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The Impact of AI on Talent Acquisition

By Joan Kelly
Exclusively written for atapglobal.org

Is a robot going to determine whether you get your next job? Probably not yet, but recruiters are already using AI to make the first rounds of cuts. AI automation tools are saving both time and money for recruiters with 67% of hiring managers last year noting how AI was saving them precious time sifting through candidates. Critics, however, argue that AI can introduce biases, and remove human accountability and transparency. Executive Director of Global Talent Acquisition at CSG International, Max Rocha cautioned that automation for automation’s sake will often create more problems than it does solutions. AI is still in its nascent stages, therefore, careful consideration should be given to the extent of control it is given.

Despite this, it is estimated that by the end of 2020 two-thirds of staffing firms around the world will adopt AI-driven applicant tracking systems, while 79% of large enterprise staffing firms will have done the same. As such, AI is poised to tackle some of the core challenges facing today’s recruiters and helps improve the marketing of open job requisitions, productivity, performance and candidate sourcing, and matching. Key AI implementations that will have a significant impact on talent recruiting for staffing firms include ideal “candidate cloning” to identify similarly qualified candidates, chatbots that improve communication channels, especially when it comes to Gen Zers and millennials, and resume harvesting to help firms find internal candidates to fill future openings.

While recruiters most often use AI to find talent externally, companies like Google and UnitedHealth Group use AI to help power internal talent deployment and advancement. To ensure plenty of experience and new challenges for their employees, Google wants employees to move around teams, departments, and even global offices. Employees rank their top choices for deployment while an AI using Gale-Shapley Deferred Acceptance Algorithm pairs them with a suitable location. The system has been running for three years now and has provided greater transparency and employees feel more control over internal deployments.

Another area where predictive AI is used internally is finding in-house talent. A feature by Marcus on AI in human resources explains how UnitedHealth Group use an algorithm that lets the company identify leadership qualities. This is done through leveraging work data, which allows their executives to identify early on which employees they want to groom for future leadership roles. AI enables human resources managers to proactively identify the best passive talent within the company and refer them to the right department or manager.

But while recruitment and HR departments are touting AI as the next messiah, critics are warning that AI systems can inadvertently learn to be racist, sexist and biased in various ways. For instance, HireVue, a company that produces a job interview video platform using AI to assess candidates came under fire when lawyers at the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). They alleged that HireVue’s system is biased, inaccurate and lacks transparency, moreover, it could inherently be built to discriminate against people with disabilities. Professor of organizational behavior at Stanford, Adina Sterling also noted how an AI could drive its preferences towards a single type of candidate and miss a more unconventional applicant who would nevertheless be a good fit.

In light of this, with the introduction of the Algorithmic Accountability Act in Congress this year, it grants the FTC authority to create regulation to check automated decision systems like AI for bias. But when it comes to hiring, the one thing that people have always valued is the human connection. In a race to save time and money, hiring managers are forgetting the most important aspect of hiring – the human element. AI tools used by recruiters, in large part assess whether a candidate’s skills and education are a good fit. However, skills can be taught, personality and other human traits can’t, and as of yet, AI is not smart enough to assess whether a candidate’s personality is the right fit for a company’s team or culture.

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