Recruiting AI Can Be Objective — If We Design It Responsibly
Besides excellent leadership, an airtight business plan and a unique, in-demand product, one of the decisive factors determining a company’s success or failure is its talent pool. Skilled teams and a positive work culture make all the difference.
As a result, the recruitment of great talent is one of the challenges companies of all sizes face, regardless of whether they’re a fledgling startup or a mature corporation. Qualified applicants are in such high demand that some speak of a talent war.
Besides their hard skills (like education and previous experience), soft factors — often subsumed under “culture fit” — contribute to a candidate’s ability to perform well in their new role. The competition for qualified applicants and the need to hire the best fit has turned recruiting into a complex and resource-intensive task.
The Promise of AI
In recent years, leaps in artificial intelligence have helped reduce this complexity considerably. Through AI, organizations can rapidly analyze enormous amounts of data and use it to make informed decisions and predictions. In a recruiting application, HR teams can leverage AI to evaluate a candidate’s fit and aptitude.
Thanks to their immense potential benefits, AI solutions are being adapted at a rapid rate. In Sage’s recent survey of 500 senior HR and people leaders, a third said they are changing how they hire by building better candidate experiences for applicants and new hires. While 24 percent of companies are currently using AI for recruitment, that number is expected to grow — with 56 percent reporting they plan to adopt AI in the next year. The pandemic has likely accelerated the pace of change for many of these companies.
Bias in the Traditional Hiring Process
It’s natural for humans to make sense of the world through biases, preconceived opinions and prejudices, but in the recruiting process they are harmful to all parties. Studies show that when hiring new staff, HR managers are more likely to display an affinity bias by selecting candidates that are like them. Even the notion of “culture fit” can lead to discrimination, as it also encourages uniformity among the workforce rather than diversity. There are legal implications for not removing bias from the hiring process, as Facebook recently found themselves in hot water over their emphasis on culture fit.
Unconscious bias — the preferences and prejudices that we don’t realize we have — are inherent to all humans. They often come from our background and aren’t necessarily apparent in day-to-day interactions with others. However, they can negatively inform the decisions we make about the people with whom we surround ourselves. Unless steps are taken to counteract biases, many hiring panels might unwittingly lean toward hiring (or not hiring) candidates based on those implicit prejudices.
There are ways to reduce biases in the hiring process such as reviewing CVs anonymously, asking each candidate the same catalog of questions during the interview and ensuring as diverse a hiring panel as possible. However, eliminating unconscious biases entirely is very difficult.
This is where AI comes in as a valuable tool to reduce time sourcing a diverse pool of interested candidates and contacting them.
AI Can Drive Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
AI-based recruiting software is not only able to screen hundreds of candidates in seconds, but it can also assess data points free from the assumptions, biases and mental fatigue that humans are prone to.
While it is important to note that AI bias can be a problem — mostly due to a lack of diversity in the algorithm-writing — well-coded tools that counter this issue are able to create candidate profiles based on qualifications alone. For example: AI recruiting software like Fetcher are able to track and analyze teams and hiring needs, thereby providing insight into how many prospects hiring managers need to ensure a hire for every role. By combining AI with a “human in the loop,” Fetcher also enables hiring teams to train and monitor data, ensuring a diverse pipeline of interested candidates.
AI software can work around the clock, making the sourcing of passive candidates extremely time efficient. By aggregating information on candidates that might be a good fit from across the web — including professional and social networks — these tools provide comprehensive, up-to-date candidate profiles that are easy to assess.
Even more time can be saved by employing AI software that automatically reaches out to potential candidates by email and sending automated follow-ups and personalized templates without sounding computer-generated. (Fetcher’s recent $6.5 million Series A shows the tremendous potential waiting to be unlocked.)
While hiring took a dip following the COVID-19 lockdown, it is now stabilizing and the talent war is set to resume. Without claiming to be completely infallible, AI tools can create a major advantage by sourcing a diverse pool of candidates in a competitive market — minus the unconscious biases humans are prone to.