Send in the Robots: The Good and Bad of Automating Your Hiring Process

Futurist and tech billionaire, Elon Musk, believes we may not be far from a time where robots and various forms of artificial intelligence (AI) will perform most jobs. He cautions that a day will come when there will be few jobs a robot will not do better than a human being.

But this reality is still years away.

In the meantime, we need people to fill an increasing number of jobs—today. And we can use AI to our advantage to automate the more tedious tasks of HR, speed up the recruiting process, save companies money and enable them to be more competitive in the race to attract top talent.

Sound incredible? It’s not. It’s very real. Of course, like any technology, AI also has some downsides. Let’s take a look at the positives and the negatives of AI in three areas of recruiting that are most likely to face digital disruption this year.

AI Takes Over the Tedium of Resume Screening

What if you could take one of the most difficult, time-consuming aspects of HR and automate the process to do it faster and more effectively than any human being could accomplish? More than half (52 percent) of recruiting managers say finding potential applicants in giant talent pools is the most challenging part of their job.

Finding a single qualified candidate from predictive screening, which shares the traits of successful hires with just a glimpse at a resume, can take up to 23 hours of a recruiter’s time.

“Candidate screening is a process better handled by algorithms that can effortlessly, accurately, respectfully, and predictively screen thousands or millions of candidates per day (or hour) for business success,” states Greta Roberts, writing for These powerful algorithms accomplishes this feat by filtering for keywords and other factors that match those of successful past hires.

Some job seekers fear that AI software won’t view candidates as individuals or will misunderstand aspects of their resume. But when a recruiter makes a decision after a 6-second glimpse at that same resume, he or she isn’t necessarily taking time to think about the person behind the buzzwords either.

AI programs don’t get tired and overlook important indicators that someone may be the right person for the job. In fact, the more resumes AI reviews, the better it gets at finding top candidates. The numbers are in and the case for AI is compelling. According to recruiting software firm Ideal, companies that have adopted AI for recruiting software who use it have seen a:

  • Performance increase of 20 percent
  • Revenue per employee grow by 4 percent
  • Employee turnover drop by 35 percent

Chatbots Keep Prospects Looped In

AI-powered chatbots are already being used in the food service industry to assist customers with placing orders, and in retail to answer questions and manage some customer complaints. It’s easy to make the leap to chatbots that can schedule interviews and answer job candidates’ frequently asked questions. From an HR director’s perspective, it’s all about being able to deliver the information candidates need, when they need it, in their preferred format.

Certainly, no one reaches out via chat interface with the thought, “I really hope I get to speak to a robot today!” But it definitely beats being ghosted by an HR director after you thought that first interview went so well.

And recruiters who spend less time sending follow-up emails can now focus on the high-touch areas of their job, such as connecting with candidates after they’ve passed the initial screening process, slam-dunked the first and second interviews, and now require some personalized attention to convince them to sign on.

Streamline Onboarding with AI

It’s important to make new employees feel at home with a personalized tour, but so many aspects of onboarding simply don’t need the expertise of an HR director. Enter Jinie, an HR chatbot that can help walk new hires through those first confusing days on the job, share information about programs and policies, and answer common questions.

However, to gain widespread adoption, these bots need to be:

  • In a familiar format—perhaps integrated into existing communications platforms like Slack
  • Secure enough to transmit sensitive HR data
  • Seamless, so the experience feels more like speaking to a human being than a bot

Will AI Replace HR?

Clearly, AI can streamline and simplify many aspects of HR. But HR directors and recruiters won’t be replaced anytime soon.

AI can handle screening applicants, initial outreach, schedule interviews, and even manage aspects of the onboarding process. For example, Wendy, an AI chatbot developed by tech startup WadeandWendy, can complete the first interview on behalf of the HR team.

By automating these tasks, HR professionals are freed up to step in when their strategic expertise is required, and to oversee the entire process for quality control. After all, AI is only as good as the data we feed it. Biases can (and do) creep in—all based on what we, the human users, may inadvertently teach the AI algorithms over time.

As an HR professional, you take extra care to ensure you evaluate all candidates on equal footing, in the same way, you will have to oversee the use of AI to help provide unbiased decisions—and to make the final calls on hiring and promotions.

