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Written by Paul DruryPaul Drury

How companies could use AI for recruitment

15 min read
How companies could use AI for recruitment
Artwork by:Olya Levina
When you mention AI to great recruiters, their eyes light up. They know that it can help them to transform their impact and add unthinkable value.

Recruiting is a tough gig. If you work for a popular employer in a growth industry, you will be inundated with candidates. On the other hand, if you don’t work in the top tier of your industry, it is likely that you will have to go out into the market and search for those diamonds in the rough. Using AI for recruitment is an obvious choice to lighten the load.

In both cases, recruiters need to do a lot of high-volume work to get to the point where they can have conversations with the right people. These conversations are often rushed and superficial. After all, every employer needs a near-constant flow of candidates to replace those that have just left because they weren’t properly recruited in the first place.

Recruitment and retention can be a vicious circle due to these insane workloads and few companies have truly invested in their processes to give recruiters the time to do what they do best – make nuanced recruiting decisions. 

Now AI developments are going to change the recruitment landscape forever. In this blog, we explore the potential of AI to transform recruitment. We look at:

  • What is AI recruiting?
  • Benefits of using AI for recruitment
  • Current innovations in AI for recruitment
  • How AI recruitment might change in the future
  • The challenges of AI recruiting

If done in the right way, AI can be harnessed to turn the recruitment function into a powerhouse that drives productivity and profit. When you consistently make great hiring decisions, your business will thrive. People are any employer’s greatest asset.

What is AI recruiting?

AI recruiting is not something that can be fully defined just yet. Different companies may already be using AI in various ways, but a truly large-scale partnership between AI and human recruiters has not yet begun.

Most large companies will use small elements of AI in their ATS Software but the impact can be so much more far-reaching. They may have started to use AI in their employer branding and content creation, but soon AI will be involved in the creative side of developing an employer brand as well as the mechanics of communicating it. AI will not replace recruiters – it will increasingly give them the quality time that they need to spend with each candidate.

6 Benefits of using AI for recruitment

Much as they might not want to admit it, there are many benefits for recruiters who are ready to change their working habits and start partnering with AI. The ones who start the journey earliest are those that will find adapting to the inevitable change the easiest.

  1. Reduced workload and a faster process. Sitting on LinkedIn all day is a massive time suck for any recruiter. Not only will AI take on many aspects of time-consuming employer branding on socials, but it will also speed up the sourcing process exponentially. Artificial intelligence will help to refine job specs and allow recruiters to zero in on exactly who they need for each role.
  2. Recruiters will be able to be more strategic. There is not much strategy about fitting a round peg into a round hole, but when an AI can take over the basics of sourcing and screening, recruiters can get much closer to both the needs of their colleagues and the potential of their candidate pool. Proactive hiring is more effective than reactive backfilling. Improved employee retention will follow.
  3. Cultural fit will gain more focus. AI will not be able to navigate the nuances of culture fit for a while yet. While the best recruiters have a sixth sense about making such judgments, very few will be overly scientific about it. When recruiters have time to focus on finding people who will flourish, workplaces will be transformed.
  4. Recruiters will be able to demonstrate their value. When AI can track the quality of hires and match potential with performance, both internal and external recruiters will be able to justify their existence. Recruitment metrics will no longer revolve around volume and speed. AI analytics will give recruiters the ammunition to focus on quality.
  5. Hiring bias will be reduced. AIs can be trained to ignore the unconscious biases that are still rife in the recruitment industry. No recruiter wants to send a hiring manager a 62-year-old candidate when there is a 34-year-old of a similar standard, but if the AI can produce objective reasons why the older candidate should be considered, then why wouldn’t a hiring manager listen to it? AI does not have the fear of failure or rejection affecting its decisions.
  6. More informed candidates make better decisions. One of the frustrations of being a recruiter is that you do not have enough time or knowledge to tell candidates about each role. If an increasingly informed AI (that is so much more powerful than a chatbot) can answer questions about any role within the company, candidates can decide for themselves whether the move if right for them. Too many people finish their first week thinking that they have made a mistake because they didn’t know what to expect.

Current innovations in AI for recruitment

Phone with ai on screen recruitment bot
Phone with ai on screen recruitment bot

AI has been creeping into the recruitment space for a while, but its prevalence is about to get supercharged. Improving the recruitment process has long been on the to-do list of many HR directors, so expect the following innovations to be the start of a swift process redesign. AI will be an integral part of talent acquisition within a matter of a few years.

Here are a couple of the areas that are already seeing impacts from AI technology.

Screening and selection

While the long-standing rumor of all-powerful ATS platforms bossing the first stage of the selection process may be unfounded (it is mostly a glorified database), there is a real possibility that AI will increasingly step into this space to do the heavy lifting. Many recruitment technology providers are incorporating machine learning into their tech.

The benefits are huge for any recruiter. Time spent sourcing and contacting candidates can eat away at the working day and far too many recruiters spend their evenings managing their networks and approaching passive candidates. It doesn’t have to be this way. AI can screen resumes, analyze a candidate’s social presence, deploy predictive analytics to suggest compatibility, and even manage the initial phases of contact.

