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How to Sound Smart When Talking About AI in Recruitment

James McGill, VP International Customer Success, EMEA and APAC, HireVueScience Tech2018 09 24
How to Sound Smart When Talking About AI in Recruitment
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Since artificial intelligence has achieved “buzzword” status in the recruitment industry, it’s become all too easy for recruiting leaders to feel overwhelmed and confused by the sheer volume of information thrown their way on the topic. There is an ever-growing number of AI products on the market, each with its own technical jargon and a claim to be even better than the product before — and no end of people having an opinion on how, and indeed whether, you should be using them.

From concerns that the “machines are taking over” to worries about the impact of AI on diversity and bias, recruiting leaders today face challenging questions from business leads, colleagues and candidates alike regarding the use of AI in the hiring process. But how equipped do you feel to answer them?

With the UNLEASH World Conference & Expo around the corner, and AI certain to be a huge topic of discussion, this article can serve as your handy “cheat sheet” to help you navigate the most tricky questions, debunk some common myths and ensure you sound smart to your peers in the process.

But before we dive into the questions, let’s first ensure we’re all on the same page when it comes to defining the most popular AI terminology, which is a significant cause of confusion in itself:

  • Artificial intelligence: This is a broad term with a variety of definitions, but we quite like Gartner’s description of AI as “technology that appears to emulate human performance typically by learning [and] coming to its own conclusions.”
  • Machine learning: Machine learning is a subset of AI and is the most advanced type of AI technology on the market today. Machine learning is based on algorithms that use the human reasoning process to comprehend data, learn from it and then make a prediction.
  • Robots: Another term with nearly unlimited definitions, but put simply, a robot is a physical machine that’s capable of acting automatically or autonomously.

So now that we have the key terms defined, let’s cover some of the most pressing topics as they relate to using AI in the hiring process.

Does AI Remove Decision-Making Power from Humans?

The myth: Robots are making decisions on who gets hired, and humans have limited control over the process.

The reality: AI in recruitment typically involves machine learning algorithms — not robots — which are created by humans for humans to help hiring managers make more informed decisions at an early stage in the interview process. The AI can indicate which subset of candidates within a given pool is most likely to be successful when compared with people already performing the job. That information is then provided to human recruiters as decision support. As such, the AI can suggest who is likely to be the best fit, but the decision of whom to hire continues to lie solely with human hiring managers.

Does AI Complicate the Hiring Process for Candidates?

The myth: Adding a layer of technology to the process will discourage good candidates from applying for a role.

The reality: Over the past couple of decades, traditional methods of hiring have gained a poor reputation for being difficult and time consuming for candidates — which can influence candidates’ likelihood of continuing to pursue a role at that company, or worse of being vocal about their bad experience. This is why AI becomes a valuable tool — not only can it streamline administrative tasks such as scheduling interviews, but it also offers a more simplified and positive experience for applicants. For example, rather than spending three hours completing a multiple-choice questionnaire sat at a desk, a candidate can now spend less than 30 minutes completing an AI-driven pre-assessment on their smartphone from the comfort of their living room.

Can AI Lead to Increased Bias in the Interview Process?

The myth: AI cannot make fair decisions and has the potential to replicate human bias.

The reality: Decades of research have shown that traditional interviews are full of implicit and explicit bias, and tremendous inconsistency. While algorithms negate a lot of this, it’s important to acknowledge that they can be at risk of inheriting the biases of humans. This is why vendors must be committed to an ethical, rigorous and ongoing process of testing and mitigating for the presence of bias in their technology. When operated correctly, AI will only pay attention to those factors which research has proven to be predictive of success in the job — it does not have the “gut instinct” that humans often use to make unconsciously biased decisions.

Is AI Going to Eventually Take Over the Recruiting Process?

The myth: Robots are going to steal our jobs, and we should start panicking right away.

The reality: This concern spans all industries as AI continues to advance and bring new opportunities to the modern workforce. While nobody can predict the future, this type of scenario is very unlikely for the recruitment industry. Technology may affect the type of work we expect humans to do, but there’s a strong argument that it will actually make hiring more human, enabling recruiters to spend more of their time with the most suitable applicants and providing a more personalized candidate experience in the process.

Ultimately, as AI’s use in recruitment evolves and progresses, there will undoubtedly be a variety of new questions and misconceptions to discuss and overcome. These conversations are vital to ensure the technology continues to play a helpful but ethical role in the recruitment process — so next time you find yourself in a heated debate about whether machines can really be of value when searching for a new hire, take a deep breath, smile and give them your best answer.

This content was provided by one of our UNLEASH sponsors.

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