Generative AI in Recruiting: Peril, Promise, or Both?

Sponsored by Radancy

Generative AI has risen to the forefront of work technology at a staggeringly rapid rate — bringing opportunities for employers to achieve powerful productivity gains. But, as with other disruptive technologies, it is also raising some serious concerns. For example, what are the implications of generative AI in recruiting?

AI-based content creation tools may be relatively new, but they’re clearly here to stay. That’s why it’s important for employers to understand how this technology is changing HR ecosystems, and prepare for its impact on recruitment and hiring processes.

Meet Our Guest: Todd Maycunich

Please join me in welcoming Todd Maycunich, a driving force behind Radancy, a leading talent acquisition platform. During his 17 years at Radancy, Todd has held multiple strategic roles, including VP of Product Innovation and Director of Platform Development.

Currently, Todd serves as SVP of Radancy Labs, where he leads a global insights team that leverages primary and secondary data to understand and address key trends that are shaping the future of talent acquisition. Join us as Todd and I dig deeper into the promise and pitfalls of generative AI in recruiting…

Behind the Rise of Generative AI

Todd, welcome to #WorkTrends! Why such a massive interest in generative AI now?

ChatGPT was released to the public on November 30, 2022. It wasn’t the first conversational user experience that demonstrated the ability to reason — but it was the most popular by far. In fact, it reached 100 million users faster than any other application.

These tools are capturing the imagination. People are suddenly having experiences they haven’t had with conversational bots. And they’re wondering if we are at the precipice of the next paradigm shift in computing. So I understand the hype.

The Downside of Generative AI in Recruiting
What are some of the risks of using these tools in HR – particularly in the recruitment process?

When new technology emerges, so do new problems. That’s particularly true when the pace of technology moves as quickly as AI is today.

But after six months of studying and using this technology in the context of hiring, here’s one of my concerns:

We’re using AI now in many ways to generate content. And that content is training the AI that will ultimately generate content in the future.

I think this poses more risks than opportunities. It creates a homogenization effect, so it’s harder to stand out. This can have a negative impact on brands, among other things.

Avoiding AI-Induced “Sameness”

That’s so scary. I think this tech is wonderful, but the risk isn’t just to recruiting and hiring. It will touch everything, yes?

There’s a lot of energy focused now on making sure some guardrails are put in place. Most companies are already thinking about how to protect their brand and their voice when AI helps generate content.

So the good news is that this is top-of-mind now. And companies like ours are integrating it safely into the talent acquisition process, as opposed to being a little bit fast and loose.

Implications for the Hiring Process

Can this technology make candidates seem indistinguishable by obscuring certain characteristics or attributes?

Yes, this is fascinating. Will it make a hiring manager’s job easier, or harder? I’m torn.

For example, what happens when a candidate uses AI-based writing suggestion tools to communicate with an employer, instead of directly researching the company, the job, or even the hiring manager? Will it make suboptimal candidates seem optimal?

This is a good example of how these tools can make it difficult to see people as individuals…

For more insights from Todd about how your HR team can make the most of generative AI in recruiting, listen to this full podcast episode. And be sure to subscribe to the #WorkTrends Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

Also, to continue this conversation on social media anytime, follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

#WorkTrends: Is AI Ready for Us?

Have you ever found out an employee’s references were completely fabricated?

That’s what happened to the Xref team, and it inspired the creation of Xref, an automated reference-checking platform that is an innovator in the use of AI in HR recruiting. Today the Australia-based company has offices in four countries and product offerings in 12 languages.

So who better than Xref’s chief technical officer, Tim Griffiths, to demystify the world of AI for us? Griffiths joined us from Sydney to talk about how HR recruiters can embrace the world of AI, and he provides some great practical advice to get you started.

We also speak with Sarah Wilson, head of people at SmartRecruiters, about the challenges technology presents for hiring, and what we can expect from the future of HR tech.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

How to Embrace AI

AI is still in its infancy, and Griffiths says it’s fine to sit on the sidelines for now and see how things shake out. But if you do decide to jump in, remember that you’re using technology that’s in its very early stages. Things are not going to work perfectly right away. “You’ve got to take a very careful look at the way it’s implemented,” Griffiths says.

