January 15, 2019

Intelligent Hiring: How AI is Transforming the Ways We Hire

Artificial intelligence is already changing the way companies hire. About one-third of companies worldwide are already using intelligent hiring tools to improve their hiring practices, Deloitte researchers Michael Stephan, David Brown and Robin Erickson write.

AI-powered tools help recruiters and hiring managers find patterns in past hires and current candidates. By doing so, they improve their understanding of success within a particular position, says Jacob Zabkowicz, vice president and general manager of North American RPO at Korn Ferry. It also helps them pinpoint the qualities that make that success possible.

For example, says Zabkowicz, “In a search for a global automotive maker, we discovered that in one country there was a significant movement of executives from the luxury goods sector to the automotive sector – a relationship that wouldn’t have been obvious without AI.” Spotting these types of relationships can help companies zero in on the best places to find top candidates.

The potential applications of intelligent hiring are vast. But the results boil down to greater efficiencies in familiar places: in time, in money and in performance.

Save Time and Avoid Manual Tasks

Perhaps the most time-consuming task in hiring is to sift through hundreds of potential candidates in order to choose the handful that offer the most promise for the job, says Tracy Repchuk, founder of InnerSurf International.

Incorporating artificial intelligence into the hiring process frees up staff time in two ways. First, it reduces the time required to search through applicant pools and process resumes. Second, it assigns the remaining time required to a computer, allowing human staff members to focus on higher-value tasks, says Mike Dachenhaus at Recruiting Trends & Talent Tech.

“To me, a revolution is getting the one resource that can’t be recovered, and that is time,” says Repchuk.

Pass On Time-Consuming Tasks

Currently, recruiters estimate that they lose 14 hours a week to manually completing tasks they believe could be automated, says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. Creators of intelligent hiring tools have sought to reduce these lost hours by focusing on routine, pattern-driven tasks, like matching resumes to job descriptions.

As intelligent hiring improves, it may help recruiters and human resources professionals save time in other areas, as well. For instance, at the 27th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, a research team led by Dazhong Shen discussed its work on artificial intelligence that could “effectively learn the representative perspectives of different job interview processes from the successful job interview records in history.”

A tool that can learn from a company’s ever-growing set of hiring data could help interviewers save time in a number of ways. For instance, the system could recommend effective interview questions and provide samples of past answers that indicate a higher likelihood of success with the company. Interviewers, in turn, could focus their attention on honing their in-person interviewing skills rather than planning questions.

That tool could also create targeted job ads and help hiring managers choose the right audiences for each ad, thereby attracting a better pool of candidates.

The Value of Free Time

When recruiters and hiring managers have more time in their workdays, their focus can shift to relationship-building.

“Human connections are, and will always be, a critical component to retaining top employees,” says Adrienne Tom, founder of Career Impressions. To keep your best people, pass the tasks of sorting through applicants’ resumes to an AI-enabled system, and focus on connecting with the employees your company most needs to retain.

applicant preparing, representing intelligent hiring

Save Money By Making Better Hires

Much of the conversation surrounding artificial intelligence and the workforce focuses on ways in which AI makes certain jobs obsolete. Yet as Satya Ramaswamy notes in the Harvard Business Review, there are multiple ways to use intelligent hiring to save money without putting recruiters or human resources staff members out of a job.

Save the Costs of Turnover

The cost of replacing a poor hire can be surprisingly high. That’s because a person who is a poor fit can cause a ripple effect that reduces productivity on other teams, further draining the company’s resources.

Each hire, good or bad, generates a significant amount of information that can be analyzed and compared to the hire’s performance on the job in order to improve future hiring decisions, says Rudina Seseri, founder and managing partner of Glasswing Ventures. In the past, however, this data was rarely collected. When it was collected and used to inform hiring decisions, the data used was often fragmentary and retrieved from the memories and experience of the staff involved in hiring, rather than analyzed in a systematic way.

Intelligent hiring systems can collect and analyze this information, providing a view of the company’s hiring history and pointing out the commonalities shared by the organization’s highest-performing veterans. Having this information makes it easier to choose new hires with similar characteristics.

Improve Team Efficiency

Workers spend more time behind their desks than they did 20 years ago, says Josh Bersin, yet productivity has remained flat in recent years. Organizational hierarchies of the past haven’t kept up with the way people are hired or the work they’re expected to do, Bersin says. This leads to confusion and burnout as staff struggle to perform within a structure that no longer supports the results they’re tasked with achieving.

Intelligent hiring not only changes the way hiring itself occurs but also impacts the way teams are built and function together. When hiring systems have the data necessary to assess for factors like cultural fit or suitability for particular projects, the entire organization can become more nimble.


Build a Competitive Advantage

The idea that good people make successful businesses is self-apparent to many organizations, but the task of finding the right people to build and maintain a competitive advantage is a complex one. Intelligent hiring can help in several ways.

Predict Performance

Many hiring managers choose interview questions, schedule testing or ask for portfolios in search of the answer to a single question: How can we predict each candidate’s performance?

One answer is to use artificial intelligence to analyze data and identify patterns, says Chris Nicholson, co-founder and CEO of Skymind. “The smartest recruiters and hiring managers would start gathering resumes, performance reviews, work product, any information at all about highly successful people that already work for them and plug that into an algorithm to figure out what you are looking for,” Nicholson says. The patterns that emerge can be used as a guide to choosing new hires.

Leverage the Power of Diversity

Diverse hiring makes good business sense. A study by McKinsey & Company researchers, led by Vivian Hunt and published in January 2018, found that increased diversity in the executive suite is correlated with above-average profitability, while increased uniformity among executives is correlated with below-average profitability.

Even when humans commit to recruiting more diverse talent, however, unconscious biases can still complicate the situation, says Brian Reaves, chief diversity and inclusion officer at Dell. “Even with the best intentions, hiring decisions can still be influenced by personal factors we may not even be aware of.”

When employed thoughtfully, intelligent hiring platforms can help reduce the effect of unconscious bias. We will explore this in much more detail in an upcoming post.

computer chip with a businessman logo on it representing intelligent hiring

Putting Intelligent Hiring to Work

The thought of putting computers in charge of a relationship-intensive field like human resources or recruiting leaves some professionals feeling wary. Can AI really improve hiring if candidates are communicating with an impersonal piece of software rather than another person?

The way to address these concerns, says Raj Mukherjee at Indeed, is to treat intelligent hiring as a tool to support human resources and recruiting professionals, not as a replacement for their skills or expertise.

By handing repetitive and time-consuming tasks to the technology, these professionals become better able to focus on building and maintaining the types of relationships humans only have with other humans.

Treating intelligent hiring as a tool also helps allay concerns in other areas of performance, such as preventing bias.

For the time being, it appears that intelligent hiring will need the guidance and intervention of human professionals. When used to supplement professionals’ decisions, however, the software doesn’t merely improve a business’s bottom line — it also improves the way humans connect to one another.

Images by: Tyler Nix, Wavebreak Media Ltd/©123RF.com, Weerapat Kiatdumrong/©123RF.com