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AI: Should You Believe the Hype?

Artificial intelligence is predicted to revolutionise the industry. Rullion investigates if AI in recruitment really is the next big thing.

There are two main schools of thought about the use of AI in recruitment: firstly, that it is going to make sweeping changes to the industry, and, secondly, that it will lead to the replacement of employees by machines.

The truth is likely to be a bit of both, with plenty of grey in between. In short: yes, some recruitment processes that are currently carried out by human beings will increasingly be handed over to computers, leading inevitably to job losses, particularly in larger firms.

However, HR and recruitment experts are expected to benefit greatly by being able to reduce the number of hours they spend on repetitive administration work, freeing up time to spend on more important tasks such as building client relationships and candidate interviews. In turn, this is predicted to make it more likely that hired candidates are a better fit with an organisation, resulting in higher employee retention and productivity.

Even though the technology is in its infancy, early results are very promising, according to software creators. Ideal, a Canadian-based company which builds recruiting software for talent acquisition personnel, claims companies that have adopted AI have seen their performance increase by 20 per cent, their revenue per employee improve by four per cent and their turnover decrease by 35 per cent. Well, they would, wouldn’t they?

AI in Recruitment: Key Applications

In this context, AI is the use of artificial intelligence, such as problem solving and the ability to analyse large amounts of data, to aid the recruitment process. Applications include:

  • Automated screening of resumes: the company’s existing resume database is used in order to screen and shortlist candidates for a new position, significantly reducing the amount of time staff need to allocate to wading through hundreds of applications
  • Automated recruitment assistants: provides real-time interaction with candidates, including answering frequently asked questions (FAQs) and providing regular updates, including an alert when a position has been filled. The aim is to reduce the number of candidates who have a negative experience of a company through lack of feedback on their application. The first fully automated recruitment assistant, named Mya, was launched by US HR technology company FirstJob in July 2016. Initial studies suggest Mya improves recruiter efficiency by 38 per cent and increases candidate engagement by over 150 per cent.
  • Improved online interviews: Software developers claim programs are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and are able to assess aspects such as a candidate’s word choices and speech patterns to determine if they are suitable for a role.

How AI will Affect Recruiters

While all of this seems like a huge boon for time-challenged recruiters, there are clearly still lots of questions that need to be answered regarding AI in recruitment. The technology is so new that the cost impact and teething problems are yet to be dissected and defined. Applications require huge amounts of data to work properly. Also, applications designed to save time in the long-term will create more hours of work in the short-term, as recruiters, clients and candidates alike adapt to new systems.

However, just like self-service checkouts at supermarkets, AI for recruitment is going to be a long-term game-changer, so companies and personnel will need to adapt and determine what applications will work best within their existing work culture and processes.

And, despite the grim ‘rise of the machines’ scenarios touted by scare-mongering tabloids and websites, it is highly improbable that AI can completely replace human beings. At best, AI can aid and streamline processes, but it does not have the capability to perform the more sophisticated, higher level reasoning that recruitment experts use to determine if Candidate A or Candidate B is the best fit for a role. AI assistant? Yes, absolutely – and they don’t take coffee breaks. AI boss? Not anytime soon.