Is AI the Future of Hiring?

New, highly-advanced technology is being developed every day. We’ve already seen self-driving cars and virtual assistants (“Alexa, what’s the weather forecast?”), and, as artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more and more prominent, we can expect our work environments and processes to change, too. In fact, AI is already affecting how HR teams and recruiters work: Unilever, a consumer goods company based in London, uses neuroscience-based games to determine whether an individual is fit for a position and then conducts AI-led video interviews to analyze an applicant’s use of keywords, body language and intonations.

Over the last few years, HR teams around the world have been experimenting with automated systems (think chatbots and language-enhancement software). From efficiently sorting through candidates to optimizing job postings and avoiding human bias, here are the top ways AI technology can be helpful to your recruiting process right now.

Screen Smarter and Faster

According to a recent survey, 52% of HR professionals say the biggest difficulty in recruiting is sifting through the vast number of applicants. This becomes an even bigger problem when you consider the fact that budgets don’t often keep up with the growing needs of an HR team, so recruiters often lack the time and resources needed to screen candidates thoroughly before moving on to the next stage of the hiring process.

By some estimates, the cost of hiring a new employee at a large organization can be as high as $250,000. That’s a significant investment—especially when you consider the possibility of discovering an applicant isn’t right for the job after a few weeks or months. One possible way to decrease costs is to automate the initial stages of the hiring process. This saves recruiters valuable time and gives them the chance to better allocate resources.

AI can be used to streamline applicant screening and sourcing by automatically sorting candidates based on experience and qualifications. Additionally, chatbots can serve as the first point of contact for candidates. Virtual assistants like Mya and Olivia, for example, are built specifically to improve the hiring process and are designed to communicate with candidates as a recruiter would: they can collect candidate details, review applications and answer questions.

Using this automated technology enables recruiters to prioritize other tasks and saves them from hours of sorting through applications, ultimately creating a smarter, more cost-effective and efficient hiring process.

Write the Perfect (Neutral) Job Post

AI can also assist recruiters before the screening process by helping to create the “perfect job post”—a challenging, time-consuming task for many HR professionals. In addition to creating interest and accurately describing responsibilities, recruiters must strive to use neutral and engaging language that appeals to all applicants.

Gender-biased language unintentionally sneaks into job ads more often than we’d like. In a recent study, Totaljobs found an average of six gender-biased words per job ad in the UK. Further contributing to this bias, traditionally “masculine” fields tend to use more male-oriented words (lead, analyze, competitive), while more “feminine” industries tend to use female-oriented words (support, responsible, dependable) in their job postings. Being cognizant of the language your company uses can benefit you in the long run: in one study, ZipRecruiter discovered that removing gendered language from a job description increased the volume of applications by 42%, indicating that neutral language results in a more attractive job post.

Attracting a diverse pool of applicants is one of the goals put forth by Textio, AI-based language enhancement software that spots biased words while you write and suggests better language. Since adopting the tool, companies like Johnson & Johnson, Nvidia and Evernote have reported more diverse candidates and reduced time spent filling positions.

Job ads act as the first point of contact between a company and potential employees. To attract desirable candidates, it’s imperative that you make a good first impression—using AI to incorporate more inclusive and attractive language in your job postings can help.

Eliminate Human Bias

Whether we want to admit it or not, all humans (including HR professionals) have unconscious biases that can be detrimental to the recruiting process. From gendered language to racial profiling, human bias can lead recruiters to favour certain demographic traits and be discriminatory towards others.

Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that racial discrimination in hiring has failed to improve much over the last 30 years. The study found that, since 1990, white applicants generally received 36% more callbacks than black applicants and 24% more callbacks than Latino applicants. Data were collected by analyzing résumé screening and in-person interview processes, indicating that bias against certain ethnic names, as well as physical appearance, played a part in the resulting discrimination.

One way AI can help prevent this kind of human bias is to take opportunities for discrimination out of the screening process, programming systems to make decisions based purely on skills and experience. The challenge in this field, of course, is that AI systems programmed by humans can end up taking on the biases of their creators, depending on who writes the algorithm and how. Nevertheless, AI does not have the inherent prejudices that humans have and therefore has the potential to eliminate bias if used in the correct way.

The Future of HR

We may not know everything about artificial intelligence yet, but if one thing’s clear, it’s that AI will have an increasingly significant impact on how we conduct business. It’s an important time for HR professionals as they experiment with and learn from this new technology, but we also need to remember that humans are needed to drive human resources. However, used properly, AI can play a crucial supporting role in how HR leaders grow, manage and develop their teams.

To learn more about how HR processes are evolving, read our white paper about the modern era of hiring.

About the Author:

Andi is the Director of Global Services at Speexx, the world’s leading online language learning and business communication skills training service. He writes, speaks and occasionally hosts webinars about learning languages online and the secret of the Perfect Blend and global talent management, Speexx and e-learning. Follow Andi on Twitter.