The Future of Hiring with Artificial Intelligence

In this article, you will read about:

·      How AI is changing the hiring process.

·      What some of the challenges are.

·      How startups are making quick strides.

·      What will it take for CHROs to make the final decision.

·      Will AI replace jobs?

·      Key trends in hiring that are likely to emerge as we sail ahead.

In a few years from now, recruiting and hiring will look very different from how they do today. AI has been rapidly shaping every industry, including HR and Talent Acquisition and the tectonic shifts will be visible soon. 

You might have already observed the following shifts in the hiring process:

  • Sharpening of the job posting process with better, more thoughtful and keyword-enabled JDs written by bots (example: Textio)

  • Sorting/ matching and pre-screening of relevant resumes with the help of technology (example:

  • Increase in video interviews that read potential candidate behaviour (example: Talview)

  • Technology-led assessments; for hard and soft skills, psychometric tests (example: IBM Watson Talent)

However, experts believe that AI is barely scratching the surface. There are three types of analytics and AI: descriptive, predictive and prescriptive. Descriptive technology provides  information about what’s happening, predictive shows an image of the future, and prescriptive technology tells us what should be done based on these findings. We are currently in the descriptive phase with a pinch of the prescriptive flair. Though, the holy grail of AI in hiring is the predictive phase when it is able to seek and convert a highly talented ‘passive-candidate' into an employee for the recruiter.

Thought Leaders like Rajeev Menon, Consultant with Talview, an AI powered recruitment platform and with 20 years’ experience in Talent Acquisition and Evaluation hold the view that hiring must become ‘insta’ and here is how AI can make that happen. 

Imagine this: A potential job opening comes up in an organisation. AI parses through the internet and seeks potential ‘ideal’ candidate/s. The recruiter does not approach the candidate directly, however, AI sends them interesting content about the job opening and the company (like with digital marketing). Once the prospective has clicked on the content/ call to action, then the human gets in touch with the prospective and takes the conversation forward (mostly through an interview). In this case, AI has already suggested the kind of offer that would interest shortlisted candidates and how the interviewer should negotiate. This is called insta-hiring*

Why should the process of recruitment take months when with the use of AI a job offer can be rolled out in 24-48 hours?

* Experts also believe that even at its predictive best, AI may not be able to hire a CEO  for example, as that requires discretion and human intellect to be involved.

What will it take for AI to get ‘Predictive’?

Data and more data (of course, topped with elegant machine learning and AI). However, data is ever evolving and has to be constantly updated. In its raw form this data can be generated from resumes and social profiles, however, the problem is that data is not standardised and can open a can of biases*. Professor Nimmi Rangaswamy from IIIT Hyderabad, brings an anthropological lens in understanding the impact of AI says, “AI is entering a domain that is already fraught with allegations of existing bias. One (optimistic) way to look at it is, AI will remove the human bias involved in hiring.”

Hence, multiple advanced tools like Textio exist that standardise the JD and also eliminate bias as much as possible. But, that cannot happen overnight. Professor Rangaswamy points out the ambiguity of how AI will measure or define ‘merit’, ‘hierarchy’, ‘educational qualifications’ ‘pedigree’ or ‘soft skills’ and this is just the beginning.  It has to be further fine tuned to industries, teams and a particular role; especially when 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t yet been invented.

Professor Ramesh Loganathan, a software professional turned academician at IIIT, Hyderabad believes that for AI to be fully evolved, it has to be able to assess soft skills too. He says, “We do not hire for passion or culture fit and if AI can help us do that, I will be a big fan of that product. Skills are transient and unfortunately today, we only hire for skills.” 

Some examples of how bias is eliminated:

  1. Masking candidate photos and gender

  2. Masking location

  3. Masking recruiter feedback

  4. Masking University/ college attended (in some cases)

  5. Highlighting skills and certain keywords based on the job description

* A separate article can be written on AI and Bias. In this article, I focus on it’s overall role in the hiring process and have not deep-dived into bias as a subject. 

Many have made a start.

“Our clients are predominantly in the BFSI and IT/ITeS space and so far our product, the Edge Graph has parsed through 10 percent of the existing data (there are about 34 million profiles and 10 million JDs in IT/ ITeS and BFSI alone),” says Aparna Devi Moola, part of the Leadership Team at Bangalore-based Edge Networks, an eight-year-old  AI based startup in the Talent Management space. She states that while AI is currently far from perfect, we do not have an ‘either-or’ choice anymore. The HR function cannot be restricted to being a ‘people-function’ only and has to evolve into a data-driven function that keeps people at heart.

