5 ways AI is helping businesses hire better – and two ways it isn’t

Artificial intelligence has supercharged recruitment, helping job hunters to improve their CVs and recruiters to identify the best candidates. But there are issues lurking beneath the surface

AI is transforming business practices, not least in recruitment. Gone are the days of placing a job advert in a newspaper or on a listings site and sitting back to wait for the right applicant to respond. Today’s hiring managers can use AI to help them find the right candidate, at speed. 

But how is AI changing recruitment for the better? And is it perhaps a hindrance?

Better applications, faster filtering

The staple of the hiring process, the CV, is the top item in the tech shake-up of HR. 

Tools such as ChatGPT can help applicants to optimise their CV. Robert Symons, senior vice-president for EMEA at SmartRecruiters, explains: “Candidates point these new tools to a job description and the AI identifies relevant keywords and suggests improvements to their CV to get them through to the next step.”

That might sound as if conventional CV filters are redundant – but here too AI is helping. Indeed, it can help hiring managers to screen volumes of submissions in a fraction of the time that it would take a human.

“A recruiter spends about 7 seconds on a CV, skim-reading it for things like a competitor’s name, reviewing that profile before moving on to the next because they have such a large quantity to go through,” Symons says.

“AI, though, is like having a ‘co-pilot’ to read across all those CVs. It goes far beyond keyword recognition – it can analyse career paths, tenure, skills and many more data points, which all helps to prioritise candidates who more closely match the intent of the job description.”

Chattier bots and more helpful virtual assistants

AI-powered chatbots have come a long way in the past four years, according to Symons, and they’re now making companies more accessible to potential applicants. 

“By using neuro-linguistic programming and machine learning, chatbots can handle those initial interactions with candidates – for example, answering frequently asked questions, providing information about the company and the application process, and increasingly they can now even schedule interviews and interact with people and collect data throughout the recruiting process.”

The benefits go further, too. “Chatbots are available 24/7 on organisations’ websites,” Symons adds. “They’re multilingual and can operate across a range of messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Messenger.” Analysis of a chatbot used by one of Symons’ clients showed that 70% of candidate questions were answered outside working hours.

Speedier time-to-interview process

While the idea of using machines to sift through CVs and cover letters, and speed up decisions of who to call for interview will be fairly familiar to most hiring managers, some recruiters go further and use AI to streamline the interview process itself.

“As a recruiter, one of my biggest bugbears was scheduling interviews across multiple diaries,” says Symons. “But AI scheduling tools can promote available slots and even push messages out to the candidates, read the response and go ahead with self-scheduling.”

Here, the value of AI lies in the time saved. “It can free up time for higher-value interactions between candidates and hiring managers,” Symons explains. “I think that’s where the technology has the most impact.”

Smarter jobs boards and personalised recommendations

One of the biggest challenges any recruiter must overcome is getting the vacancy in front of the right demographic. The targeting features on sites such as LinkedIn have been around for some time but these systems are getting smarter all the time.

“The latest systems are more likely to surface roles that perhaps job hunters weren’t considering. That widens the candidate’s perspective on roles that might be interesting, and highlights to them why they’re suitable. It also helps employers to make better data-driven decisions and to optimise and improve their hiring processes.”

For instance, by drawing on past recruiting data, AI can identify the most effective channels for recruiters to engage suitable candidates. This can even be as granular as automatically making small adjustments to listings to ensure they reach the right person.

“If you look at the programmatic advertising area right now, AI and machine learning are the driving force behind it,” says Symons. All that innovation is heading into recruitment too.

More in-depth testing

Psychometric assessments and personality tests have been gaining prominence in application processes for several years, but the arrival of AI is enabling employers and recruiters to get even more information about a candidate’s strengths and character from them.

Robert Newry, co-founder and managing director of gamified testing provider Arctic Shores, says: “Traditional types of tests gave some people an advantage and disadvantaged others, so we wanted a different way of uncovering potential.

“The reports from these kinds of tests are a meaningful way of providing good feedback, keeping candidates engaged, and giving them information about themselves. It’s an overview of their potential skills and experience which they could apply elsewhere, and it also supports their interview process at the company they’re applying to.”

Two ethical quandaries for AI-powered recruiters to answer

As promising as these applications of AI in recruitment seem, important issues need to be resolved before AI tools can be safely rolled out as a standard part of recruitment practice…

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