If you could save time and money by implementing tools to help you do your job more efficiently, wouldn’t you? For HR departments, those tools exist and improving every day. When it comes to streamlining your HR processes, it may just be time to send in the robots.

A version of this was first posted on

Artificial Intelligence and HR: The New Wave of Technology

It’s no secret that I love technology. From the domination of mobile to the latest in recruitment tools and gamification, and how video and live streaming is having an impact on hiring and training—changes are afoot that many of us couldn’t have imagined 15 or so years ago. And I love it all.

The reason this “tech meets HR” marriage is so exciting is how quickly the technology evolution has disrupted HR and enhanced the way HR professionals get things done. Now there’s another big disrupter on the horizon, one that you would be wise to keep your eyes on: Artificial intelligence.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

In layman’s terms, artificial intelligence (or, AI as it’s commonly referred to), is an area of computer science where computers are “developed” to behave much the way humans do. There are three levels when it comes to AI, depending on how advanced the computers get, and the measuring stick is “human reasoning.”

Strong AI genuinely simulates human reasoning. These systems not only think, but can also “explain” how humans think and reason.

Weak AI includes systems that can “think” (computers playing chess against human chess masters, for example), but don’t tell us anything about how humans think, and the systems don’t really think themselves.

In-between AI includes systems that are informed by, or inspired by human reasoning. Examples include Google’s Deep Learning (driven by big data) and IBM’s Watson, a system that can answer questions by analyzing thousands of pieces of text, discerning patterns, and weighing evidence, a sort of “layered learning,” much like the way our brains learn. This in-between area is where most AI work is being done today.

Artificial Intelligence Meets HR

The biggest driver of AI’s impact in the HR industry is the massive growth of big data. Until now, we haven’t had access to simple software systems with which to track and analyze internal employee data (think sick days, vacation requests, hiring trends, workflow, etc.). Today, most businesses have undergone some degree of digital transformation, and rely on this type of technology. HR professionals are recognizing that this valuable data and the insights teased from it play a major role in reducing riskand driving decision-making, when it comes to talent management and organizational performance.

Here are four ways AI has the potential to have an enormous impact on HR.

  1. Personalization: It’s not news that people have very different styles of learning, and, with the many generations now filling the workforce, embracing modern training practices has never been more important. AI is helping to personalize corporate learning, by capturing meaningful employee data relating to a wide range of learning experiences and behaviors. The same machine learning computer algorithms that “learn and recommend” by analyzing your choices of where to shop or what to eat, will “learn and recommend” when it comes to employee training. In fact, these systems will continue to parse and analyze as more and more employee interactions occur, and be able to tweak training programs accordingly, making training more efficient, and training outcomes more effective.
  1. Workflow Automation: Scheduling, scheduling, and rescheduling. The bane of many of our existences, yes? Well, AI is poised to be a game-changer when it comes to workflow problems. According to a recent com article, the next few years should see software that automates hiring processes like “…interview scheduling, employee performance reviews, employee onboarding, and even the answering of basic HR questions.” I, for one, can’t wait.
  1. Improved Recruitment: HR is, by its very name, one of the most human-centric industries out there. But human beings are complicated, and it’s very difficult to get base-level data on individual people—enough to run an analysis on—especially when hiring. Enter predictive analytics using natural language. Still, in its (relative) infancy, the software driving natural language processes and predictive language analysis will help speed up recruitment by allowing you to weed people out faster, and with fewer mistakes.
  1. Better prediction models: AI will get to know your company almost better than you do. Whether it’s predicting future turnover rates, reduced (or increased) employee engagement levels, concerns about internal employee communications, project completion problems, and any other unexpected hidden issues that would usually take years to surface, artificial intelligence will (most likely) be one step ahead of you. And when it comes to cost savings and overall organizational efficiencies, that’s a very good thing.

The pace of technological change in our work worlds is happening so quickly that a recent World Economic “Future of Jobs” report estimated “…some 65 percent of children entering primary schools today will likely work in (jobs) that don’t currently exist.” And many of those jobs will probably be related to computer learning and predictive analytics. Human resources professionals need to start embracing big data today, so they can be prepared to embrace the incredible advancements in artificial intelligence of tomorrow.

A version of this was first posted on Converge.

Photo Credit: Filippo B. via Compfight cc