Blog Post

AI Won't Replace Recruiters, But It Will Make Them Better

Ji-A Min

Data Scientist at Ideal

Similar to how technology has created efficiencies in operations, marketing and sales departments, human resources is being transformed by emerging AI technology.

AI is getting a lot of attention in recruiting specifically due to the huge potential to automate some of the low-value, high-volume recruiting tasks that continue to monopolize time and attention. But the question remains: Will AI actually replace recruiters one day?

Industry experts such as Katrina Kibben, managing editor of RecruitingDaily, predict AI will automate any area of recruitment with distinct inputs and outputs like screening, sourcing and assessment. But other experts, such as HR consultant and futurist Michael Haberman, anticipate augmented intelligence in which AI technology will be used to enhance human capabilities rather than replace people completely.

While AI for recruiting has the potential to fully automate some functions that are currently done manually, other functions can't yet be replaced by technology.

For now and in the near future, I agree with the experts that AI cannot replace people with jobs that require social skills, empathy and negotiating abilities. I believe the question we should be asking isn't "Will AI replace recruiters?" but "How can AI augment recruiters?" Here are three areas where AI is already changing the recruiter role.

1) Automating Resume Screening

For high-volume jobs such as retail and customer service, most recruiting teams just don't have the time to manually screen all the resumes they receive per open role. Automated resume screening saves recruiters' hours per hire and promises to improve the quality of hire through its self-learning feedback loop. In this scenario, AI learns the requirements of a job and the qualities of good candidates based on successful and unsuccessful employees previously or currently in the role.

Intelligent resume screening can also apply machine learning to enrich resumes by using public data sources (e.g., prior employers, social media profiles) to further analyze candidates' skills and personality. Similar to blind hiring methods, AI has the potential to eliminate unconscious bias during the resume screening process because it can ignore information about candidates' race, gender and age.

Automated resume screening is currently being used by companies who conduct high-volume hiring. While this technology promises to have multiple benefits for recruiters, one major limitation is that it requires a lot of data to learn how to screen resumes as accurately as a human recruiter.

2) Enhancing Candidate Engagement

The vast majority of job applicants never hear back after sending off their resumes, and in today's candidate-driven market, attracting talent by improving the candidate experience represents low hanging fruit. AI "chatbots" save time and help recruiters compete for talent by providing real-time interaction with candidates.

Recruiter chatbots use natural language processing to ask and answer questions about the job, learning from their interactions to improve their answers and better assess candidates' needs and desires.

This technology is currently being used by early adopter tech companies, but it could benefit any recruiters who receive too many candidates to interact with everyone themselves. Of course, the technology isn't at a point where it can perfectly mimic human conversation, so for certain industries or roles there's still a need for actual conversation.

3) Augment Online Interviews

The convenience and efficiency of online interviews have made them extremely popular. Online interviews are being enhanced by AI through algorithms that analyze candidates' word choices, speech patterns and facial expressions to assess his or her emotions and personality traits.

This form of AI for recruiting promises to augment the recruiter role by providing additional data points on how well a candidate may fit the job requirements or company culture. This allows recruiters to have a more objective assessment of candidates before deciding whether to invest in an in-person interview.

Similar to automated resume screening, one of the main limitations of this type of technology is that it requires a lot of data—in this case, recorded candidate interviews—to be able to accurately identify and then categorize words, speech patterns and facial expressions.

AI is already able to replace low-value, administrative tasks such as resume screening—but the extent to which AI will be able to replace a recruiter's ability to engage and interview candidates remains to be seen. One thing is clear: understanding the potential capabilities and limitations of this new form of technology puts us in the best position to leverage it to become better, faster and smarter at what we do.

Photo: Twenty20

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