Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the recruitment field – opportunity or risk?

You start by publishing a job vacancy, inviting suitable candidates to interviews, and then decide whether or not to hire a particular candidate. That’s roughly how all recruitment went in the past, but those days are long gone. What kind of opportunity does artificial intelligence represent?

At a time when skilled workers are getting harder to find, while vacancies need to be filled faster than ever, and the process for recruiting suitable candidates becomes increasingly onerous, the calls for help are becoming ever louder — whether this takes the form of suitably adapted, technical systems, more staff to support HR, or even artificial intelligence.

The first of those solutions is heavily dependent on the company’s internal organisational structure and IT, and requires careful examination to establish whether the systems are suitable for the business. Moreover, employees who are expected to work with these systems require training and, in the initial phase at least, will also require support. Depending on the size of the business, all this takes a great deal of time.

Another option is to hire more staff to recruit candidates. However, this idea often falls short due to a lack of budget or a lack of conviction by management that there is an enhanced need for staff.

Meanwhile, businesses are increasingly considering whether artificial intelligence would be an effective complement to the first two options named above. It has already become commonplace to talk to machines. We talk to Siri or Alexa to get them to play our favourite music or call our friends, while at the Otto mail order company, Clara the chatbot already answers all our questions. So why not have job interviews with robots as well?


What does AI mean?

Artificial intelligence (AI) relates to the automation of intelligent behaviour and machine learning. AI is modelled on the human brain and develops constantly – i.e., the machine learns.

AI is already deployed to many aspects of our everyday lives, for instance in medicine, the automotive industry, farming, and energy, where its saves costs and time while streamlining processes.

It follows, therefore, that AI can also play a supporting role in other aspects of our lives.


Artificial intelligence is making inroads into the world of recruitment.

Artificial intelligence in a business context is becoming a reality.

Implementing AI in recruitment

Some businesses already rely on artificial workers for their recruitment. Companies like Pepsi and Ikea, for example, use “Vera” to select candidates and to carry out job interviews independently, before Vera chooses the really interesting candidates and hands over the job to a flesh-and-blood HR employee. “Vera” searches for suitable candidates in online job portals, independently carries out interviews using video chat or phone calls, and answers the candidates’ questions. She also gets better as she goes along, because “Vera” is an artificial intelligence and learns from every interview that she undertakes.

“Vera” is a software application, published by the Russian startup, Strafory, and has so far been deployed in businesses that receive thousands of applications. “Vera” is primarily used in these businesses to pre-select genuinely relevant candidates, as completing the first round in the selection process takes up particularly large amounts of time and effort.


 
 

The future of recruitments - Vera the robot recruits candidates for businesses.- The Economic Times


“Matilda” is another example. This robot was developed at the University of Melbourne and comes equipped with 76 questions to be able to carry out a 25-minute interview, once she has read the interview documents. “Matilda” can read candidates’ emotions from their faces and react with empathy.

Whereas “Vera” was primarily developed for jobs such as office workers, waiters or builders, Matilda’s question bank is primarily aimed at retail positions. One way or another, both AIs need to develop in order to represent a genuine labour saving for businesses’ recruitment departments and to gain the ability to be deployed to support a wider range of specialist employment skills.


Advantages and disadvantages of AI in recruitment

The advantages of AI in recruitment consist of more than just the thousands of interviews that “Vera” and other robots can complete each day. In addition, AI never becomes ill or tired, can speak multiple languages, and can work around the clock, independently of time zones. “Vera” can additionally change “her” gender to be positioned to meet candidates’ full range of expectations. Moreover, robots do not discriminate and never reach a decision based on a “gut feeling.” Instead, they are objective and neutral, and are free from prejudices and dislikes. As described, what sets AI apart is its continuous machine learning, meaning that it learns more and more about candidates, and can use its interfaces to find out even more information about the candidate from the internet in just a few seconds, and combine this information to reach new judgements. This means that the AI has access to a picture of a candidate that is more comprehensive than one formed by a human HR officer, meaning that AI may be in a position to make a more effective judgement as to whether a candidate is truly the right fit.

However, isn’t people’s variability one of the factors that makes a business a high-performance, creative place to work? The risk that businesses will only consist of “cookie-cutter” employees is a serious one. How are constructive discussions and dialogues supposed to develop if all employees fit the same ideal?

Data protection is another side of the coin. Human resources specialists are particularly divided on the subject of whether it is a breach of data protection laws for robots to collect data about a candidate from the internet and to use that data in a hiring decision, whether or not the data was made available with the subject’s consent. This is another reason why many businesses take a critical stance in respect of using AI in the recruitment process.

As a result, we should consider whether we want to place such a future-oriented decision as this - whether to give someone a job – in the hands of an artificial intelligence. Naturally, the benefit of non-discrimination in the selection of candidates is highly relevant. Nonetheless, interpersonal relations and the consideration that an employee needs both the right specialist skills and the ability to fit in with the rest of the team should not be overlooked. For that reason, we still need human recruiters who can judge whether candidates will fit in with the company’s structure, in terms of their personality as well as their capabilities.


Summary

Nonetheless, every business must proceed with digital transformation. Suitably qualified and skilled workers are getting harder to find, making the recruitment process more difficult and demanding more creative ideas from recruiters. Simply publishing a “help wanted” advert is nowhere near sufficient in the modern world: suitably skilled workers must be actively sought out and approached. As such, the decision to obtain support through artificial intelligence is only a matter of time.

While AI should undoubtedly be used to support the process, it will never replace personal contact between HR professionals and candidates.

ARTS also uses a matching tool to select its candidates and the right roles for them. However, the final say always rests with the human HR team. If you have found a job on our online jobs board that interests you, and would like to discuss the vacancy further, please don’t hesitate to contact our team, apply for a job for a job directly or send us a speculative application.


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