According to the Economist, 47% of all jobs will be automated by 2034. That’s a very significant change over a 16 year period. However, it has also been reported as the biggest commercial opportunity for the economy, predicted to add £232bn to UK GDP by 2030.
A.I. is trending again. Let’s all jump on the bandwagon…
There are many stages in hiring a new employee, from initial advertising for the position to onboarding your new hire into their new environment, to providing ongoing development once employed. This process alone can be expensive and any mistakes along the way could lead to the new hire leaving a mere 6 months later, costing your company upwards of £30K in lost productivity and costs from having to re-start the recruitment process all over again!
In recruitment Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) has been marketed as a shiny new way to improve your hiring processes, supposedly helping to increase reliability and efficiency while simultaneously reducing costs and recruiter workload. But when it comes to recruitment, what exactly is A.I.? And is it all just hype?
What is A.I. in recruitment?
Artificial intelligence is the means of utilising machine learning and algorithms to identify correlations across various datasets. In recruiting this means any recruitment data that you would generally expect to be associated with a candidate, such as previous work experience or psychometric assessment results.
At its core A.I. is the science of trying to make computers do things that would usually need human intervention or intelligence to accomplish.
All of this helps recruiters to save time and (hopefully) make better hiring decisions faster than just relying on manual processes and gut instinct alone.
Artificial intelligence… or stupidity?
While all the recent hype is about artificial intelligence, did you know it has an opposite? Dubbed A.S. or Artificial Stupidity, this term is often used in a derogatory manner to describe A.I. when it’s unable to perform its tasks adequately.
Just ask retail giant Amazon, who discontinued a recruitment tool used for sifting high volumes of cvs because it disproportionately favoured male applicants. The algorithms, in simple terms, scanned resumes and made recommendations for ‘good’ candidates based on resumes submitted to the company over the last 10 years.
However, due to the existing male dominance in the tech industry the algorithm began to identify any reference to being a woman as a negative attribute, and then subsequently disregarded the CV. The algorithm was eventually amended to correct for this phenomenon but as there was no way of knowing if it would continue to sift based on other discriminatory qualities, its use was discontinued.
Amazon claims that no hiring decisions were made based solely on this algorithm, but it goes to show how machine learning bias is a genuine issue in recruitment.
Benefits of A.I. in recruitment
- Can help to reduce hiring bias:
One advantage of A.I. is that the process is automated, there is much less room for the types of unconscious biases that are likely to be involved as with human candidate selection. Even if we aren’t aware, one may be swayed by information such as a candidate’s age, gender, name or what they look like. When A.I. is used these details can be reliably ignored and instead relevant information can be picked out with no outside influence.
- Speeds up the process:
A.I. programs can scan CVs for relevant information, remove any erroneous details and categorise candidates based on what they find for recruiters to review at a later date. This is the most time consuming process for human recruiters to sit through, so this luxury saves vast amounts of time meaning that recruiters have a spare moment to work on building real meaningful human relationships with prospective employees in the final stages of the process. Which A.I. can’t do ... yet.
- Better job descriptions:
A. I. can help to draw in the best candidates for your position through enhanced job descriptions. Writing tools can help you write in a descriptive yet clear style as well as helping to pick out words which will resonate with particular target groups and avoid confusing jargon. If your job description is more attractive, more candidates are likely to apply to fill the vacancy.
- More engaging for applicants:
Once prospective candidates have read through an advert or applied for a position online, chatbots can be used to keep the candidate engaged and informed. Chatbots are computer programs used within a website and are most commonly formatted like a messenger service at one side of the screen – inviting you to interact with them should you have any questions. They can mimic conversations with people to provide information and are handily available all hours of the day with knowledge of a variety of information unlike their human counterparts. They can pop up as candidates scroll down a page or once they have applied to answer any questions or worries they might have. This constant support will make candidates more willing to apply and feel valued even as a potential employee.
- Easier video interviewing at scale:
Video interviews are increasingly common, especially within international companies, however not without their downfalls. For example, due to difficulty in controlling interview conditions there may be an inconsistent level of formality or access to additional information despite candidates being given interview conduct guidelines. A.I. could be used, for example, to measure the eye movements of a candidate to determine whether they are sneakily looking at resources (such as cue cards), or closely monitor sound to see if there is someone else helping with answers.
- Wider pool of candidates:
Recruiters often look for candidates that aren’t currently applying for jobs but for those who could be headhunted from existing positions. A.I. can meticulously search through social media, personal sites and chat rooms to predict the likelihood that someone is open to a job change as well as whether they would be a good fit for the position.
- Fewer costly mistakes:
The stress and time pressure involved in recruiting new hires can result in less than ideal decision making. False positive candidates who appear to be a good fit for the position but turn out to be a mistake and false negative candidates who are wrongly overlooked are both common. All the above benefits show that using A.I. means the process is more rigorous and simple at the same time, helping to avoid these issues.
- Higher retention:
Following on from the previous point, a more accurate and thought out recruitment process will mean a higher calibre of candidates who are also a better fit for the company are brought on to be members of the team. In turn, this means candidates feel they can thrive in the workplace. They are motivated to stay and share their full potential.
Are there any downsides to using AI in recruitment?
‘’It just replaces human bias with machine bias’’
Machines don’t discriminate. Or do they? Well, just ask Janet Hill, who was unlucky enough to be rejected for an Apple credit card based on nothing but her gender while her husband was accepted with no problems...
Or maybe she’d just slapped her TV in anger the night before to try and make it get a better picture. And you thought the robots were here to help us?
Here’s what the VP of AI for Google Cloud, Andrew Moore said of AI in 2018;
"AI is currently very, very stupid. It’s really good at doing certain things which our brains can't handle, but it's not something we could press to do general-purpose reasoning involving things like analogies or creative thinking or jumping outside the box."
- Andrew Moore, VP of AI for Google Cloud
Ultimately most machine learning algorithms are only as good as the people inputting the data or the data that’s being put into them.
This means that despite the best efforts of our new computer overlords, there is always going to be some room for error as humans make mistakes (yes even the clevr ones who build this stuff).
What does this mean for recruiters?
All this new technology means recruiters will need to stay on top of the latest trends and be adaptable enough to use this new technology effectively.
When selecting a new software system to support organisational recruitment processes recruiters will need to;
- Be more rigorous in checking that the companies supplying the software on offer can actually back up their claims
- Be careful of being swayed by marketing buzzwords (companies adding 'A.I.' in front of everything is an obvious one here)
- Not expect that A.I. will do everything for them - there will still need to be some element of human involvement in the recruitment process
If you want to utilise the power of computer based intelligence in your recruitment processes without the marketing hyperbole, then the Clevry Assessment Platform can help. Just get in touch with one of the team directly or book a quick demo online.