A cautionary blog by Mark Thomas of mexec
Improvements in the efficiency and affordability of artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud-based computing have created an abundance of tools, software, and services for the recruitment industry. These have been largely embraced by the industry as they have significant potential to enhance staff efficiency and productivity, improve quality of hires, increase profitability, and reduce bias in the recruiting process. However, as with all new technologies, there are downsides to using AI software in recruitment that should be carefully considered moving forward. In this blog post, I will explore some of these ideas and give my own perspective on how they could be approached.
The applications of AI in the recruitment process are comprehensive and include the automation of candidate sourcing, CV and contact screening, cognitive and skills testing, meeting planning, reference and background checks, and many other administrative tasks. There is little argument to be made against the fact that many of these applications are indeed helpful and useful tools, nor that they offer significant value to the recruiter, agency, client, and candidate alike. However, overuse of these applications can reduce or remove altogether one of the most important parts of recruitment – human interaction.
Interacting with potential candidates and applicants for a role is a crucial part of the recruitment process, and the sum of these interactions is what determines the overall candidate experience. A positive candidate experience can help companies to attract and retain top talent, while a negative candidate experience can damage a company’s reputation and make it harder to attract top talent in the future. One of the downsides of using AI software in recruitment is that it can negatively impact candidate experience at several stages of the recruiting process.
For example, AI software may be used to pre-screen resumes, and candidates who do not meet specific criteria may be automatically rejected without ever being given a chance to speak with a human recruiter. This can leave candidates feeling frustrated and devalued. It is essential to remember that candidates are not just a set of data points, but rather individuals with unique skills, experiences, and personalities. By relying solely on AI software to screen resumes, companies may miss out on potential candidates who could be a great fit for the organization.
Additionally, some AI software may rely on algorithms that are biased or discriminatory, which can result in qualified candidates being rejected. For example, AI software may screen out candidates who have gaps in their resumes, assuming that they have been out of work for an extended period. However, these gaps could be due to a variety of reasons, such as taking time off to care for a family member or completing further education. Thus, automatically rejecting candidates with gaps in their CVs may mean that a company misses out on engaging with candidates who could in fact offer valuable skills and experience to the organization.
Relationship building is another essential part of recruitment. A recruiter who can build strong relationships with candidates can attract top talent and help to ensure that the recruitment process runs smoothly. Furthermore, the continuation and progression of these professional relationships may offer both parties many different opportunities to engage in discussions about career progression and business opportunities. Relationships are built on trust, communication, and understanding, which are difficult to replicate with AI software. Using AI software to send out automated messages to candidates, or using AI Chatbots to answer questions and enquiries from prospective applicants or candidates is often seen as impersonal and detached. Candidates may feel like they are just a number to the organization, rather than an individual with unique skills and experiences. This can make it harder to build a rapport with candidates and can result in the candidate feeling disengaged from the recruitment process – a negative consequence for all parties concerned.
Similarly, AI software may not be able to pick up on subtle cues or nuances in communication that are essential for building strong relationships. For example, a recruiter may pick up on a candidate’s enthusiasm for a particular role and use this to build a stronger relationship with the candidate. However, AI software may not be able to pick up on this enthusiasm, which can result in the candidate feeling like they are not being heard by the organization.
To avoid or minimise these negative effects on candidate experience, companies should use AI software to complement, rather than replace, human recruiters. When used effectively as part of a ‘people-centric’ recruitment process, AI software can still be used to automate many of the time-consuming, tedious, and repetitive tasks that recruiters perform – leaving them with more time to focus on building relationships with candidates. This forward-thinking approach to AI in recruitment focuses on value in the long run and can help to create a more positive candidate experience, as candidates feel valued and heard by the organization.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate my point is by sharing with you one simple fact; By using ChatGPT to create draft of this blog (which I then heavily edited), I was able to spend more time where it matters today – talking to people about their human experiences.