Enhancing recruitment through AI

Recruiters can put forward more of a human face when screening, feedback and testing tasks are automated
By Ji-A Min
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/30/2017
Credit: Zapp2Photo (Shutterstock)

Artificial intelligence (AI) seems to be everywhere these days. From Amazon’s Alexa’s natural language processing AI that answers questions via voice commands, Netflix’s machine-learning AI that suggests what people should watch next, and Uber’s robotics AI that’s starting to drive people around, AI has become a part of our daily lives.

When it comes to AI in the workplace, 38 per cent of enterprises are already using AI and this number is expected to increase to 62 per cent by 2018, according to a 2016 survey of 235 respondents by tech company Narrative Sciences. And 33 per cent expect their jobs will become augmented by robotics and AI, according to a 2016 survey of more than 10,000 business and HR leaders from 140 countries by Bersin by Deloitte.

Advantages for recruitment

So, what will be the impact of AI on HR? It’s about the application of artificial intelligence, such as learning and problem-solving, to streamline or automate workflow. As recruiting has transformed into a data-driven function, it’s one of the fastest growing areas of AI in HR, according to Bersin.

One reason it is exploding is because AI requires large amounts of data and most HR departments sit on mountains of data. Until recently, this data was mainly used for descriptive and retrospective reporting rather than driving strategic or predictive decision-making.

With growing innovations in AI and technology, the trove of HR data is creating more ways to gain new insights and enhance the recruiter role. In addition to improving the strategic value of recruiting departments, the major appeal of automating the recruiting workflow is the potential to free up time.

There are several possible applications to intelligently automate and streamline the recruiting function. AI that learns from resumé data is one of the most promising ways because AI excels at the type of pattern recognition required for resumé screening and matching.

A recruiter spends almost nine minutes reviewing a resumé before moving a candidate forward, according to a 2017 report by software provider Entelo, which represents 23 per cent of their time, according to a 2016 study from software company iCMS.

Automated resumé screening uses AI to learn what the required experiences, skills and qualifications of employees are from their resumés. AI can also enrich resumé data by “scraping” a candidate’s social media profiles, collecting public data on their past employers, and analyzing their online work portfolio to more accurately analyze a person’s skills and experience and match them against the job requirements.

In applying this knowledge to candidates’ resumés, this technology can instantly identify and rank the candidates who best fit the profile of successful employees.

Technology that automates resumé screening eliminates the hours it takes to manually screen a resumé and to conduct research on promising candidates. It also has the potential to reduce unconscious bias in hiring because the AI can be programmed to ignore demographic information such as a candidate’s race, sex or age.

Chatbots improve candidate experience

In today’s competitive candidate-driven labour market, not providing candidates with feedback during the job application process can be a disadvantage for the employer.

As a solution, a chatbot can improve the candidate experience by eliminating the number one complaint of jobseekers: Not hearing back after submitting an application. A chatbot can be programmed to provide candidates feedback in real time. It uses natural language processing to answer FAQs about a job, ask pre-qualification questions, and provide updates on a job application.

Chatbots can enhance the recruiter role by automating repetitive tasks such as providing updates and identifying which candidates are qualified and interested. This frees up recruiters’ time to concentrate on a smaller number of candidates to determine fit and persuade them to accept the job.

VR enhances testing, onboarding

With Google’s Daydream and Facebook’s Oculus, virtual reality (VR) is making a comeback. It’s a realistic simulation of a three-dimensional environment controlled by movements of the body.

There are many intriguing applications for VR technology in the recruiting process. Employers can use VR to create more realistic job tests to better assess a candidate’s skills and knowledge. For example, a retailer can create a realistic simulation that tests a candidate’s social skills and problem-solving abilities when dealing with an unhappy customer.

Candidates can use VR to experience a more realistic preview of what a day in the job would look like to better determine their fit. This could include creating a virtual version of themselves that would interact with virtual colleagues and supervisors, and completing tasks they would be expected to do on the job.

For new hires, VR can be used to train and onboard them by simulating workplace challenges and providing real-time feedback.

VR technology can enhance the recruiter role as a tool for employers to market and brand themselves to help attract talent and to better assess candidates’ skills.

AI and technology humanize recruiting

As the demands for greater efficiency and process improvement continue to challenge HR, AI and technology will help humanize recruiting by reducing the administrative burden. Automation will create competing demands for recruiting talent: The need for people-focused talent advisors and data-focused analytics experts.

As talent advisors, frontline recruiting professionals are expected to manage and add a human touch to any automated process. Even with today’s technology, people still want to talk to another person when it comes to hiring and managing people.

This will move recruiting further away from traditional transactional roles. Instead, successful talent advisors need to be skilled in persuasion, empathy and creativity in order to create a personalized recruiting experience for candidates. A high-touch candidate experience can include creating a custom recruiting video for the candidate and moving more quickly to set up in-person meetings in the recruiting cycle.

In addition, automation will free up recruiters’ time to work on initiatives such as reducing bias in hiring, measuring the ROI of their recruiting efforts, and planning strategic initiatives for proactive hiring based on future growth and revenue.

Data-focused people analytics experts, on the other hand, are needed to help clean, analyze and interpret large quantities of HR data. They require domain knowledge of recruiting and people operations to properly interpret results and provide thoughtful recommendations.

These analytics experts can add value to recruiting by calculating the cost of turnover, measuring the ROI of recruiting programs, and linking these outcomes to business results such as increased revenue and decreased costs.

As recruiting becomes more efficient, data-driven and automated, people-focused recruiters will be able to put forward a human face to the AI and technology while analytics experts will enhance the recruitment function by using data.

Ji-A Min is the head data scientist at Ideal.com, a software company that uses AI to automate recruiting tasks. She can be reached at (647) 494-3981, jia@ideal.com or for more information, visit www.ideal.com.

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