AI in recruitment

As the market becomes more candidate driven and it becomes even more difficult to identify top talent, recruiters need to adapt to the new environment using AI tools to stay on top of their job.

Talent teams face tremendous pressure to put first human interaction and personalized engagement to capture the most sought after candidates.

Within the next 5 years, the race (not war) for talent will be won by leaders who are able to use AI tools effectively to automate their workflows intelligently.

Such AI-powered tools also eliminate bias from the hiring process. An AI does not have an ego, or does not look for familiarity in the candidate enabling it to make better, and more objective decisions than a conventional, low-tech recruitment process.

AI technologies currently in use

Since most qualified candidates are shopping for multiple offers and talking to several recruiters, talent acquisition teams need to reach out to a larger volume of candidates to close the role. Speed is key, since whoever reaches the candidate  and moves through the process faster, has the highest chanced to filling the role.

1. Automated Candidate Sourcing

Candidate sourcing is the process of looking for, identifying and reaching out to potential candidates for roles one is recruiting for. AI sourcing is the ability to do that at scale, by automating all the tedious parts of the process.

The major advantage automated candidate sourcing provides is the ability to go from looking at hundreds of candidates to hundreds of thousands of candidates, surfacing relevant, top talent. This allows recruitment teams to focus on the human elements like interviews, meeting and building relationships with candidates. This efficiency helps move key recruitment metrics like time-to-hire and cost-to-hire.

2. Recruitment chatbots

The use of chatbots in businesses has been on the rise since the last few years. After proving a solid use case with enhancing customer relationships, chatbots have made their ways into recruitment as well. These chatbots have AI and NLP capabilities, making them intelligent and powerful agents for automation.

AI powered recruitment chatbots can automate upto 70% of the grunt work- from saving contact details, answering common questions, and keeping candidates updated throughout the process.

However, chatbots should only be used at the initial stages of the hiring process (discovery, application, screening). In the final stages, a human touch is essential.

Some of the applications of recruitment chatbots are:

  • Welcome a candidate on the careers' page and answer any questions they might have.
  • Ask for their contact details to reach out with more information later.
  • Answer any questions around work culture, career progression, leave policy etc.
  • Pre-qualify the candidates for a particular role.
  • Be an interactive assistant as they go through the application process.
  • Inform them about the company's hiring process, and familiarize them with the work culture.
  • Pitch them the role.
  • Schedule the first round of interview for qualified candidates.

3. Conversational assessments (skill based hiring)

56% of tech acquisition leaders say that their biggest challenge is identifying the right candidates from a large application pool.

For most roles, the recruitment team does not have the skills they need to assess candidates for. Deciding which candidates would be likely to perform well in the interviews involves a lot of guesswork and pattern matching. AI based skills assessment tools are capable of helping recruiters narrow down the candidate pool from hundreds of applicants to the top 10% who have the minimum qualifications for the role. Given the AI's ability to screen candidates 24*7 and at scale, this reduces the screening time from a couple of weeks to a couple days and improves time-to-hire.

According to recruitment firm Hays, 92% employers cited skills shortage as a major reason for the negative impact on productivity. While AI cannot magically upskill unqualified candidates, it can help recruitment teams cast a wider net, to find qualified candidates.

Instead of forcing candidates to go through a traditional assessment, conversational assessments use friendly messaging and intelligent chatbots to engage candidates and screen them for on-the-job skills and suitability for a role. Candidates love conversational assessments because they are fast, intuitive and feel like an interview rather than a test.

Read more about conversational assessments here.

4. Candidate engagement

AI can be game-changing in terms of empowering recruiters to reach new, more lucrative candidates and in terms of engaging them in unprecedented ways.

Having an AI complement your role means having someone 24/7 to automate applications, candidate queries, screening and scheduling interviews- meaning you can move faster. While AI cannot create the personal 1:1 relationship with the candidate, it makes sure the candidate has a positive experience and never feels abandoned and frees up your time to do build the relationship.

With B2C companies like Netflix and Amazon providing for hyper personalized experiences to consumers, candidates today expect nothing less from businesses with respect to the recruitment experience. For decades, top candidates have complained about getting overwhelmed with recruiter spam for irrelevant roles. With AI coming into the picture, recruiters can now reach out with roles that resonate a candidate's job preferences, experience level and skillset. In a world of recruiter spam, AI gives you the opportunity to stand out in the mind of the candidate with a personalized pitch leading to higher candidate conversion and a lower time-to-hire.

