AI and We: Is Recruitment Losing its Human Touch?

It has been years since AI (artificial intelligence) has been the buzzword in the recruitment industry. From companies, to recruitment professionals, to candidates themselves wonder about the role of AI in recruitment. Many also wonder whether recruitment is losing its human touch. Without further ado, let us take a look at the role of AI in recruitment, the concerns regarding its use, as well as how we can have the best of both worlds of using AI and the wisdom of a specialising HR/recruitment professional.

The Advantages of Using AI in recruitment:

AI is often used for a quicker processing of information.

According to an article on BrixRecruiting, it is used for sourcing candidates, scanning keywords in the resume. Moreover, certain more advanced softwares are also used for the analysis of speech, facial expressions, and behaviour. In an age of talent crunch and competitive hiring, AI can take away the burden from the hiring department of a company as all these preliminary processes can be performed by the AI itself, increasing the speed of the larger process.

The Issues within AI recruitment:

With all its speed and efficiency, AI can lose out on the nuance and specialisation that conventional human recruitment offers by default. There’s just a different quality to face to face interactions, and first impressions gathered by non-verbal cues and experienced eye.   

Plus, almost paradoxically, AI recruiting tools are ultimately created by humans, and some biases and prejudices may leak into the software. An automated hiring system at Amazon, according to a Reuters report taught itself that male candidates are preferred over female ones because of certain deductions it made. Amazon’s experimental hiring tool gave scores to candidates from one to five stars by detecting certain commonalities and patterns in older, successful resumes.

It was created with an intention that one could filter out top five resumes from a hundred submitted.  But the issue was the older resumes based on which the pattern of a good resume was detected were mostly submitted by males. As a result, the present system thus filtered out good resumes of females as well because it didn’t detect certain keywords! The male dominance of the industry became a ‘pattern’ which the AI took as an example of a ‘good resume.’

Another example of the use of AI, although much simpler, is the use of chatbots in the initial screening stages. The chatbots schedule interviews, asks certain automated questions to pool the candidates.

But again, in such cases, how would one account for unforeseen events, emergencies, when the candidate has to reschedule something last minute? Or what if the candidate has a question that doesn’t generate an automated response?

Furthermore, many AI-based platform companies provide recruiting but with no specialisation– the recruitment process becomes more generalised which again could result in losing out on candidates who may have been spotted by an experienced eye.

The Road Ahead:

The ideal would be the use of AI in a way that human recruiters still have a total control of the process. For example, an article on Crosschq mentions how pre-hiring checks might be performed by the AI, eliminating some repetitive tasks. The recruiters can then participate in the one-on-one interviews and interactions to gauge the candidate with all their nuances of socio-cultural factors.

From time to time, recruiters should update the various parameters fed to the AI software, so that the changing times and work culture remain up to date and the automation doesn’t filter out the good candidates because of random algorithms.

Further, the recruiters should from time-to-time check who the candidates are that have been filtered out by the AI. The recruiters can rely on their instinct of experience– if a candidate seems to be good, but the AI filters them out, the control should ultimately lie in the hands of the recruiter. It is also a good idea to ensure that the candidates know how and whom to reach out in case they wish to clarify certain things, which the impersonal AI might not be able to ‘understand’.

It is as simple as updating the AI with changing times, and checking on its ‘intelligence’ from time-to-time, because after all, it is artificial intelligence. It is about adding the human touch to that artificial intelligence.

Balancing Technology for Convenience

It is all about how you balance out what all is personal with the digital.
It is all about how you balance out what all is personal with the digital.

While talking about Technology, the keywords are deceptively varied. We think about the AI (Artificial Intelligence). We think about automation, digitisation. We think about the numerous movies showing dystopias of technological revolutions gone overboard. We think about bots, Siri, Cortana, that voice on Google Maps.

We think about the ease, accessibility. We marvel at the rapid evolution. And we think about the inconveniences faced by the older “non-technological” generation. One cannot engage enough in debates about the jobs humans lose to AI.

Why is this deceptively varied?

The thought processes, when it comes to Technology, fall in two extremes: it’s either the saviour, making everything super-easy or it’s the monster we created which is on the path to overthrowing us.

 But we need to look beyond these two polarised narratives.

 Technology, AI included, are here. And they are here to stay.

And it is up to us now to not antagonise it but use it to bring out the best in people.

Forget about fancy and somewhat intimidating words like Big Data, Virtual Reality (VR), automation, etc. Let us leave those to the experts.

 Let us look at Technology in its contextualised, old dictionary meaning: application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes.

 Using Technology to complement your work is the thing to do now. It is all about how you balance out what all is personal with the digital.

Imagine you have a presentation for an important meeting.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you used PowerPoint, with slides that showcase the data and your statistical research neatly contained in graphs and pie-charts?

The same PowerPoint could bore everyone if you started to simply read out what the slides contain.

It is up to us how we learn and how we make use of Technology.

Learning to use Excel sheets (or similar software) for statistical analysis could help in reduce the accounting errors that might happen on a human level owing to overwork or fatigue. Or they could simply be used to tally and double check.

 Let us take another example.

Imagine you are on a road-trip with your family, and now it’s your turn to take the wheel.

Highway driving needs a higher degree of awareness, and the occasional rule-breaks we all resort to while steering our way through busy streets of the city should not be the case here.

But the phone is not going to stop ringing, is it?

What if an important client feels neglected, we fear.

What could be done here is adjust your phone settings in such a way that it “automatically” sends a text message to the person whose call you just missed. There are numerous options available, right from a straightforward: “I am driving, call you later”, to “Sorry, will get back to you ASAP” to custom-made responses.

 Automation, when used well could save important business, and lives too.

Technology has made it easier to connect, network, communicate, research, authenticate, set criteria and filter. Spreading information and awareness to a large number of people at the same time is not a dream anymore.

Although, one should not deny the possibilities of its overuse and thus loss of human jobs, but then again, it depends on how we figure out a way, when to use, when not to use.

 Technology is all about a yes or no, if and then, 0 or 1, patterns and figuring out more patterns. Humans have the liberty to explore the spaces in-between these binaries, and create new patterns.