The Role of Artificial Intelligence in the Hiring Process

As artificial intelligence evolves, we’re going to increasingly rely on it for boosting the hiring process. In Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, author Max Tegmark asserts that the “rise of AI has the potential to transform our future more than any other technology.” So it is, as we already see in hiring. AI is already saving HR teams time and money while attracting the best candidates in these key ways:

Solving the Sourcing Process

A recent study found that 46 percent of companies struggle with finding and attracting the right candidates for their open positions. AI programs can search online resumes and social profiles to find the best candidates for each job based on specific traits. They can also relay personalized messages to promising candidates and do it in scale — something human recruiters could not do alone. 

AI is being taught to overcome human biases during sourcing and screening. The key is teaching the program on data that presents as gender-neutral and training it to ignore other identifying information that might trigger biased decisions. An organization may end up with a pool of applicants far more diverse than if the HR team itself had sourced them.

Enhancing Employee Experience

Once your AI program sources and contacts candidates, AI can lead them through the recruiting funnel quickly and efficiently, ensuring the candidate experience goes smoothly.  Recruiter chatbots can provide real-time answers to candidate questions, offer quick feedback and suggest next steps. They can provide links to promising job descriptions, clarify company hours and location, and schedule interviews. 

Having a good experience during this phrase is a big deal, as is borne out in a study by CareerBuilder: 58 percent of candidates are likely to have a negative opinion of a company if they never get a response to their job application.67 percent are likely to have a favorable view of the company if they get frequent updates after they applied. Instead of dead air, a chatbot fills the space — and furthers the process.

Screening Boosts

AI-powered conversational tools can also give the screening process a boost. Since these tools are always learning, they’re ideal for when going back for a second look at candidates who applied in the past. AI tools can store essential data on all applicants, saving time and effort when you’re ready to reach out to them again. Companies that use AI tools have reduced their cost per screening by 75 percent.

Using technology to screen talent also saves time and effort for candidates. When CVS Health began using the Virtual Job Tryout assessment, it was looking for an automated screening tool to shortlist candidates quickly. The company processes over one million applicants per year: saving time on the hiring process is critical to the recruiting team. 

By offering job simulation inside hiring platforms, CVS enabled  candidates to virtually try out some of the tasks in a potential position. Depending on their performance, they might be invited  go proceed to the next step in the recruiting process. Or they might decide the position wasn’t a good fit, saving themselves and the company time. CVS Health found this tool screened out half a million applicants right away, saving 40 years of hiring manager time.  The tool also brought a measurable improvement in performance, training, new hire retention, and operational outcomes.

Assistance with Interviewing

AI in HR provides a simple way not only to reach out to possible candidates, but also screen, rank, and shortlist their resumes based on the traits most relevant to your company. Then, once you have a list of people you’d like to interview, the chatbot can act as the scheduler.

Certain AI tools can also help you conduct a later-stage virtual interview before inviting a candidate to come in person. Conducting a video interview with preset questions, you can run an AI program to analyze candidates’ facial expressions, tone of voice, mannerisms, and word choice. 

This technology will make it more likely you’ll end up with new employees who fit your company culture, which is why major brands like Google, Facebook, and Apple have been using this technology for years. And now even more companies use it, including Capital One, Allstate, ThredUp, Hilton, and AT&T. 


AI is also improving onboarding procedures — by, for instance, automating repetitive or tedious tasks like conducting background checks, putting together documents about benefits, and creating offer letter templates. AI can also help organize, print, and deliver all onboarding paperwork. 

The same can be said of training documents — another time-consuming step when the HR team has to do it manually. Instead, AI-powered tools can ensure all new employees receive copies of the paperwork that spells out company policies and log-in information.They can track when documents have been read, prompt an electronic signature, and schedule meetings to go over the information further when necessary. 

And all can happen 24/7 from anywhere, which means employees can start training or getting answers to their questions any time and from any device. It also allows the HR department to focus on tasks that cannot be automated or done outside of business hours. 

Why Use AI in HR?

From sourcing and screening candidates to interviewing and onboarding, AI is undeniably changing HR’s capabilities. A report from Deloitte in 2017 notes that 38 percent of survey respondents believed AI would be widely used at their company within three to five years. In 2018, that number rose to 42 percent,. It’s still climbing.  