This includes analyzing how your AI tools work for you. Griffiths says you should constantly be considering the effects such tools are having on your effectiveness: “Is it enhancing it? Is it augmenting it? Or is it hindering it?”

But remember that AI is not a replacement for decision making. Companies like Xref provide products and services that are simply new twists on old methods. For example, you’re no doubt being swamped with applications. AI tools give you the ability to sort through high volumes of resumes, work that could take days for a non-automated team. “We handle the heavy lifting for you,” Griffiths says, “allowing you to make really good decisions based on the data in front of you, but also get back to the reason why you’re in HR in the first place.”

Education, Education, Education

HR recruiters have an exciting future ahead of them, but it’s a future that will require new skills. When Griffiths talks about the skills we need, he doesn’t get specific. Instead he recommends something more important: an attitude of embracing education.

“The job of a recruiter, really, is understanding some of the new tech that’s coming through — but also what that means,” he says. “It’s really just keeping on top of [your] industry in the area that you are interested in and the software that sits around.”

With AI and technology becoming more and more prevalent, education will be more important than ever. Griffiths predicts that the AI revolution will also bring us more software and sleeker tools, and we’ll need the knowledge to use them properly — and to be able to we can identify tools we actually need vs. things that are just shiny and new.

Technology Is a 2-Way Street

While we’re all excited about technology, Sarah Wilson wants us to remember that recruiters are not the only people with access to new tools. Candidates now have access to more information than ever before. Job websites pair candidates with potential positions with an efficiency humans could never match.

Sound familiar?

That’s right — your candidates are employing AI to guide them to you. Wilson says candidates are also placing more importance on peer references and research, hoping to find an employer that matches their skills and their values. This means your employer brand is even more important, and your employees — and the references they provide — are the most important part of your brand. “If you don’t have great references out there in the market, it can be really, really challenging to attract the right kind of talent for the roles that you have today,” Wilson says.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

This episode is sponsored by Xref.

How AI Can Stop Unconscious Bias In Recruiting

A major feature of AI for recruiting is its ability to stop unconscious bias. 

A recent lawsuit reminds us why we need to avoid bias during hiring: Palantir, a software startup, is paying $1.7 million to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit with the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).

Similar to EEOC guidelines, as a federal government contractor, Palantir cannot discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or against military veterans.

The Department of Labor accused Palantir of disproportionately eliminating qualified Asian applicants for engineering positions. The lawsuit alleges Asian applicants were routinely eliminated in the resume screening and telephone interview phases despite being as qualified as white applicants.

As just one high profile hiring discrimination case among many, this latest lawsuit drives home why compliance matters.

A lot of the blame for discrimination during hiring is placed on unconscious bias. Unconscious biases are “automatic, mental shortcuts used to process information and make decisions quickly” to which “everyone is susceptible.”

In other words, unconscious bias is an ingrained human trait. That’s why some experts believe stopping unconscious bias requires an non-human solution: technology.

Here’s how AI for recruiting can help you avoid unconscious bias during hiring.

What unconscious bias looks like in recruiting

Research has found that resumes with English-sounding names receive requests for interviews 40% more often than identical resumes with Chinese, Indian, or Pakistani names.

The Palantir Asian discrimination case is a real-life example of this type of bias.

Other common biases in recruiting include:

  • Similarity attraction effect: This is the tendency for people to seek out others who are just like them. “Opposites attract” turns out to be a myth: we tend to like individuals who are similar to us. Research on hiring practices has found that employers prefer candidates who are similar to themselves in terms of hobbies and life experiences, even though these similarities aren’t related to job performance.
  • Confirmation bias: This bias occurs when people favor information that confirms their beliefs and ignore or discount disconfirming information. Confirmation bias is one of the reasons why hiring managers ask different questions to different candidates during an interview. Because they tend to ask questions that confirm their unique beliefs about each candidate, this often results in comparing apples to oranges.
  • Halo effect: This bias occurs when we assume that because people are good at doing activity A, they will be good at doing activity B. In recruiting, the halo effect occurs when the hiring manager likes a candidate and uses that as a basis for assuming he or she will be good at the job rather than objectively assessing their skills and abilities.

