AI in Recruiting: What to Know

Artificial intelligence is reshaping talent acquisition. Here’s how.

Written by Jeff Rumage
Published on May. 31, 2024
AI in Recruiting: What to Know
Image: Shutterstock / Built In

The recruiting world is on the cusp of transformation due to artificial intelligence, which is already helping recruiters source candidates, research roles and automate administrative work.

What Is AI in Recruiting?

Recruiters use AI to write job descriptions, craft interview questions and identify qualified applicants, among other use cases.

Some experts say AI holds the potential to reduce bias and accelerate a shift to skills-based hiring, while others are concerned about it overlooking candidates and perpetuating bias. AI is still an emerging technology, after all, and the stakes couldn’t be higher when it comes to hiring the right candidate through a fair, equitable process.

 

What Is AI in Recruiting?

AI recruiting broadly refers to the use of artificial intelligence, particularly automation, in the hiring process. Recruiters and human resources professionals use AI recruiting software for every stage of recruitment, from sourcing and screening candidates to analyzing interview responses. They also use generative AI tools to create job descriptions, summarize resumes and draft interview questions.

While AI can help recruiters work more efficiently, fill roles faster and find better candidates, it is still just a tool to assist recruiters. “AI should never replace — and could never replace — the human-to-human touch in the recruiting process,” Kerry Wang, co-founder of AI-powered hiring software Searchlight, told Built In.

Indeed, human recruiters will always be needed to build rapport, assess interpersonal skills and make decisions based on organizational needs. Even as AI advances, humans should remain intimately involved in key areas of the recruitment process, like applicant screening, job interviews and candidate selection.

 

How AI Is Being Used in Recruiting

Roughly 65 percent of recruiters use AI in their hiring process, according to a 2022 Tidio study (though a 2024 Mercer study put that number much lower at 14 percent). 

Here are some of the most popular use cases for AI in recruiting.

Automating Administrative Tasks

Recruiters use AI to handle repetitive administrative tasks. Many AI recruiting platforms, like Paradox and Phenom, integrate with the recruiters’ calendar to automate the scheduling of candidate interviews, as well as send outreach or rejection emails to a large number of candidates, while tailoring the personal details for each candidate.

Writing Job Descriptions

Recruiters use AI to create job descriptions for new roles. Generative AI offers inspiration by providing job responsibilities for similar titles, and that template can be refined to reflect the needs of the hiring manager and the mission and values of the organization.

AI tools can also be asked to rewrite job descriptions so that they’re unbiased and inclusive, which is something commonly overlooked by recruiters, according to Theresa Fesinstine, founder of peoplepower.ai, a consulting firm that teaches HR professionals how to leverage AI tools.

“Even though you do your best and you think you’re being really unbiased, technology just has a way, when directed appropriately, to kind of siphon through a lot of that and make sure that the language is as inclusive as possible,” Fesinstine said.

Finding Stronger Candidates

Searching LinkedIn for potential candidates is time-consuming, but AI tools like Fetcher and SeekOut help recruiters quickly find qualified candidates through matching keywords, detailed filters and personalized messaging capabilities. 

AI’s ability to identify similarities between a job description and a candidates’ resume is also useful for ranking the most qualified candidates. Some AI recruiting platforms, like Pymetrics and Searchlight, analyze candidates’ soft skills and working styles to determine if they will match the culture of an organization.

Generating Interview Questions

Generative AI tools, like ChatGPT, and AI recruitment platforms, like HireVue and InterviewAI, are used to generate interview questions tailored to the position and the applicant’s background. This helps recruiters who are hiring for multiple roles with numerous candidates but have little time to prepare.

Pre-Screening Applicants

A number of AI recruiting platforms like HireVue and Paradox have developed pre-screening tests to sort out the most qualified candidates. These pre-screening tests could include behavioral assessments, virtual job tryouts and skills tests. By evaluating candidates on these skills, recruiters don’t have to spend unnecessary time talking to unqualified candidates.

