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Machine Recruitment: The Risk and Rewards of Using Advanced AI Tech for Hiring Teams

Distributed workforces are commonplace and most organizations have outwardly thwarted the idea of a return to “normal”.


Photo by @ringsfoto via Twenty20

Unleash Your Talent Acquisition How business now locates, and recruits staff has been disrupted as the pandemic has continued. Using AI can help enterprises develop the remote, flexible workforces they need to thrive in 2021.

  • As businesses have transformed so have their recruitment processes.
  • 2021 will see talent acquisition (TA) teams increase their use of AI to automate some aspects of the recruitment process.
  • AI – especially Machine Learning – will be increasingly adopted. Care must be taken to reduce unintentional bias and discrimination.
  • The automated TA services AI can deliver must expand to also support candidate experiences and longer-term career development.

For all businesses, the workforces they have created are their most precious asset. This hasn’t changed, but COVID-19 has shifted how enterprises organize their workforces – with these distributed teams looking set to become the long-term norm.

In response to the pandemic, businesses have had to radically alter how they organize their processes and, critically, their staff. Where remote, flexible working was expanding, COVID-19 pushed companies to develop mass remote working policies. The knock-on effect has been recruitment has also had to change.

As these decentralized individuals and teams become the ‘new normal,’ what does this mean for talent acquisition (TA)? How can AI help businesses locate the talent they need to prosper in a post-COVID-19 business landscape?

Eric Sydell, EVP of Innovation at Modern Hire, explains how the pandemic has had a transformative impact on how businesses now approach their recruitment:

“Because of COVID-19, almost overnight, companies were forced to revamp their hiring processes and shift to a completely virtual hiring process. One of the biggest shifts was replacing the traditional face-to-face interview to help companies that needed to hire quickly find the right qualified people for the role. At Modern Hire, we observed the impact of this first-hand in that we saw the volume of our interview technology solutions on our platform increase by a factor of ten compared to a similar timeframe last year.”

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AI And the hiring process

According to the TUC that closely evaluated the use of technology to manage people revealed” “The most commonly experienced technologies were automated CV ‘scraping’ – when CVs are scanned for keywords and a decision then taken as to whether a candidate will proceed to the next stage of the process (17%), automated background checking (16%) and video simulations or game-based assessment (14%). Social media screening and AI-powered psychometric testing (both 11%) were experienced slightly less often.”

Already auto-scoring, text screening to check a candidate’s skills against the job requirements. Candidate screening is also expanding its use of video and natural language processing (NLP) to evaluate candidates. All these tools, of course, must be approached with care to ensure HR professionals are always the ultimate decider of any candidate’s suitability for the vacancy.

Not only did Video Interviewing allow us to rapidly collect interview data to more efficiently complete the review and recommendation process but the method is an inherently standardized procedure which is so important for scientific research.

Hi-SEAS, a Sonru – A Modern Hire Company client 

As enterprises look to the future, locating the talent they need to innovate and remain leaders in their market sectors is critical. When applied strategically, AI can become an essential aid for all HR professionals.

Recruitment teams, though, must always approach their use of AI systems with care. Questions whether AI should be used to evaluate a potential candidate’s social media presence and the privacy issues these raises have yet to be fully understood. The systems used by Modern Hire, for instance, only use data from candidates who have given their permission. This ensures full compliance with GDPR.

The use of AI by recruitment teams can also have another facet: As AI systems can collect and analyze vast quantities of data, advanced recruiters again use this information to assess the candidate experience allowing the HR teams to improve their approach. This feedback is vital to hone a recruitment process that is world-class and fit for a post-COVID-19 working environment.

Machine bias and discrimination 

The AI systems in use today are often described as a ‘black box’ with little or no understanding of how the AI system works and how the results delivered were arrived at. This lack of visibility must be addressed, as any AI system must be explainable. Explainability opens the black box and reveals how the AI operates using the parameters that it has been given.

Modern Hire makes the point in their whitepaper that technology can help TA reduce bias and increase diversity. “The key is to establishing hiring practices that support diverse hiring is to create a process that is based on scientifically valid, rigorous measurement, and to collect and monitor score differences among protected classes. If score differences are detected at any point, then the algorithms that weight and score the collected data can be adjusted to remedy the problem.”

However, these parameters themselves can have unintentional bias and discrimination if they are not set-up correctly. In any recruitment setting, this could have massive negative impacts on the business using AI.

IBM, in their report, concluded: “It is unlikely that AI will resolve all issues related to bias. Building fairness into your AI systems, and being completely transparent in your use of AI (whose data, what the information is used for, etc.) will ensure you stay on the right side of the good versus bad technology divide.”

an AI future?

There is little doubt that the hiring process will increasingly use data-driven applications, virtual tools, and automation.

HR teams are initially recruiting for current vacancies, but what about the future? The skill sets of candidates today are relevant, but will these candidates be able to grow and adapt into the future as the needs of the business change and evolves? AI systems can take the multiple data points connected to a candidate and offer a level of insight into how they might perform in the future. This level of immunity can be critical as enterprises fight to locate and retain the best talent.

With Phone Interviews, Multiplex used to block out three full days during which time the entire HR and L&D team would conduct the phone interviews. According to Gregson: ‘this was a disaster, there was no consistency to our process. We had handwritten notes which are, now, not GDPR compliant. What we ended up with was a mishmash of candidates hence the need for so many Assessment Centres.

Mulitplex, a Sonru – A Modern Hire Company client

In their 2021 hiring trends report, Modern Hire concludes: “Building a hiring process immune to labor market shocks like this is a key concern for hiring teams in 2021. Forward-thinking hiring teams are refining their hiring process to flex with changes and automating as much as possible is the most promising path forward. Automation enables a frictionless hiring process and increased speed to hire.”

All TA teams will expand their use of AI during 2021. As the labor market continues to change rapidly, the advantages AI can offer in a recruitment setting can’t be ignored. Modern Hire’s Eric Sydell concludes:

“AI is transforming the technology landscape in all domains, including hiring. It is truly exciting to see the impact it has had in only a few short years, and we expect to see and are driving additional progress. As with any powerful new tool, it must be used cautiously and carefully to ensure that it does not cause unforeseen problems. By maintaining a human-centric approach to AI development, we are working to lead the charge in using AI tools to make the lives of our organizational clients and their candidates better.”

Is the future of recruitment more automation with AI using a data-driven approach to locate and onboard recruits? There will be an element of automation, yet AI, when used to its most significant effect, will be a tool for HR professionals. Using Machine Learning to aid them and to design seamless and frictionless hiring processes will evolve throughout 2021.

You can find out more about Modern Hire here.

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