Why unconscious bias is so hard to eliminate

The best-selling book Thinking, Fast and Slow explains the dual systems theory of the human mind. System 1 is fast, instinctive, and effortless. System 2 is slow, deliberate, and effortful.

Unconscious bias is a product of System 1 thinking. Because unconscious biases affect our thinking and decision making without our awareness, they can interfere with our true intentions.

Unconscious biases are so hard to overcome because they are automatic, act without our awareness, and there are so many of them: Wikipedia lists more than 180 decision making, social, and memory biases that affect us.

How recruiting AI reduces unconscious bias

AI for recruiting is the application of artificial intelligence such as machine learning, natural language processing, and sentiment analysis to the recruitment function.

AI can reduce unconscious bias in two ways.

  1. AI makes sourcing and screening decisions based on data points

Recruiting AI sources and screens candidates by using large quantities of data. It combines these data points using algorithms to make predictions about who will be the best candidates. The human brain just can’t compete when processing information at this massive scale.

AI assesses these data points objectively – free from the assumptions, biases, and mental fatigue that humans are susceptible to.

A major advantage AI has over humans is its results can be tested and validated. An ideal candidate profile usually contains a list of skills, traits, and qualifications that people believe make up a successful employee. But often times, those qualifications are never tested to see if they correlate with on-the-job performance.

AI can create a profile based on the actual qualifications of successful employees, which provides hard data that either validates or disconfirms beliefs about what to look for in candidates.

  1. AI can be programmed to ignore demographic information about candidates

Recruiting AI can be programmed to ignore demographic information about candidates such as gender, race, and age that have been shown to bias human decision making.

It can even be programmed to ignore details such as the names of schools attended and zip codes that can correlate with demographic-related information such as race and socioeconomic status.  

This is how AI software in the financial services industry is used. Banks are required to ensure that their algorithms are not producing outcomes based on data correlated with protected demographic variables such as race and gender.

AI still requires a human touch to stop unconscious bias

AI is trained to find patterns in previous behavior. That means that any human bias that may already be in your recruiting process – even if it’s unconscious – can be learned by AI.

Human oversight is still necessary to ensure the AI isn’t replicating existing biases or introducing new ones based on the data we give it.

Recruiting AI software can be tested for bias by using it to rank and grade candidates, and then assessing the demographic breakdown of those candidates.

The great thing is if AI does expose a bias in your recruiting, this gives you an opportunity to act on it. Aided by AI, we can use our human judgment and expertise to decide how to address any biases and improve our processes.

This post was originally published on Ideal.

Photo Credit: thierry.T Flickr via Compfight cc

#WorkTrends Preview: How Artificial Intelligence Can Change HR and Recruiting

Robots are taking over the World. Well, no not really. But something that is going to be a game changer is about to take over the world of HR. Artificial Intelligence or AI is coming to an HR department near you and maybe sooner than you think.

Artificial intelligence is going to do for HR what the car did for transportation. It’s going to transform how we look at data, what data is worth considering and help us to interpret the intricacies of big data.

Join, me and my special guest Jessica Miller-Merrell on Wednesday, November 2 for a LIVE podcast at 1pm EST as we discuss this hot and timely topic.

How Artificial Intelligence Can Change HR and Recruiting

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Join me, TalentCulture #WorkTrends Host Meghan M. Biro, and my guest Jessica Miller Merrell as we discuss artificial intelligence and its impact on HR.

#WorkTrends on Twitter — Wednesday, Nov 2 — 1:30 pm ET / 10:30 am PT

Immediately following the podcast, our team invites the TalentCulture community over to the #WorkTrends Twitter stream to continue the discussion. We encourage everyone with a Twitter account to participate as we gather for a live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: How will artificial intelligence transform big data into capturable information? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q2: How will artificial intelligence bridge the gap between HR and other company departments? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q3: How will artificial intelligence improve the recruiting and candidate experience? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

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