What is AI and how is it Impacting Recruiting?

Let’s start with a definition. There are a multitude of definitions as to what AI is, however we’ve decided to stick to two to try and keep this as simple as possible:

AI stands for Artificial Intelligence and as per the Oxford English dictionary is:

The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.

In its simplest form artificial intelligence is when a machine can imitate human intelligence. Amazon defines AI as:

The field of computer science dedicated to solving cognitive problems commonly associated with human intelligence, such as learning, problem solving, and pattern recognition.

Now, there are a lot of discussions around whether we are seeing “real AI” in HR or not. So while we’re definitely not seeing examples of Artificial General Intelligence in HR yet (and won’t do for many years to come), we are seeing the use of techniques that are considered to be subsets of AI, such as Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing, and in the use cases I describe below, we are now seeing real applications of these types of techniques in HR.

So, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s look at one of the main areas that we are seeing AI impact HR - Recruitment. Recruitment is an area of HR that continues to be a challenge, with the types of jobs and skills that are needed constantly changing and large numbers of individuals now applying easily online, recruiters are faced with the role of finding a needle in a haystack – the right candidate.  Employing the wrong individual can obviously have both a financial impact in loss of productivity and turnover costs but can also lead to adverse effects impacting team moral and employee engagement. In an ideal world we would feel confident we can find and hire the right candidate every time, however, when so many hiring decisions are still based on gut feel, hiring errors are still incredibly common. Fear not, all hope is not lost. This is where AI begins to play quite a key role, especially in the area of recruitment. In this article we’re going to discuss four key areas that AI can help improve the recruitment process.

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1. Augmented Writing

One area where we are really seeing AI make an impact is in the area of augmented writing. Augmented writing is where text is analysed either as we type or after the fact, and recommendations are offered to improve the content of the text. This can be seen in tools such as Grammarly among others. So, how is this being leveraged in the recruitment space? Well, augmented writing is being seen in the recruitment field to help with the creation of job descriptions and to help recruiters with job postings. This application of AI offers recruiters or hiring managers a way to determine how well written their job description is, by advising them on the changes that could consider to make their job posting as effective as possible. Textio is one of the most well known vendors in this space. Their tool provides you with a score that helps indicate how effective your current posting is, and even offers language suggestions to help get a more qualified and diverse candidate pool. Check out the video below to see how their tool is transforming the way job descriptions are being written.

2. Sourcing

While it is now easier to find passive talent than it was 10 or 20 years ago, due to the growth of platforms like LinkedIn, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find and then attract and engage the best candidates, as great candidates are becoming inundated with messages from recruiters.

The first way that we are seeing AI impact sourcing is through the automation of the search process. AI can be leveraged to assist with the search for top talent by automating the search for passive candidates across multiple databases and by using various adjacent search terms to uncover hidden talent that might not normally be found with a recruiter’s usual search terms. By training an AI sourcing tool and providing feedback on the candidates that it finds, recruiters can not only speed up the time it might usually take them to conduct a search, but also uncover high quality candidates that they might not have otherwise found.

AI is also being leveraged to refresh the profiles of dormant candidates that have been engaged in previous recruitment campaigns and are now overlooked in the company ATS or CRM. AI, often in the form of chatbots, can be used to re-engage dormant candidates to nudge them to update their profiles and to gather new data on the skills that they possess. By doing this, overlooked candidates that are already in your database and are familiar with your company can be re-engaged against new roles.

Here are some of the vendors that are gaining traction in the Sourcing space and have some form of AI in their platforms:

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3. Assessment and Selection

Game-based assessments and other newer forms of AI-driven assessment have caused quite a stir in the last few years and many organisations are experimenting with them as an alternative form of psychometric testing. The main reason for this is that they can provide a more engaging candidate experience, while significantly reducing the time it takes to take the assessment. Questionnaire-based personality or cognitive ability tests are often time consuming and can see a high candidate dropout rate as a result, so this is why we have seen a large interest in exploring these new tools and technologies.

The theory with many of the new assessment tools is that in as little as 10 or 15 minutes, they can provide the same amount of data on the candidate as a traditional psychometric test. However, it is important to note that game-based and AI-driven assessments have not been as well tested as traditional assessment methods from an academic or scientific perspective and while they are clearly improving experience, you may see a trade-off in their ability to predict performance. This is something to be aware of when you speak to any of the new assessment providers (some of which we have included below), and make sure that you ask the right questions around the evidence that they can provide around the accuracy of the tool and how their accuracy compares to the more established tools that have been around for many years.

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4. Chatbots

As we previously discussed, chatbots can be leveraged to pre-screen candidates and maintain the accuracy of your internal candidate database. However, we’ve also seen a rise in the use of chatbots in maintaining candidate engagement throughout the recruitment process. We’ve all experienced long silences during the recruitment process, wondering whether your application made it or ended up in an abyss never to be seen again once you clicked that send button. Well the use of chatbots can radically improve that experience.

They can be used to reduce the load on recruiters managing multiple requisitions and be more responsive by answering candidate questions throughout the recruitment process and even as part of onboarding, thus reducing the expectations on the recruiter and improving candidate experience at the same time. There are also some great examples of how chatbots can be used to help to automate the scheduling interviews and even to nudge managers to complete certain tasks, such as ordering a laptop ready for Day 1, or providing interview feedback.

Here are some of the chatbot vendors that we are seeing impact recruitment and the broader HR space.

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While AI and automation throughout the recruitment process is still relatively limited there is huge scope for real improvements to support the candidate experience, as well as helping organisations find the right candidates for their roles. With that said, while AI has shown large improvement and great potential there is still a strong need for human intervention throughout the recruitment process and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

To learn more about how AI is impacting HR, subscribe to myHRfuture for all you can learn access to our online training courses for HR.

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Online Training on AI in HR and the Future of Work

If you are looking to learn more about the impact of AI on HR and the Future of Work then check out the myHRfuture academy online course on the Future of Work titled 'An introduction to AI in HR and the Future of Work' that is taught by Ian Bailie and Soumyasanto Sen. It's a great introductory course for anyone interested in learning more about how AI is disrupting the HR function.

The objective of this course is to provide you with a solid foundation of what the rise of new vendors incorporating AI and machine learning means to HR and how to consider building such tools into your digital HR strategy. On completing this e-learning module you will become much more fluent in understanding what the impact of AI is on HR and how the Future of Work is impacting all of our lives.

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Ian Bailie is the Managing Director of myHRfuture.com and an advisor and consultant for start-ups focused on HR technology and People Analytics, including Adepto, Worklytics and CognitionX. In his previous role as the Senior Director of People Planning, Analytics and Tools at Cisco Systems, he was responsible for delivering the tools and insights to enable and transform the planning, attraction and management of talent across the organisation globally. Ian is passionate about HR technology and analytics and how to use both to transform the employee experience and prepare companies for the Future of Work.