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Opinion The future of recruiting is (obviously) AI

  • March 15 2017, 7:20am EDT

The world of sci-fi books and movies has long loved to speculate about what forms artificial intelligence will take in our future lives.

In fact, AI already influences many, many aspects of our daily lives: AI knows what news we’ll find interesting online and on our social networks, what’s likely at the top of our shopping list, if someone other than us is using our credit card account and which movies we’ll want to see when we plan a cozy evening at home to “Netflix and chill.”

So it’s absolutely no surprise that AI will impact the way we manage our recruiting efforts, too.

I recently spoke with Daniel Kraft, president and CEO of Sitrion, about the future of AI in recruiting. Here’s what he had to say about it.

The AI era of recruiting is already underway

“Limited human capacity stands in high contrast to the unbeatable speed and computing power of software,” says Kraft. “That speed is already at work for the U.S. Army in the form of SGT STAR, a Q&A chatbot that has fielded 11 million questions and equals the efforts of 55 Army recruiters. Meanwhile, HP and CNN are integrating rudimentary AI into their workflows, and, in July, the AI-powered Mya was launched with the intention of one day automating 75 percent of the recruiting for FirstJob, a job search site for new graduates. With the ability to understand and react to complex information and patterns, recruiting bots will be able to process more candidates, schedule more meetings and review more résumés than any human possibly could.”

Bots beat humans in speed and scope

He continued, “Software beats humans not only in speed but also in scope. With increased digitalization of our lives through social networks, recruiting bots can thoroughly index candidates’ network connections and use that as predictive data. In some cases, systems can even monitor social media to forecast when candidates are ready for a job change — a capability far beyond human recruiters.”

AI will help eliminate hiring bias

“It seems obvious, but with judgment comes bias, which is also part of humans’ repertoire,” Kraft explained. “Look at Google, a company with hiring practices that have yielded a workforce with only 9 percent non-white, non-Asian employees, which despite good intentions happens to us and many other technology companies as well. Companies that master unbiased hiring can mitigate this potential blow to their reputations. Machines can be impartial, with no biases regarding candidates’ backgrounds, genders or anything else. Biases are much easier to pinpoint in a line of code than they are in a human mind, making them much easier to remove.”

Will AI replace the HR admin? Maybe

“This technology will one day replace basic jobs. Scheduling meetings, sorting through résumés and sending update emails will soon be automated. A retention AI could also screen the whole staff and see who's at risk to leave, who's outperforming and who should get special attention,” said Kraft. “But what does this mean for HR departments? If anything, it means an opportunity for evolution. As AI takes on the administrative work, HR professionals will be able to focus on where they're really needed: employee engagement, team motivation and productivity.”

Bots still have their limitations—for now

“The human factor—or lack thereof—is a key topic when considering bots,” says Kraft. “Will companies seem more impersonal with machines as part of recruiting communications? Will that alienate candidates? It’s an understandable concern. Some of the subtler judgments may also be more challenging for bots, at least at first. For example, business is a team sport, so companies must hire for cultural fit.

But bots may need time to understand culture in an organization and match candidates well. Leaders might aim to circumvent this issue by using AI for the initial screening process and keeping a human phase at the final in-person interview to focus on personality and culture.”

In conclusion, Kraft says recruitment departments should look forward to what’s coming.

“While this technological evolution is on the way, it's not quite ready just yet. The key for today's HR departments is to keep utilization of this software agile for when tech development inevitably shifts into exciting, unexpected directions.”

(About the author: Jerome Ternynck is chief executive officer at SmartRecruiters)

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