The Risks and Rewards of AI in Recruiting

The Risks and Rewards of AI in Recruiting

Mitchell Buchanan Jun 20, 2018 9:28:18 AM

One of the most tedious tasks that any recruiter will undertake is candidate screening. It often takes a human eye to notice the details in a candidate’s resume, from traits and skills to work history and career progression. Once this is completed, then the job turns to calling candidates for a phone screen to try to determine if it’s worth it to invite them for interviews. Soon, this process could be streamlined pretty dramatically - and it's all thanks to advancements in Artificial Intelligence.

Recruiters are rated by many performance factors (called KPIs), which include time to fill, time to hire, qualified candidates per hire, and interviews per hire. The more time it takes to narrow down a pile of resumes to a small group of potentials can drive up the cost per hire, and reduce recruiter metrics. One article on Recruiterbox advised that the it can take as much as 23.5 hours to review candidates and another 4 hours of time conducting pre-employment screening -- an effort that can rack up another $687 to the cost of hiring a new person.

AI-enabled recruitment tools make it possible to speed up the process of hiring people and improve recruitment KPIs. Essentially replacing some of the human functions of recruitment, there are some key advantages and potential disadvantages to consider.

What are the most practical applications for AI in the preliminary stages of the hiring process?

The biggest advantage of using AI in the early stages of recruitment (pre-interview) is the time spent reviewing candidate qualifications. An ATS resume checker can effectively screen all incoming candidate resumes for specific job requisitions. If the resumes display the right skill keywords, education level, and other job-specific information; it goes on to the next phase. The benefit of not having to read through every resume is monumental. The setback is when a resume doesn’t scan correctly in the ATS for a technical reason or a poor format and an otherwise suitable candidate gets overlooked.

Pro Tip: Here's how pre-screening and candidate experience go hand in hand.

Another good use of AI in the pre-interview phase is to improve the candidate experience by being more responsive. Modern applicant tracking systems can send messages that are personalized so that it seems less like an email autoresponder. Regular communication with candidates is important because it can keep them in the loop about what is happening, what to expect next, and if they should be prepared to interview soon. This helps the business because a company that makes an effort to make the candidate experience a positive one ends up with higher levels of employee engagement for the long-term.

In what ways does AI help improve these pre-interview functions?

Pre-employment screening can also involve activities such as background checks, employment verification, and candidate assessments. When these functions are automated and aided by machine learning, this can provide a more complete profile for individual candidates. This helps recruiters to make better and faster hiring decisions.

Some of the more recent AI-recruitment technology allows candidates to record a video interview in which they answer a few career-related questions. This video is then analyzed by an artificial intelligence recruit-bot that provides them feedback so they can continue to practice and improve. This is powerful given that more people are interviewing from remote locations using video conferencing. Candidates are able to promote themselves better and recruiters are able to meet a less nervous candidate -- which reveals more about their personality.

Pro Tip: Discover how to improve candidate experience with an ATS.

Other artificial intelligence systems allow chatbots to handle the pre-screening process by asking a series of interview questions. The AI adapts to the candidate and tailors questions based on the candidate’s responses as well as information found on their application. Sometimes candidates can’t believe they are not talking to a real human! This can be a major time saver that gives recruiters more time to focus on bringinging in the most suitable candidates and placing them in jobs before the competition does.

What potential pitfalls should HR professionals be aware of when it comes to AI?

HR professionals must be mindful that no technology is 100% perfect, nor should it ever fully replace a human touch. However, as more recruitment systems rapidly move in this direction, every organization will want to evaluate the potential pitfalls and benefits it offers.

Because artificial intelligence pre-screens candidate resumes before they are seen by a real person, there is always the chance that a candidate will get eliminated too early in the process. Some candidates may become intimidated or annoyed when they discover they are talking with a machine, and never bother to complete the pre-interview requirements. Passive candidates may not even be willing to engage with an AI-recruitment system -- what’s the motivation?

Then there is the question of the validity of machine learning in human resources, which seems ironic. Professionals who have had years of experience understanding people may not like the idea that a robot is now analyzing people and making decisions for them. Skilled recruiters know that there will always be candidates who will say and do anything to get a job, including outsmarting a computer. This presents some level of risk that cannot be blamed on anyone.

Some have said that AI-recruitment tools are designed to eliminate unconscious bias in the hiring process. But consider that it still takes a human recruiter to set up customizations in the software, which can basically just increase the rate and number of biased decisions made. And even if candidates get a pass to the next round, the recruiter could still judge them based on personal preferences.

Check out additional hiring strategies designed to reduce turnover in your organization. Download our free infographic to learn more.

How can artificial intelligence understand the corporate culture in order to hire people who are a good fit? Sure, there are some more AI recruitment platforms that can highlight certain personality traits or values (data gathered through candidate assessments), but until you meet with someone in person and hear their thoughts and ideas, it’s not easy to determine if they share the same ideals of the business.

Before choosing any AI-recruitment solution, be sure to talk these things over with any vendors. There are many choices in recruitment technology that can be suitable for your business recruitment goals, many with built-in aspects of AI that can support better KPIs.

Has AI made its way into your hiring process? Where do you use it? Let us know in the comments!

Topics: Employee Engagement, Applicant Tracking Systems

Mitchell Buchanan

Written by Mitchell Buchanan

Mitchell is a Marketing Operations Specialist at The McQuaig Institute. He is a University of Waterloo graduate in the field of Speech Communication, with a specialization in Digital Arts Communication.