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PHOTO: David Blackwell.

Using artificial intelligence (AI) for hiring doesn’t always pay off, as Amazon learned. For some, however, it’s a worthy investment. Nearly all Fortune 500 companies use automation to support the hiring process, according to Penn State University researchers. Further, LinkedIn found in a 2018 report (registration required) that 76 percent feel AI’s impact on recruiting will be at least somewhat significant. Using AI in hiring can be beneficial, but it’s important to know that it's not something your company can just dive into, there are some key considerations to be aware of, experts warn.

Beware of the AI Bias in Hiring

The implementation of AI in the hiring process must be carefully monitored by the people behind the technology to avoid biases. “Companies are using AI assessment tools to attract, screen and hire employees in new ways,” Lynette Yarger, associate professor of information sciences and technology at Penn State, said on her university’s website. “These tools have not been thoroughly tested under the law and raise concerns about the potential for bias, fairness, transparency and accuracy.”

Where does Yarger see AI actually helping the hiring process today? Or at least its intent? Matching online resumes with job openings, reaching out to candidates for interviews and reviewing candidates “expressions, voices and behavior” through online videos. Toss in the candidates social media presence, too. However, Yarger found, “when algorithms use social media profiles as a proxy for measuring organizational fit and predicting the ability of an individual to perform the job, people from significantly different cultural backgrounds may be systemically disadvantaged.”

Hiring managers told LinkedIn in its report that AI is most helpful in these hiring scenarios:

  • Sourcing candidates: 58 percent
  • Screening candidates: 56 percent
  • Nurturing candidates: 55 percent
  • Scheduling candidates: 42 percent
  • Engaging candidates: 24 percent
  • Interviewing candidates: 6 percent

Related Article: Can Artificial Intelligence Weed Out Unconscious Bias?

All About Speed for the Candidate

Kurt Heikkinen, president and CEO of Montage, said we’re “living in the age of the candidate” and that AI infusion into the hiring process is simply a call to employers to make things more efficient. “With the lowest unemployment levels we’ve seen in years, the candidate has more power and influence than ever before,” Heikkinen said. “These candidates have certain expectations from potential employers. They expect the hiring experience to be fast, transparent and easy and match how they interact with technology in every other facet of their life.”

Heikkinen finds that while AI and predictive hiring are not quite mainstream in recruiting, talent acquisition leaders agree they are an accepted concept, according to his company’s research. Nearly half (46 percent) have considered using AI to automate their recruiting processes, while 51 percent say they are confident in using machine learning to inform their hiring decisions. So, while talent acquisition leaders agree AI and predictive analytics could work, they remain cautious about adoption.

Beware of Flawed Algorithms

Using AI in hiring comes with some unintended consequences, according to Keith Johnstone, head of marketing for Peak Sales Recruiting. “AI qualifies candidates based on algorithms that are written by human beings who are inherently flawed,” Johnstone said. He cited a subconscious bias that hiring firms must note. “Unwittingly, those humans that create algorithms incorporate their biases and then the AI technology reinforces that bias,” he said. 

Johnstone cited examples of ad-targeting algorithms showing ads for high-paying jobs to men but not women, and ads for high-interest loans to people in low-income neighborhoods.

Related Article: How Artificial Intelligence Will Impact the Future of Work

Video Interviews Powered By AI

AI interview software has changed the way companies approach the hiring process, said Peter Yang, co-founder of ResumeGo. Instead of having hiring managers tediously interview each job candidate one by one, AI interview software conducts all the interviews for you through video, he noted. “The AI software also has the ability to then grade and rank the candidates' interview performances based on their visual cues and responses,” Yang said. “By automating this part of the hiring process, companies are able to interview more candidates and perform a more thorough screening process, with the end result being better hires.”

Measure the Health of the Hiring Process

Ketan Kapoor, CEO and co-founder of Mettl, said AI engines help gauge the overall performance of the hiring funnel, check recruitment process health and determine what stages require improvements. For instance, he cited, you can precisely know what sourcing channels are performing the best, your current funnel conversion rates at each stage and how candidates are faring against the set of assessments assigned to them. “So,” Kapoor added, “filtering candidates becomes easier as you get data-driven insights into their performance vs. abilities required to succeed at the role.”

You can also measure candidates’ cognitive and psychometric abilities to decide whether they can meet the specific requirements of a role. “Apart from that," Kapoor added, "you can also define the key competencies to excel at a role and measure candidate performance against each of the competencies for data-driven hiring decisions."