Surviving AI 101: Using artificial intelligence in Human Resource

October 3, 2017
5 mins


“Hey HR!

What’s up?

Still busy sorting the deluge of applications you received?

Guess what? I can help you!

Just tell me the parameters to shortlist and here are the results……….”

How will you feel if we tell you that there’s a chatbot and not some human having a quick chat with you in the above lines? Well, Artificial Intelligence will make this happen sooner than you think. According to Randstad Sourceright research, 76 percent of 400 global human capital leaders who participated in the research survey accepted that technology is playing a critical role in talent engagement. Around 48 percent are already investing in creating dashboards for analytics. Now, managing and understanding talent needs is a major concern for leaders across the globe.

Now, more than ever, Artificial Intelligence technology is changing the way companies source, engage, acquire, and manage talent,”  said Jason Roberts, global head of technology and analytics at Randstad Sourceright.

The not-so-far future of talent acquisition processes will largely incorporate Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics to find the best candidates. Globally, industries are experiencing a shift toward Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, which has prompted organizations to streamline their hiring and management processes by switching to “Total Workforce Solutions.” These include permanent employees, temporary staff, freelancers, etc.

These solutions mostly include AI-enabled chatbots, robots, etc. Prospective or current employees can get in touch with these bots, tell them their grievance, and have solutions with the shortest turnaround time. An assessment like this is faster, cost-efficient, and, most importantly, unbiased.

Why Artifical Intelligence (AI) in HR?

Imagine you have 10 positions to fill and have received 2000 applications for it. How long will it take to go through each manually and then find the best fit? Quite some time and not to forget, you are at a constant risk of losing the right candidate because of long processes. At the same time, humans have biases on the basis of gender, color, religion, ethnicity, etc.

Mr. Bot doesn’t have these issues. He’s efficient and unbiased. He not only goes through the applications in the shortest possible time, but he also gets back to the candidates with feedback quickly. He calls them up to have a quick chat and ask some performance-based questions and based on answers assigns a score to each of the applicant. The scoreboard is then shared with Talent Acquisition Personnel who can take it further.

Mr. Bot is helping organizations think beyond usual recruitment processes. He’s not affected by a candidate’s skin color, race, nationality, or gender. He is the perfect buddy for recruiters who are working on Diversity and Inclusion initiatives for their organizations.

Let’s take an example from the Silicon Valley. Eyal Grayevsky, co-founder of Mya Systems, a San Francisco-based AI organization aims to reduce bias in the processes by decreasing the influence of humans in recruiting. He’s on a mission to give Silicon Valley a more diversified workforce. Along with his team, he is deploying Mya, an intelligent chatbot which interviews and evaluates candidates much like any recruiter. He says that Mya is programmed to judge candidates only on performance-based merit which avoids subconscious judgments that a human mind can make.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here to stay

Not many organizations have welcomed Mr. Bot whole-heartedly, but he’s slowly making his presence felt in the industry and his demand is increasing slowly but surely.

Aman Alexander, Product Management Director at CEB, a consultancy firm, said, “Demand has been growing rapidly.” Aman’s firm is servicing a premium clientele including giants like Walmart, AMD, Thomson Reuters, etc. He adds that the efficiency achieved by automation seems to be the attraction rather than a fairer system as the biggest users are large retailers and not tech companies.

Similarly, Pymetrics, another Artificial Intelligence-based HRtech startup believes in identifying the traits of the top-performing employees and hiring people like them. Pymetrics aims at “making the world a fairer place” by countering bias of traditional recruiting with intelligent technology solutions. Its success and the need for domain-experts can be clearly measured by the fact that the company recently raised $8 million funding, which points to the fact that the thought of HRtech is widely welcomed.

How to use artificial intelligence (AI) for diversity initiatives?

Mr. Bot, if the programmed right can work wonders. The importance of Diversity and Inclusion can be understood by Forbes’ research which used the Cloverpop decision-making database. The findings showed:

  • Inclusive teams can take much better business decisions almost 87% of the time.
  • Teams with an inclusive process take decisions 2X faster with 50% of the meetings.
  • Diverse teams yield 60% better results.

This research highlights the potential value of team diversity as a practical tool for architecting decision-making processes,” said Francesca Gino, a professor at the Harvard Business School.

She further added, “That our decisions get sidetracked by biases is now well established. While it is hard to change how our brains are wired, it’s possible to change the context of decisions by architecting the composition of decision-making teams for more diverse perspectives.”

Mr. Bot when programmed by unbiased experts, like Pymetrics and Mya systems, can do wonders for diversity and inclusion initiatives, but can be vulnerable to the risk of falling into the hands of biased programmers. Similarly, Hackerearth, an Indian Ed-tech startup provides great AI-based solutions for startups and organizations. These solutions are duly customized for organizational requirements. Hackerearth Recruit works stepwise, the first step usually has a Coding Test for screening which creates tasks on the basis of job role and the candidate can access it with just one click. Most importantly, it allows you to find the best talent while sitting in the comfort of your office. The second step involves giving you a candidate’s  real-time report, facilitating easy shortlisting and filtering. A product like this ensures that you find the best talent purely on the basis of merit-basis and there’s no bias involved.

These solutions are fair and help you attract the best talent in the industry.

Be vigilant while handling artificial intelligence

Artificial Intelligence experts are warning that even AI systems aren’t immune to prejudice. There’s a huge amount of risk involved in the training of these systems. In case the programmers training these systems aren’t unbiased, they may transfer the same sentiment to the system. Then, Artificial Intelligence, I may advocate – discriminating, instead of eliminating it, can be nightmarish. The problem even scales-up when these systems are deployed for mass recruiting. The entire candidate pool can get affected by it. For example, if the systems in a company like Nike, which hires 80,000 people a year, run with a programming that is biased, then the entire recruitment process gets skewed.

How can you program Mr. Bot to avoid goof-ups?

If you look closely, then ensuring that Mr. Bot makes unbiased decisions is entirely dependent on the right kind of programming. Still, to make the initial steps easier you can add gamification like KPMG did. The global accounting firm deployed a “robot recruiter;” it is a completely automated system meant for initial screening of applicants. Candidates were asked to take a few randomly structured tests. These tests could range from simple computer shooter-style games with balloons that pop up with mathematics questions on the screen. The process was aimed to test cognitive ability, speed, reaction time, and decision-making. The organization went a step further and even designed a special application process for hearing and speech-impaired candidates to ensure that the system remains fair and just. At the same time, KPMG with its video-based assessment trained its staff to remove unconscious bias.

Summing up, we would say that Mr. Bot can be our best buddy if we treat him well and nurture him the right way. Mr. Bot will be there for all kinds of assistance and help us in decision-making. However, you will always need human intervention when you search for a CEO or look to console an employee suffering from a personal loss. Welcome Mr. Bot and let him help you shift focus to where it is needed more.

As Larry Page says, “Artificial intelligence would be the ultimate version of Google. The ultimate search engine that would understand everything on the web. It would understand exactly what you wanted, and it would give you the right thing. We’re nowhere near doing that now. However, we can get incrementally closer to that, and that is basically what we work on.”

We have certainly made great strides in the field of artificial intelligence, but there is still much to be done.

PS: For more such insights on tech recruitment, we invite you to join our LinkedIn group“Yours Truly HR”



About the Author

Arpit Mishra
Avid book reading advocate. Hardcore travel nerd. Technology freak. Follow me on LinkedIn to get more Insights on Tech Recruitment.

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