According to Fortune Business Insights, the talent management software market size is projected to reach USD 11.09 billion by 2026. Digitization helps improve recruitment quality at scale with economies of cost and time and is inevitable.

TurboHire, a three year old AI-based hiring platform based out of Hyderabad has parsed about a  million resumes. Aman Gour, Co-founder, Head of Product & Partnerships believes that we are currently in a phase of ‘augmented intelligence’ where the tech product is like Google Maps and the recruiter is in the driving seat. It gives you the data desired, however, the choice on how you use it is yours. He phrases it this way, “AI cannot replace humans, but can be a recruiter’s best friend.”

How AI is Benefiting the Hiring Process

Source:  TurboHire’s AI in Recruitment handbook

What Enterprises want?

According to Gour, the biggest hidden cost of recruitment is the hiring manager’s time which can roughly be measured at $100 per hour. Today, a hiring manager spends at least $2500 to source-interview-hire the right candidate. Can technology optimise this metric? 

Many large organisations are either sitting with legacy systems or just beginning to test waters with a few tools. It takes an extremely forward thinking CHRO to see the bigger picture and start exploring the benefits of technology. 

Senior Talent Acquisition experts shared the following barriers to adoption:

  1. TA being a cost function, has to fight hard to get funds for deployment.

  2. It has been challenging for TA leaders to build a strong business case, possibly due to lack of clear understanding of the tech potential, and to further convince financiers and other stakeholders.

  3. Potential job loss/ training teams on tech adoption. 

Vikas Dua, an HR Tech Evangelist who has worked extensively in the ITeS space with companies like Wipro and Concentrix said, “I would prefer a seamless platform with a uniform look and feel that can automate the entire recruitment process. It starts with identifying the candidate, assessments, managing the interview process (where the human intervenes), offers negotiation options and then also goes out to roll out the offer.” 

Currently, this is a disjointed process with multiple tools available and that is where many CHROs hesitate, as integrating existing (manual) processes with technology is considered cumbersome. Though, the shift towards adopting tech-enabled practices has already taken place and several industries like FMCG, Banking and Finance, Manufacturing and IT/ITeS have started adopting AI tools in their hiring processes. 

Will AI replace humans?

Everyone I spoke to for this story unanimously agreed that this process could definitely affect jobs, especially at the lower rung where there are dedicated practitioners sourcing resumes or doing mundane tasks. But, they were also quick to add that this talent can be upskilled and utilised in other parts of the talent team (like candidate experience which is a new and evolving field) or given other opportunities within the organisation. The future recruitment team will look something like this - CHRO, HR Business Partner, Data Analysts and Scientists, Marketers & Content Writers

Belong’s Vice President ‘Product and Business’, Arpit Garg believes that recruitment is a highly human task and AI can never replace it, however, only enhance it with data. The process can get very personalised as Belong has also built candidate personas so the interviewer can search for specific kinds of people they want to hire and also know the candidate personally even before the interview process. Belong has been able to automate all mundane tasks of the hiring team so that they can focus better on candidate experience.

Upcoming trends that will further define this space:

  1. Technology backed personalised job marketing (ensuring that an organisation can attract passive candidates as well). This means that organisations have to work hard on employer branding and marketing.

  2. Rise in gig working and specialisation and hence the need for a tighter job fit as there is no leeway to spend time on training. 

  3. JDs will also change as they will focus on the immediate job at hand rather than potential jobs. A lot is changing and companies will hire only for a particular role with a laser sharp focus. 

  4. Deep Job platforms. Job platforms have gone from light to layered; from simply matching potential candidates with open roles to adding additional value to the employers, the job seekers, or in some cases, both. Can there be a Netflix-like deep job platform that can help employers shortlist their ‘ideal’ candidate and employees land their ‘dream’ jobs with a matching algorithm? 

To conclude, “in hiring, you have to understand that there are people on the other side. You cannot treat people as a resume and hiring as a robotic process. Including AI or any technology to hiring will be an art and science,” says Nikunj Verma, Cofounder and CEO, an AI based hiring platform. 

I tend to agree with him. 


P.S: An abridged version of this post has appeared on - Zoom Out | Here's a peek at the future of hiring with artificial intelligence