Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Recruitment Process

Organizations have been digitally transforming their talent management (human resource) processes for years. Very often part of that digital transformation, which is an ongoing process, is to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. This article on focuses on how AI can potentially improve the recruitment/hiring process, why organizations are doing so, the challenges they are running into, and the future of AI in the hiring process.

Disclaimer: Any mention of a product in this article does not represent an endorsement, rather, it is presented as an example of a class of technology. I have no relationship with any of the vendors of any mentioned product.

Improving Your Recruitment Process with AI

There are several ways that AI is commonly used to enhance aspects of the hiring process:

  • Resume screening. When an employer posts a job ad they often receive far more resumes than they can look at.  To winnow down the number that they consider, they use AI-based screening software as depicted in the figure below. An example of one such product is ModernHire.
  • Automated communication. Much of the straightforward communication with potential candidates can be dealt with via technology. Automated email responses have been in place since the 1990s in some cases, and for the past few years chatbot technology has been applied. Although chatbot AIs have struggled with complex interactions until recently, we’re seeing very interesting results with chatbot technology such as HireVue. My expectation is that generative AI such as ChatGPT should thrive in a domain like recruitment where the types of conversations are much narrower.
  • Candidate sourcing. AI technology is being used to identify potential people for a job so that employers can reach out to likely candidates rather than wait for candidates to apply. This is how many of the “free” resume review platforms make money. You submit your resume for review and then they include it for consideration for their customers who are looking for potential hires. And of course there are professional job platforms, such as LinkedIn, that put candidates and employers together.
  • Interview scheduling. AI technology such as Paradox’s Olivia can be used to schedule interviews with potential candidates. You may think that you’re emailing back and forth with a person to schedule the interview, but these days can you really be sure? More importantly, does it matter?
  • Automated video interviews (AVIs).  Organizations are starting to use AI to analyze videos submitted by potential candidates. Candidates are typically asked to answer several questions and given a time limit to do so. The video is then analyzed by the AI and the results added into the hiring decision. This strategy is in its infancy and it’s hard to predict how prevalent it will become. I’m also concerned that the negatives, in particular the image of your organization that it presents to potential hires, far outweigh the positives. You can read more in Where Automated Job Interviews Fall Short.

AI in the hiring process

The Benefits of AI in the Recruitment Process

There are several clear benefits of applying AI in the recruitment process:

  1. AI augments your talent management staff. By automating mundane tasks, and by providing new AI-based tools that provide insights about candidate hires, your existing staff is able to focus on more valuable activities.
  2. Lower costs/increase value. A primary reason to automate processes is to reduce your overall costs, and better yet to increase overall value.
  3. Improved response time. When labour markets are competitive your ability to respond to potential candidates quickly is critical. I once worked with an organization that was taking on average three weeks to respond with a job offer to people they wanted to hire. At the time they were trying to hire software developers in an incredibly competitive market for such talent, and due to their long response time they found that over 90% of candidates had already accepted other jobs before they got an offer to them. Their existing approach worked well when hiring business people, where there was little competition, but was a disaster for technical hires. Through significant process improvements, supported by  some automation, we got the average offer response time for software professionals down to less than a day, making us competitive again.
  4. Increased reach. Automation enables your organization to increase your reach by enabling you to process a greater number of resumes obtained via casting a wider net. It can also enable to run more finely targeted hiring campaigns with the same number of staff because they are no longer investing time performing the activities that you have automated.

The Problem with AI in the Recruitment Process

There are several challenges with using AI in the hiring process.

  1. AI automates many of the junior job functions within talent management. The tasks that you’re automating are often the simpler ones that you start your junior staff with, as a result there are either fewer junior jobs to fill or the requirements for “junior positions” has effectively been raised. Either way, this is tough on anyone seeking an entry-level position in talent management. You will still need people involved with the process, but you’re likely to need fewer of them overall. The bottom line is that augmenting your way of working (WoW) with AI-based technologies has both positive and negative consequences.
  2. The AI is only as good as you train it to be. AI recruitment solutions can have biases, just like human recruiters. Due to these biases there is the potential to miss candidates and to have less diversity because your existing biases are likely to get into your models.  For example, in 2018 Amazon discovered that its recruiting AI was biased against hiring women because it had been trained on resumes of people who were mostly male. In Weapons of Math Destruction Cathy O’Neil provides several public examples of such challenges with AI-based recruitment technologies.
  3. AI tools are still emerging. The chatbot technology is still a bit clunky but getting there quickly.  Given the recent release of ChatGPT I expect to see significant improvements in 2023 given the influx of usage data they’re getting to better train the model.

The Future of A.I. in the Hiring Process

Although there are challenges with applying AI in the recruitment process they are often outweighed by the benefits, and progress is clearly being made to address the challenges. As a result, I believe we will see more and more organizations adopt AI-based technologies to enhance their recruitment processes, as well as other aspects of their people management strategy, in the near-term future. I hope this blog posting has given you food for thought.





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