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The Use of AI in Company Recruitment: Reducing the Humanity in Hiring?
July 12, 2021 Blog


Written by: Atikah Yusri, Journalist, AOPG

The debate between the use of humans vs technology in the workforce has existed since the first industrial revolution. These debates are usually followed by issues of job availability and the threatened livelihoods of workers whose jobs have been made obsolete. But as we have seen before, the introduction of new technological inventions while shifting or eliminating the need for humans in certain areas can also create new job opportunities for human workers to fulfil.

Nowadays, companies are not looking to replace workers with technology but use technology to streamline the hiring process using Artificial Intelligence (AI). The use of AI by companies in their revamped hiring process has created many questions within the public about the efficacy of the methods used and the impacts that it has on individuals that are currently jobhunting. Like many discussions, it is essential to look at how the integration of technology will impact humanity. Together, we will explore the use of AI in the preliminary resume evaluation and the AI interviewing process, alongside investigating the pros and cons of using AI in the hiring process for both employers and prospective employees.

Preliminary Evaluation of Resumes

The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) allows companies to digitally track, organise and filter candidates during the hiring process in one single accessible database. With the system, recruiters no longer need to spend excruciating hours looking through thousands of resumes and manually sorting them into manageable piles.

The essential functions of different ATS software allow for flexibility in how hiring managers can look at and evaluate the applicants’ resumes. Should the recruiter choose to look through each resume, they can do so effectively as the ATS can extract necessary information and present it in a way that is easy for hiring managers to consume. Saving recruiters from having to search for the required information in poorly designed resumes.

Rankings can also be done by the ATS software by placing a value on each applicant resume based on their suitability to the job descriptions. In this way, the system would look for the necessary qualifications and important keywords that have been included in the resumes. Then, recruiters would be presented with a list, ranking the candidates from most to least suitable for the job position. Suppose a recruiter prefers to search for keywords. In that case, they can opt for that, focusing on what the applicant has written and how it correlates to the job position from the advertisement the company has displayed.

While the essential functions have been mentioned above, the ATS can also help eliminate unsuitable applicants using screening questions. These questions help by allowing the system to reject applicants with incorrect answers automatically. Leaving only willing and qualified applicants to be vetted by the hiring managers. The good thing about ATS is that there are many different ATS providers with their own benefits. For employers, it is a matter of finding the right ATS provider to suit their hiring needs.

What does the use of an ATS mean for applicants in the job market? While the system may seem rigid and unforgiving, it truly depends on how hiring managers choose to sort through the resumes in their database. This does not mean that job seekers cannot put themselves in better positions to be seen in the system; it all begins with the design of the resume. To ensure that the software can detect critical pieces of information, keep the design of your resume simple, using clear headings that the software can quickly scan through and detect. Keep the use of graphic elements to a minimum as while it may give your resume flair, it makes it difficult for the software to read. It also would not hurt for an applicant to create a keyword optimised resume to ensure higher chances of getting seen by a recruiter in the system. These resumes include the necessary words from the recruiter’s job posting and must be tailored to specific job applications.

Using AI Interview Analysis

After submitting their resume, applicants wait to be notified of the interview process. Since the pandemic, companies have begun opting for AI interviews as preliminary interviews to distinguish promising candidates that are then called for in-person interviews. While innovative, many have raised concerns over this form of interviewing as the scoring criteria used is somewhat questionable and has yet to be backed up by hard science. One might insinuate the scoring process to be one based on pseudoscience?

Before getting down into the nitty-gritty discussions, we will have to discuss what an AI interview entails. Depending on the provider that the company has chosen to partner with, an AI interview can either be a pre-recorded interview or a live interview conducted by an Artificial Intelligence using the video of the applicant recorded through their phone. The software then analyses the interview through different criteria according to the specifications of the hiring company. A report is then generated on how well the interviewee has fulfilled the criteria, along with a transcript that the recruiters can choose to look at when deciding on short-listed applicants. In some ways, this form of interview is very beneficial to applicants as it allows them to complete the process at any time suitable for them.

Now, let us look at HireVue, one of the leading companies in the field, whose services include evaluating videos of applicants using facial movement, word choice and speaking voice (intonation). HireVue’s primary goal is to reduce the intrinsic biases present when scoring an interviewee by a human. The problem lies in the amount of objectivity placed on the evaluation of body language and speaking patterns. It is well known that humans are complex creatures that react and think differently, existing in different communities and cultures that subscribe to different norms. Having said that, it is entirely plausible that specific candidates would present themselves in certain ways that are unknowingly flagged by the software as unacceptable. Their scores would be affected without a counterbalance to ensure that background factors are factored in. The same can be said for the intonation of a candidate dependant on their first language and their fluency in the language used for the interview.

On the side of applicants, a study titled “Artificial Intelligence video interviewing for employment: Perspectives from applicants, companies, developer and academicians” by Jin-Young Kim and WanGyu Heo found that although some applicants were satisfied with AI interviews due to consistency and objectivity, others were dissatisfied being interviewed with AI as issues were raised surrounding the digital divide. (Not sure if I should keep this part in)

Pros and Cons of AI Integration

Moving past the discussion of the integration of AI in the different stages of recruitment, we must address the pros and cons of AI in the hiring process and conclude its impact.

Let us begin with the positives:

  • Improves efficiency. Improves the quality of hire.
  • Allows flexibility in the timing of the interviews.
  • Avoids human biases.

The weaknesses:

  • Lack of human judgement.
  • The process becomes impersonal.
  • Does not account for cultural differences in applicants.
  • Can develop biases.

In conclusion, for the points presented above, the use of AI can be both a hindrance and a help to companies as they go through finding new employees. They can make up for a lot of what people lack in the department of objectivity and consistency. Through this discussion, we can understand that they will not be replacing the traditional hiring process entirely anytime soon. It is still crucial for hiring managers and recruiters to be behind the final decisions in order to evaluate candidates on a humanistic level. AI is simply a tool to assist in making the process simpler, allowing time for the processing of more candidates.