Remove bias with ML/AI for recruitment

Kevin McClelland discusses how Eightfold and AI are helping to overcome biases in recruitment.

Remove bias with ML/AI for recruitment

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In this episode, we hear from Kevin McClelland about how Eightfold and artificial intelligence are helping to overcome biases in recruitment.

Announcer: Hello and welcome to Eightfold Radio. Kevin McClelland works with JMP Securities and views recruiting as similar in many ways to scouting players for sports teams. As in sports scouting, in recruiting there are innumerable biases that can creep in and lead to qualified candidates being overlooked. Let’s listen now as Joanne McDougald talks with Kevin about how Eightfold and artificial intelligence are helping to overcome these biases.

Eightfold: Hi and welcome to Eightfold Radio. This is Jo McDougald dialing in from the Rosewood in beautiful Palo Alto, California, or I guess Menlo Park, California, and I’m sitting here with Kevin McClelland from JMP Securities and he’s a financial…

Kevin: Investment banker.

Eightfold: An investment banker, yes, here we go. So I understand that you are not only a friend of Kamal, who’s the president of Eightfold, but also a friend of the industry. And so we just want to dive into your thoughts about what’s going on with AI and machine learning and particularly bringing those technologies to this vital human space. Here we are able to turn what is an arguably and inhumane thing that of machine learning and artificial intelligence, and helping a very human space—the HR and talent acquisition and talent management sides of businesses. What are your thoughts on what’s going on there?

Kevin: Well I think in general AI is being applied to many problems in the industry and we’ve seen it across, whether it’s a supply chain or whether it’s marketing or other areas. I think it’s really interesting what Eightfold is doing applying this to HR, because I think there’s a really big problem out there and a big opportunity out there. Namely, I think, every organization recruits people and I think most organizations do a pretty average job, I think, of being able to find the right talent. So I think approaching this particular problem, it’s a very big problem, it’s one that every organization on the planet that recruits people has. So I think it’s very germane that Eightfold is focusing on this.

Eightfold: I hundred percent agree, I mean this week it’s June 11th and I’ve heard, and read and watched many, many graduation podcasts this week and just hearing all of these graduates. And yesterday in fact on NPR there was a story about new graduates and although the job market is hot, these graduates are preparing themselves for the pain of turning in application after application and not hearing back. That is just tragic, they are hungry to work, anxious to join the job market, skilled, but don’t know how to write the right resume, don’t know how to be—really highlight what they’ve done. And if they were to give Eightfold an opportunity to dive into their CV, and their classes, and the projects that they work on, and Eightfold could build for them a really powerful resume that could be seen and picked up by the jobs that they’re hoping to get.

Kevin: No, I think it’s true, in fact my son just graduated high school yesterday, so it’s relevant to me, but it’s interesting, I was having this conversation the other day and somebody mentioned the book Moneyball, which is—I think as everyone probably knows, it’s about Billy being in the Oakland A’s—

Eightfold: Our famous Oakland A’s.

Kevin: And I think that the approach of scouts and what they look for in individuals was all about the look of a person. And they said, well that’s a baseball person. And of course Billy and his staff set out to basically look for the right kind of statistics and look for the right kind of ball players.

Eightfold: What was that guy in the middle of the country though, Jeff? He’s—Jackson or somebody who actually created the—he was still doing it, yeah, yeah, yeah—

Kevin: No he was—I forgot his name, but I think the same thing applies to recruiting, because effectively scouting is recruiting. And so we all do the same thing and we all have biases about who we think will succeed and going through that process. So I think being able to apply machine learning and AI to understand which individuals really will work out, starts with a clean slate and to some extent removes some of those biases. So I think because of that, it’s—I think it’s a pretty interesting process.

Eightfold: A hundred percent, it hurt my feelings when I read the book and it was like oh he’s got a good face and a pretty girlfriend and that’s what made sure that he was going to get picked up by an organization, tragic. So parting word, last word on your thoughts for AI, are you bullish?

Kevin: I’m very bullish, I think the key is—and I mentioned earlier, my son’s graduating high school, so I think AI is a key area of investment in the M&A world, merger and acquisition world where I live, there’s a big race for talent. And I think companies that have a group of engineers, AI engineers, and machine learning engineers, that’s very valuable. So I think you look at every organization from IBM to Salesforce and others. There’s a race to think about how to leverage AI for different applications. And I think Eightfold is on the leading edge of doing that for recruiting so it’s really exciting.

Eightfold: Very exciting, thank you so much for joining us today for Eightfold Radio, that was Kevin McClelland from JMP Securities. Thank you.

Kevin: Thank you.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to Eightfold Radio. To find out more about Eightfold please visit us at, and be sure to listen to our other episodes chronicling the experiences of Eightfold’s customers and partners.

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