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There has been a tug of war between technology and the human element in hiring for quite some time. Technology helps facilitate smarter, more efficient practices. Humans have a sensitivity that picks up on subtle nuances that technology can't. And some say that artificial intelligence or AI is the perfect combination of both. Will this alter the future of recruitment?
AI blends technology with human-like discernment and might be the best method yet for sourcing candidates who fit the company with precision and eliminating hiring bias once and for all. But with every advance, there are pros and cons to measure. Is AI really capable of understanding what humans inherently know? And is the human thought process best for finding the right talent in the first place?
AI Has Come A Long Way
AI isn't like the super futuristic representations that you see in the movies. Dating sites such as eHarmony have used similar matching capabilities for years. RealMatch candidate matching technology already cuts through the noise to place the right job ads in front of the right job candidates based on predetermined criteria.
Koru, one company that's developing AI capabilities, uses data from successful, current employees as a benchmark for finding new employees. Their focus is on job candidate competencies and personal attributes.
HireVue goes as far as to detect temperature fluctuations and pupil dilation during a recorded interview, according to Fast Company. Their goal is to gain a deeper understanding of an interviewee's emotional response, which the AI could then factor into the overall evaluation of the candidate.
What Might it Offer?
Knowledge is power, and that's one of the promises that artificial intelligence is using to woo employers. Another is eliminating discrimination. Instead of merely gleaning more data, AI also interprets it, which developers hope can rule out issues such as gender and age bias as well as finding better hires among young people who haven't had time to establish a work track record.
This could be a "best of both worlds" scenario. The technology is capable of finding out much more about prospective employees, and the non-human intelligence can evaluate it without injecting any discriminatory elements.
Even some of the most in-depth hiring practices are subject to human bias. And AI can't eliminate that entirely, at least not right now. Fast Company says that in most cases, at least right now, humans are the final determiners of whether or not to hire.
What are the Downsides?
As much as AI is intended to eliminate bias, it might introduce new bias on its own. As with any program, it's only as perfect as its designers. And if the technology looks for trendy, buzzy keywords, another segment of potential hires could be eliminated unfairly.
IBM's Kenexa Smarter Workforce division director of employee voice and assessment, Jay Dorio, tells Fast Company, "The issue that I have as an organizational psychologist is that you can claim to measure all sorts of fancy buzzwords" but they could become a new basis for discrimination.
There are other issues. Many companies say that implementing AI isn't profitable, at least not yet. And as humans are inclined to be, it's difficult to hand over the decision-making reins to technology without interfering. For now, that might be a good thing.
Sourcing and hiring appear to be headed in the AI direction, and with good reason. A person can only find so much information about a candidate. Technology is capable of much more, and it's also able to eliminate the fluff and condense what's relevant to the employer. A person inherently adds bias to any decision because that's how humans operate. AI doesn't measure whether a candidate is male, female, 25 or 60 years old, at least not unless the employer specifically wants it to.
These are the early days of this promising technology. In time, it might prove to be as ordinary as using a personal computer at home. If developers and test subjects have their way, the future holds a hiring practice that always chooses the best available candidate for the job. AI saves time and reduces errors and oversights, and that's a worthy goal for any employer.