Recruitment chatbots

Recruitment chatbots will soon be far more interactive and analytical, personalizing each candidate's experience and using NLP to understand the most complex questions. AI chatbots will be able to analyze candidate sentiment and judge when it is time to get a recruiter involved in the conversation.

The insights that recruitment chatbots develop over time will serve to inform recruitment and employer brand decisions, making the recruitment process more intuitive and better designed to maximize candidate satisfaction. Not every candidate will be a fit for each role, but if they have a good recruitment experience, they will tell other people.

Chatbots operate 24/7 and are vital for a remote and global workforce. With AI working away in the background, recruiters will have the time to make vital human connections.

Digitized interviews

We are good a few years away from a machine conducting an interview and making hiring decisions, but there is a solid use case for a recruiter to use AI in digitized interviews to provide supplementary analysis of a candidate’s word choices, speech patterns, and facial expressions. 

Anything to enable more informed hiring decisions will be adopted, so while this is rare currently, there are certainly employers who are adopting this into the initial stages of their video screening processes. As more data becomes available to inform the efficiency of the process, the digitization of interviews will undoubtedly increase.

How AI for recruitment might change in the future

While no one can predict the pace of AI adoption in recruitment, you can be sure that there are will a number of developments that will change the industry completely. Recruitment will always require a considerable amount of human input, but there are many ways in which talent acquisition can be augmented by AI assistance.

Recruiters can pair with AI

AI recruiting systems will have the flexibility and capability to adapt to the needs of individual recruiters as they go about their work. No recruitment desk has the same demands from day to day, so AI will need to learn from the individuals that it works with and take on the tasks that they need it to do. It is not out of the question that each recruiter will have their own unique relationship with the recruitment AI.

When AI is able to learn from a multitude of recruiters across a broad range of companies it will morph into an essential companion, offering insights to challenge decision-making and allowing recruiters to explore ever more nuanced thoughts. This is where AI will obviously struggle, but it will certainly give them the headspace to do so.

Recruitment AI will aid retention

When combined with on-the-job performance feedback, future AI will be able to inform recruitment decisions in a myriad of ways. Are the recruitment criteria resulting in people who perform in the role and fit the culture? This feedback loop is still sadly non-existent currently and the subsequent staff turnover means even more work for recruiters and even less time to do a decent job.

AI could truly revolutionize “people analytics”. The performance data that it could collect would serve to inform hiring decisions and benefit both company and employee. If an AI can tell a candidate that a certain role isn’t for them (based on their advanced personality profile and a deep dive into their career achievements), they will have some actionable food for thought. Of course, AIs aren’t perfect in terms of making such judgments currently, but they will get much better. 

AI can lead roleplay interviews

While video interviewing is currently somewhat basic, with candidates responding to a selection of set questions, the ability for a hiring manager to watch a series of interviews at their leisure is compelling. If AI develops to such an extent that it can lead such a video interview or workplace roleplay, the value of such interactions will increase.

The benefits of AI interview involvement are at the initial stages of any interview process where junior HR managers are usually involved. They often know very little about the role and the resultant interview is often nothing more than a box-ticking exercise. An AI that can be designed by a hiring manager to think like them and ask the kinds of questions that they want asked can save them a lot of time while prompting the candidates to open up in all the right ways. Such deep engagement at an early stage in the process would be a game changer.

A few challenges of AI recruiting

The road to integrating AI into the recruitment workflow will not be a smooth one. Some companies will do better than others and it is natural that the failed attempts will get more attention than the successes. If anything, companies in the early days will not want to brag about their “wins” as they would not want to lose their competitive advantage.

  • It will only work well with a lot of data. Recruitment AI will not work optimally in isolation within a small organization that does not recruit much. Its true value lies in getting to know a whole lot of information about the business and that data only comes with volume. There may be an option where AI software can be “trained” across industries or functions, but there would not be much unique competitive advantage in that situation.
  • AI may adopt the human biases of its masters. People choosing to work with other people will always include some element of personal bias. It is true to say that AI will minimize this, but as AI is trained on the human biases inherent in the recruitment process, it is impossible that the AI won’t pick up on at least some hints of bias.
  • Candidates will slip through the net. There needs to be some safety mechanism in the early years of incorporating AI into the recruitment process to ensure that candidates are not disadvantaged. If AI solutions start to get a poor reputation in the recruitment community, uptake will not be swift. Candidates should be treated with care.
  • Reluctance to embrace a threat. HR Directors will be reluctant to invest in any kind of HR Tech AI solution until they have a viable roadmap for AI across the whole of their department. AI has the potential to disrupt a lot of roles across HR, so don’t be surprised that it won’t get a whole lot of early buy-in from senior management. It is only when its value becomes undeniable that there will be mass adoption.

Key takeaways

  • We fully expect to be changing this blog every year. AI will develop in all sorts of surprising ways, but if there is a business benefit, you can be sure that companies will invest in its development.
  • Recruitment is certainly a business function that will benefit from AI taking on some of the time-consuming tasks and it remains to be seen where employers feel that they will experience the greatest value.
  • Could your recruiting function use AI in these areas: Sourcing and selection, Ascertaining culture fit, Candidate communication, Digitalized interviews, Psychometric assessments
  • There will be many more use cases. Employers that do not make use of the power of AI will hire less suitable people and remain part of the recruitment rat race.
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