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Send in the Robots: The Good and Bad of Automating Your Hiring Process

Futurist and tech billionaire, Elon Musk, believes we may not be far from a time where robots and various forms of artificial intelligence (AI) will perform most jobs. He cautions that a day will come when there will be few jobs a robot will not do better than a human being.

But this reality is still years away.

In the meantime, we need people to fill an increasing number of jobs—today. And we can use AI to our advantage to automate the more tedious tasks of HR, speed up the recruiting process, save companies money and enable them to be more competitive in the race to attract top talent.

Sound incredible? It’s not. It’s very real. Of course, like any technology, AI also has some downsides. Let’s take a look at the positives and the negatives of AI in three areas of recruiting that are most likely to face digital disruption this year.

AI Takes Over the Tedium of Resume Screening

What if you could take one of the most difficult, time-consuming aspects of HR and automate the process to do it faster and more effectively than any human being could accomplish? More than half (52 percent) of recruiting managers say finding potential applicants in giant talent pools is the most challenging part of their job.

Finding a single qualified candidate from predictive screening, which shares the traits of successful hires with just a glimpse at a resume, can take up to 23 hours of a recruiter’s time.

“Candidate screening is a process better handled by algorithms that can effortlessly, accurately, respectfully, and predictively screen thousands or millions of candidates per day (or hour) for business success,” states Greta Roberts, writing for SalesForce.com. These powerful algorithms accomplishes this feat by filtering for keywords and other factors that match those of successful past hires.

Some job seekers fear that AI software won’t view candidates as individuals or will misunderstand aspects of their resume. But when a recruiter makes a decision after a 6-second glimpse at that same resume, he or she isn’t necessarily taking time to think about the person behind the buzzwords either.

AI programs don’t get tired and overlook important indicators that someone may be the right person for the job. In fact, the more resumes AI reviews, the better it gets at finding top candidates. The numbers are in and the case for AI is compelling. According to recruiting software firm Ideal, companies that have adopted AI for recruiting software who use it have seen a:

  • Performance increase of 20 percent
  • Revenue per employee grow by 4 percent
  • Employee turnover drop by 35 percent

Chatbots Keep Prospects Looped In

AI-powered chatbots are already being used in the food service industry to assist customers with placing orders, and in retail to answer questions and manage some customer complaints. It’s easy to make the leap to chatbots that can schedule interviews and answer job candidates’ frequently asked questions. From an HR director’s perspective, it’s all about being able to deliver the information candidates need, when they need it, in their preferred format.

Certainly, no one reaches out via chat interface with the thought, “I really hope I get to speak to a robot today!” But it definitely beats being ghosted by an HR director after you thought that first interview went so well.

And recruiters who spend less time sending follow-up emails can now focus on the high-touch areas of their job, such as connecting with candidates after they’ve passed the initial screening process, slam-dunked the first and second interviews, and now require some personalized attention to convince them to sign on.

Streamline Onboarding with AI

It’s important to make new employees feel at home with a personalized tour, but so many aspects of onboarding simply don’t need the expertise of an HR director. Enter Jinie, an HR chatbot that can help walk new hires through those first confusing days on the job, share information about programs and policies, and answer common questions.

However, to gain widespread adoption, these bots need to be:

  • In a familiar format—perhaps integrated into existing communications platforms like Slack
  • Secure enough to transmit sensitive HR data
  • Seamless, so the experience feels more like speaking to a human being than a bot

Will AI Replace HR?

Clearly, AI can streamline and simplify many aspects of HR. But HR directors and recruiters won’t be replaced anytime soon.

AI can handle screening applicants, initial outreach, schedule interviews, and even manage aspects of the onboarding process. For example, Wendy, an AI chatbot developed by tech startup WadeandWendy, can complete the first interview on behalf of the HR team.

By automating these tasks, HR professionals are freed up to step in when their strategic expertise is required, and to oversee the entire process for quality control. After all, AI is only as good as the data we feed it. Biases can (and do) creep in—all based on what we, the human users, may inadvertently teach the AI algorithms over time.

As an HR professional, you take extra care to ensure you evaluate all candidates on equal footing, in the same way, you will have to oversee the use of AI to help provide unbiased decisions—and to make the final calls on hiring and promotions.

If you could save time and money by implementing tools to help you do your job more efficiently, wouldn’t you? For HR departments, those tools exist and improving every day. When it comes to streamlining your HR processes, it may just be time to send in the robots.
Photo Credit: J.B.F Flickr via Compfight cc

Meghan M. Biro

Meghan M. Biro is a globally recognized Talent Management and HR Tech brand strategist, analyst, digital catalyst, author and speaker. As founder and CEO of TalentCulture and Founder of #WorkTrends, she has worked with hundreds of companies, from early-stage ventures to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google, helping them recruit and empower stellar talent. Meghan has been a guest on numerous radio shows and online forums, and has been a featured speaker at global conferences. She is a regular contributor at Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and several other media outlets. Meghan regularly serves on advisory boards for leading HR and technology brands. Meghan has been voted one of the Top 100 Social Media Power Influencers in 2015 by StatSocial and Forbes, Top 50 Most Valuable Social Media Influencers by General Sentiment, Top 100 on Twitter Business, Leadership, and Tech by Huffington Post, and Top 25 HR Trendsetters by HR Examiner.