72 percent of executives believe AI will offer significant business advantages in the coming years, while a LinkedIn study found that 76 percent of hiring managers believe AI will be at least somewhat important in the future. As Eric Sydell, EVP of Innovation at Modern Hire, summed it up, “AI is a perfect way to recruit the best talent that will excel at your company, as it uses huge volumes of data to predict outcomes better than any person can. Not only does AI save HR departments time, but it also gives candidates some insight into whether they even want the job.” 





Four Ways to Get Your Workforce Ready for AI

We are heading toward a workforce that integrates artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive computing, machine learning and virtual and immersive reality with people; a new kind of workforce diversity. And how we define the term work itself is going to shift as well.

This should be the year we all truly comprehend the way our workforce and work processes are changing. If we don’t, we’ll be behind the curve and dealing with the consequences, which is a disengaged and frustrated workforce, workplace anxiety, and a lack of clarity over who’s in charge of what, and more. With big data, the cloud, mobile and social, we still have the certain luxury of just dealing with people. We are adapting to massively expanded functions across multiple channels, while getting used to remote and virtual, and coming to respect the power of social and the opportunities in data. We have learned new best practices and embraced change, and for that we can pat ourselves on the back. But let’s not get complacent: that was child’s play compared to what’s coming.

As AI, cognitive and virtual joins our workforce, here’s the question: how we can best leverage this new reality for the benefit of people? The onus is on leaders and managers to anticipate changes and get ahead of them. So, put down your copy of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and let’s get real. Here’s what we need to do:

  1. Stop dreaming. We once believed eclipses were caused by dragons. We still love dragons. But no more indulging in fantasy. Instead of considering the future, think of the now. Given the rapid change work is undergoing, it makes a lot more sense. So, as you head out to work after Alexa locks the house, Siri locates the morning’s meeting, and the GPS tells you the quickest route in a soothing Brit accent, accept that the future is now.
  2. Create support systems. To get in front of the transformation to a mixed workforce to better mitigate its affect on our people, we need to build some solid scaffolding. Don’t be so concerned with perception versus reality: we’ll all have our opinions. Concentrate on communicating. In terms of recruiting, that means anticipating confusion and setting better expectations. We may start to see job postings where there’s a human side — such as innovating or adding knowledge — and a machine side — such as repetitive administrative tasks. And managers can use mobile apps to take employees’ pulse can keep lines of communication open without interrupting the workday. Teams can create surveys to compile key data on workforce readiness or reservations. On the leading edge there are often more people who feel than people who know. That will change, but not as fast as we’d like.
  3. Resolve to stay human. We don’t really know if robots dream, but AI knows if we do. MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory recently announced they developed an AI algorithm that monitors our sleep with radio waves, and translate those signals to detect if we’re in REM sleep or not. There’s also a wearable AI system that can detect social anxiety in its wearer, predicting if a conversation is happy, sad or neutral based on the wearer’s vital signs and speech patterns. This could be a huge benefit for helping Asperger’s patients and could transform the field of social coaching. But do we need to frame the ethics of this in terms of the workforce? Potentially employers could detect engagement or productivity by using wearables as well. Each organization needs to consider the parameters of its own policy. Not everyone is going to want to implant microchips in their workers.
  4. Ramp up learning. One of the classic challenges HR often faces is executive buy-in. In this case, the workforce is likely changing due to C-Suite course changes, not HR; this is a massive and holistic transformation. Now the challenge is going to be making sure there is enough training in place. One instance: Microsoft recently announced AI for Earth, dedicated to AI-based projects that focus on climate change, agriculture, water, and biodiversity. The firm is committed to its development, and committed to training as one of the key elements. Not surprising, given that L&D is part of that company’s DNA. But even for an entirely different kind of business — such as a retail organization bringing in new customer learning technology — it’s one thing to have it. It’s far better to make sure your people know how to use it well enough to trust it.

We may not always agree with progress. It can get in the way of a good day’s work. And AI, designed to learn more the longer it exists, may well wind up disagreeing with us. In fact, one researcher says we can count on that: based on how it learns and what it learns, AI will definitely have opinions. It’s up to us to have the confidence and familiarity to either agree with them or not — and possibly to mediate between our people and our machines in a way that capitalizes on the best qualities both sides have to offer. Then again, let’s not think of us and them. That’s so 20th century.

A version of this post was first published on FOW Media.