Related ReadingAI Can Help With Recruiting. Here’s How.

 

Why Is AI Recruiting Important?

Recruiters are often bombarded with hundreds — sometimes thousands — of applications for one role. AI can help them sort through resumes, prepare for interviews and streamline administrative tasks in the recruiting process.

AI can also make powerful insights and connections. For example, it can analyze how relevant a candidate’s resume is to a given job description, identify a candidates’ skills gap for that role or it could recommend entirely different jobs that might draw upon those same skills.

“Generative AI helps us do a lot of really hard data tasks that have been a struggle for decades, like resume parsing or skills taxonomies,” Lindsey Zuloaga, chief data scientist at HireVue, told Built In.

AI-powered recruiting will be even more important as AI eliminates and adds new jobs to the labor market. If there aren’t any candidates with direct experience to a newly created role, a recruiter could use AI to find candidates with transferable skills that are most relevant to that job. 

“[Experience-based hiring] is just not going to work in the future because jobs will be changing so quickly that there will be a lot of jobs that no one’s ever had before,” Zuloaga said. “How do we use data to understand what skills are transferable?” 

This is also useful for recruiters who want to look internally before hiring an outside candidate.

“With AI, companies have unparalleled visibility into the skills and talent of their internal workforce, which means the next time they use AI to generate a job description, they can also use AI to surface the right candidates within their own employee pools rather than looking elsewhere,” Wang said.

Related ReadingTop Examples of AI in HR and Recruiting

 

Advantages of Using AI in Recruiting

AI can help recruiters on several different levels. Here are the most significant benefits.

More Efficiency and Productivity

In addition to automating repetitive administrative tasks, AI can save time by developing job descriptions and creating interview questions specific to each open role — research that would otherwise take hours out of a recruiters’ day.

“I think the overall impact of AI recruiting is that recruiters will get to be more strategic,” Searchlight co-founder Anna Wang told Built In. “They get to spend more time on the art of recruiting: developing the necessary human connections, developing trust and connecting with candidates to understand the match between that candidate’s motivations and what the company has to offer.”

Better Matching

AI can sort through hundreds of applications in a matter of seconds to find the candidate that is most qualified for the job. In addition to being quick, AI technology can also provide a more comprehensive search and be more accurate in its recommendations.

“Thirty-minute [interviews] do not do an accurate job of representing someone’s skills or abilities, and especially how they would demonstrate those skills and abilities on the job,” Kerry Wang said. “So what AI is doing is bringing a much needed revolution to recruiting so that people can be matched to roles in a much more fair and accurate way.”

Finding the right match for the job is important from an operational perspective but also a cost perspective. If that candidate leaves shortly after they’re hired, the company won’t see a payoff for the time they spent training the individual. They will also have to go through another hiring process, which is expensive.

Faster Hiring Decisions

AI can reduce the amount of time (and money) required to fill a position, which benefits job applicants and the company alike.

More than half of organizations are unhappy with the amount of time it takes to fill a position, according to a Harvard Business Review report. Speed can be important in busy, high-churn sectors like restaurants, and it can also help you lock down the best candidate in a competitive hiring market. 

An efficient hiring process matters to candidates, too. Nearly 40 percent of workers surveyed by Robert Half said they lose interest in a job if the hiring process is too lengthy, so speeding up your time-to-hire also improves the candidate experience.

Related ReadingHere’s What AI Does Best in the Hiring Process

 

Disadvantages of Using AI in Recruiting

Despite all its benefits, AI is still an emerging technology that comes with flaws and limitations. These are a few of the downsides to keep in mind.

Potential for Bias

AI models trained on data that reflect societal biases may penalize some candidates who don’t align with the dominant culture. At least one AI-powered ATS company has faced lawsuits alleging their AI discriminates based on race, age and disability. 

The potential for AI bias has inspired a number of AI recruiting regulations, most notably New York City Local Law 144. If a company uses automated tools to make hiring or promotion decisions, the law requires them to conduct an annual bias audit, publish the results of those audits and notify candidates that an automated system is being used. 