5. Creating unbiased job descriptions that attracts diverse talent:

Studies have shown that the words we use in a job description might be the reason we are unable to attract diverse talent. For e.g. words such are dominant and challenging are seen to attract lesser female candidates.

Research has also shown that men feel confident applying for a role when they consider themselves confident in some or most of the skills listed in a Job Description (JD). On the other hard, women are less likely to apply unless they feel competent in every skill listed on the JD. To attract a more diverse pool, AI can help you ensure that the JD specifies only the must have skills for the role.

A job advertisement is often the first way that a potential candidate learns about a company. AI can help you understand the potentially discriminatory words you might be using in your job descriptions with respect to gender, age or ethnicity, to help reach a more diverse candidate pool. AI can also improve job advertisements through guidance on tone, voice, and length to reduce biases.

Try our Job Description Generator, for creating quick and editable JDs.

6. Scheduling interviews

One of the biggest bottlenecks in recruitment is scheduling interviews (also happens to be the most boring). With AI assistants like x.ai that you can include in your email conversations to take over on cue and schedule interviews at mutually convenient times, you no longer have to spend going back and forth.

7. Reaching out to passive candidates

Passive candidates are individuals not actively seeking a new role. Passive sourcing algorithms can look for candidate more intelligently across datasets with datapoints in the millions and find the signal in the noise. This might also include information from a candidate's public social media profiles, enabling recruiters to reach out in a personalized manner. Having millions of datapoints on job switches in every industry, an AI can be trained to identify the candidates who are most likely to be open to switching at a given time. 98% employers report that passive candidates are an important source of talent.

AI tools talent acquisition teams should explore:

  • Conversational assessments: Adaface
  • Unbiased job descriptions: Textio
  • Scheduling interviews: x.ai
  • Automated candidate sourcing: Hiretual
  • Candidate engagement: Mya

The challenges of using AI in recruitment

Skepticism from HR leaders

For decades HR functions have been promised tools that would make their job easier, and most of these tools have disappeared since. HR leaders have since been skeptical of HR trends around automation. The use of AI in recruitment however, isn’t a trend. AI is here to stay. There are proven case studies of how companies have been able to automate tasks using AI.

Bias

While one benefit of using AI is that it can remove the unconcious bias humans have while evaluating candidates. AI is however trained to look for patterns, which might reintroduce bias into the system. For e.g. an AI might learn to prefer candidate who went to a specific school.

Will AI replace recruiters

While AI is set to play a big role in recruiting in the coming years, only 14% talent acquisition professionals are worried about AI taking away their jobs. They don't need to though.

AI will automated the structured, menial tasks. The core of the recruiting profession is the one that requires a human touch, and AI frees up their time to focus on what matters.

Here's what AI can't replace:

  • Evaluating soft skills and cultural fit: One of the best ways for recruiters to judge interpersonal skills is by informal conversation with the candidate, which is one of the things they're good at and cannot be replaced by an AI.
  • Building a relationship with the candidates: When a candidate is deciding between multiple offers, or is deliberating whether they should switch from their current role, the relationship with the recruiter can play a key role and make the difference between them accepting or rejecting the offer.
  • Pitching the role to candidates and convincing them: Neuroscientists working on decision making have proven that decisions are largely emotional, not logical. A job switch is one of the most important decisions one makes, and taking a personal approach with the candidate gets you a front-view seat to watching the candidate make that decision. Getting to know them personally can enable you to pitch the role with the parts that are the important to them.

The human parts of the recruitment process are fairly AI-proof.

Companies already using AI in their recruitment process

The Singapore government currently uses conversational assessments for their tech hiring.

They plug in the Adaface assessment chatbot with their apply button. As soon as a candidate hits apply, they are redirected to a chatbot conversation with an intelligent bot, Ada who collects their details and asks technical questions to validate their skills for the role, and programming and debugging questions to check their coding skills.

Singapore government uses the Adaface assessment chatbot

Hilton uses AI to capture, screen and assess thousands of applicants for their contact center team across the US. Hilton uses NLP capabilities to engage and qualify candidates, and this automation has helped them improve recruiter productivity.

Unilever claims to be saving hundreds of thousands of pounds each year by replacing recruiter screens with an AI system that does automated video interviews.

Unlike other recruiting trends in technology and innovation, it looks like AI recruitment practices and recruiting automation are here to stay.