already a part of your life. If you use Siri on your iPhone or have Amazon Echo (Alexa), you can say something vague like, “What’s the weather going to be tomorrow?” or “I’m hungry.” AI within the device has already computed where you are, so AIexa or Siri can fill in the blanks and provide an accurate forecast or a list of nearby restaurants.

AI is also being heavily integrated into your future: A “descendant” of IBM’s Watson, sometimes called the paragon of artificial intelligence, is focused on health, working with radiologists to better distinguish between benign and malignant tumors. Next? Self-driving vehicles: A company called Otto (now owned by Uber) has designed AI hardware kits incorporating radar, cameras and laser sensors that have made semi-trucks capable of driving themselves. Their “Otto” drove itself 120 miles and delivered 45,000 cans of beer. Google and Nissan are also developing AI-equipped self-driving vehicles.

So how exactly can AI specifically help recruiting? It can potentially reduce time to hire, improve the quality of hire, and make the experience for job candidates far better.

Let’s start at the beginning of the recruitment process: AI can source candidates, predicting how well a candidate will do in a job. People looking for work already have a lot information about themselves readily available on social media and job sites. AI, for example, can review candidates’ LinkedIn profiles, learning as it goes, and match skills to available job prerequisites. CareerBuilder and Ideal also offer such functionality. And it can review thousands of resumes in seconds.

Integrated within an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), AI can review resumes, select qualified candidates for interview, and schedule meetings. In the process, it can also review candidates who applied for, but were not chosen for, other positions – yet may offer the right qualifications for a different role.

Perhaps an inadvertent benefit of using such an automated system is the exclusion of any human biases, prejudices or other subjective judgments that could possibly eliminate qualified candidates. For more on this subject, please see HireRight’s blog on Blind Recruitment.

Once potentially-qualified candidates have been selected, AI can then directly communicate with them, relieving overworked recruiters from the time-consuming responsibility and moving job seekers forward through the talent pipeline. Chatbots can work with organizations’ Customer Management Systems (CMS). SmashFly offers a platform that integrates with CMS and provides a dashboard that graphically depicts current status, analytics and metrics on the recruitment processes.

According to an article in Forbes, an AI application called Mya, billed as the first fully automatic recruiting assistant, “engages with applicants, poses contextual questions based on job requirements, and provides personalized updates, feedback, and next-step suggestions.” Mya can make sense of, and immediately respond to, questions related to the job and the employer. If completely stumped by an inquiry, Mya will contact the recruiter to gain the correct answer, respond to the candidate, and retain the correct answer for the next time the question is asked. The article further states, “Studies suggest the Mya platform improves recruiter efficiency by 38% and increases candidate engagement by over 150%. Even more impressively, candidates are three times more likely to hear back from a recruiter if they respond to Mya’s questions.”

In an age where competition for the best employees places significant emphasis on the “candidate experience,” effective communication with job applicants – even if provided by an app rather than a human – may provide a positive impression for candidates, leading to a favorable opinion of, and possibly elevating, the employer’s brand. That alone may count for a lot. What happens when a candidate doesn’t hear back? The effects can be devastating, as revealed in HireRight’s “Après Interview – When Employers Don’t Get Back to Candidates.”

So what’s next?

Watson is being tooled for HR, scouring its enormous repository of data accumulated over years to offer recommendations on job candidates. A resource called Affectiva can help analyze a candidate’s performance during a video interview, analyzing facial expressions, choice of words, and tone of voice to help measure a candidate’s honesty. HireIQ, which states it’s the leader in virtual interview and predictive analysis, also analyzes candidates’ voices specifically for people seeking employment with contact centers.

Will AI as applied to HR eliminate the job of the recruiter? It’s doubtful, at least for the foreseeable future; human judgment will almost certainly remain the ultimate arbiter in the hiring process. But AI can certainly streamline and improve the recruiting process.

But remember, AI learns as it goes. As seen above, that may be great in responding to candidates’ questions, but it may also offer risk during the actual sourcing process. For example, if an AI app, after reviewing thousands of candidates for thousands of jobs “realizes” that a significant number of candidates it has “recommended” are 25 year-old males with five years of experience, it may engineer its own algorithm that results in a preference for candidates who first meet those criteria, or could choose to exclude those candidates altogether as a result of fears of over-saturation of this candidate type.

As effective as it may be, perhaps AI will always need flesh-and-blood oversight to ensure that vital human touch.

Lewis Lustman

Lewis Lustman is a content marketer who enjoys developing materials that engage, inform, challenge, and hopefully entertain my audience. Lewis is a formal journalist for Los Angeles Magazine and the Los Angeles Times, and has worked for a number of leading advertising, marketing, technology, and PR firms over the years. Interested in a topic that he hasn't yet tackled? Drop him a line in the comments section!

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