That said, AI recruiting advocates argue AI can actually reduce hiring bias by creating more inclusive job descriptions or anonymizing demographic details. AI algorithms can also be adjusted to account for any keywords that disproportionately correlate with a demographic group. 

Still, HR leaders have mixed opinions on AI bias. According to a Greenhouse study, 28 percent of HR leaders think AI reduces bias, but another 37 percent disagree. 

Feels Impersonal

Emails that were obviously written by AI come across as cold and impersonal, which is often a turn off for job candidates.

“Recruiters who are letting AI handle their initial outreach to a candidate are missing out on an opportunity to stand out from other recruiters,” Mike Peditto, director of talent at Teal, told Built In.” If a candidate has options, they’re going to lean the other way.”

Requires Further Vetting

Recruiters aren’t the only ones who have discovered the benefits of AI. Job candidates increasingly use AI tools to align their resume to the job description — even when it doesn’t reflect their actual skills and experiences. This results in more false matches, which requires a human recruiter to get involved and vet the candidates manually. 

Even without the false match issue, human recruiters still play a large role in vetting candidates. A good recruiter will still check the work of AI to make sure qualified candidates don’t fall between the cracks.

“Even in the [ATS] systems where there is an AI giving a score, a recruiter still needs to go through and view them and accept or decline them,” Peditto said. “They may spend less time on [resumes without relevant keywords], but it is still a manual review.”

Related ReadingYour Job Descriptions Are Biased. AI Can Help.

 

AI Recruiting Tools and Software

Eightfold is an AI recruiting platform that matches candidates with jobs based on their skills, experience and potential. The software, which taps previous applicants and existing employees in its sourcing efforts, aims for diversity by masking personal information and flagging potential biases.

 

Fetcher is an AI-based tool that helps recruiters scour the web, including social media sites like LinkedIn, for candidates that match their search criteria. The platform sends notification emails directly to recruiters and allows recruiters to send personalized messages to multiple candidates.

 

Gem is an all-in-one tool that allows recruiters to source candidates, automatically schedule interviews and send personalized outreach messages. It’s also an ATS system that tracks the history of interactions with each candidate and creates reports about hiring data. The platform, which is used by more than 1,200 recruiting teams, says it can help recruiters fill vacancies five times faster.

 

HireVue uses AI chatbots to communicate with candidates and recommend jobs that match their skills. The platform also generates interview questions and assesses candidates skills’ through virtual job tryouts. It also hosts video interviews (either live or asynchronous) and evaluates candidates’ interview answers.

 

Paradox is a conversational AI tool that communicates via text message with candidates to fill out a job application, schedule a job interview and update them on the status of their application. The platform can also conduct skills assessments and host virtual job interviews.

 

Searchlight was designed to help recruiters find the best candidates by analyzing resumes, conducting reference checks and interpreting behavioral self-assessments. Companies who have used Searchlight have filled positions 40 percent faster with four times more accuracy, according to the company. In 2024, Searchlight was acquired by Multiverse and now focuses on internal skill gaps and mobility.

 

Textio is a generative AI tool that helps company leaders use more inclusive language in employee feedback and job descriptions. Its Textio Loop product is designed to generate inclusive job descriptions that are free of harmful language, and it allows recruiters to shift the tone of the language to appeal to different demographic groups.

Frequently Asked Questions

AI is used in nearly every stage of the recruiting process. It is used to generate job descriptions, interview questions and summaries of candidates’ resumes. It can also be used to find candidates that best match the companies’ search criteria for the role.

 

Recruiters are not going to be replaced by AI because they are able to build rapport with candidates, answer detailed questions about the company and gauge whether a candidate would get along with other members of the team. Ultimately, a recruiter is necessary to select a candidate that best meets the needs of the organization.

Hiring Now
System1
AdTech • Big Data • Digital Media • Marketing Tech
SHARE