Future of recruiting: using artificial intelligence (AI) to select the ideal employee

by Florentina Herr


Technology innovation shapes the lifestyle of human beings in the modern world. It enables us to communicate faster and more efficiently. The same is especially true for communication in the workplace and thus technology plays an essential role in the process of finding potential candidates and the ideal employee for a new position. Each year big corporations such as Unilever spend a huge amount of time and money on this process, which has seen no brilliant improvement since decades: prepare a Curriculum Vitae, a cover letter, send as a attachment in an email and wait for a response. The new way to deal with this issue is the usage of AI to select the Ideal Employee. What are the next steps? Will face-to-face job interviews be completely eliminated by AI one day?

State of Affairs

As Statista presents in a statistic asking 297 heads of HR in Germany, if they use a applicant-management software, around 60% answered with yes. The second question asking these heads of HR who answered with “yes“, for which purposes they use these softwares, more insights were given. Almost everyone of them (99%) use applicant-management softwares for administration of applicants data and documentation. 83% of heads of HR in Germany use it to automatically answer applications. Only half of the respondents answered that they use it to establish talent pools. 36% said to use it to trigger onboarding processes. Almost similar in percentage, respondents answered to usage for definition of fitting job profiles and 24% of respondents also use it for a first applicant check on the basis of keywords.

Currently, digital service providers such as Pymetrics, HireVue or new start-ups like Talentcube are revolutionizing the management of HR. In Germany, a new start-up named Talentcube offers an APP for applicants to apply with a videoclip in which they have to answer three questions that are provided by the firms in advance. Companies such as IBM and Allianz are already using it and reducing its costs with this idea. This signals the first step in transforming the traditional HRM into a digital or virtual HRM.

The next step, as Business Insider reveals: Pymetrics provides neuroscience-based games to access each candidate. It tests the ability to focus, memory, risk averseness as well as the ability to real emotional and contextual cues. The results are then evaluated by AI and provided for the HR manager. For him an enormous pool of every candidate is reduced to a small pool of people with “higher potential“ for the position.

Another high-tech company is HireVue, professionally for video interviewing. As the homepage of HireVue claims, they are able to accomplish higher quality hires, access and interview in one step and thus offer more efficient hiring. Known brands that use HireVue are e.g. Vodafone, Nike, Intel, Tiffany & Co., Honeywell, Qantas, Carnival Cruise Line, and 40% of Fortune’s Most Admired.

Main Issues

Accessing people with AI seems to be first of all cost reducing from the view of the companies, as it helps the HR manager to avoid reading applications without a chance or to interview people where there interviewer knew in the first few minutes that this candidate will surely not be offered a job, but out of politeness cannot rudely let them leave the room immediately. Also, it may help to find more job-fitting applicants, as the chance to get a better candidate increases, when more people can be access in a shorter amount of time. Another argument sure is that biases of the interviewer are reduced, as there is basically no personal contact in the process.

Still, there are issues that need to be discussed. What Pymetrics is measuring with the neuroscience-based games may refer to logical thinking, risk awareness etc. But according to an article about 10 facts about jobs in the future, Lee Rainie presents that the nature of jobs is changing as the knowledge of the economy rises. Occupations requiring higher levels of social skills may affect 83% of employment, which outnumbers the percentage of analytical or physical skills. So in order to evaluate applicants of the future correctly, AI should be capable of understanding and evaluating social skills. This is a challenge for AI. Plus, to measure social skills under real-life circumstances, AI may need to observe applicants in a group. So the advantage to use AI to minimize effort may vanish.

And even though workers express more positive than negative views on overall impact of technology on their careers, people express more worries than optimism about future automation in this conducted research. The strongest expressed anxiety, covering 72% of respondents, is that there will be a future where robots and computers can do many human jobs. Directly after that comes the worry of 67% of respondents that there will be development of algorithms that can evaluate and hire job candidates. Only 22% of respondents are enthusiastic about this, less that expressed enthusiasm about robots and computers doing human jobs. This may demonstrates the negative feeling people have with being interviewed and hired by AI.

Also, the interview may be missing a “personal touch“. The first day of a new job, you come to the office and know nobody. You may feel like a machine, that has been chosen by a “thing”. But in this case, at least, you have been given this job.

But imagine you just found an advertisement of your dream job. It requires you to log-in to a company-internal website where you are asked to type it all your personal information but also to take realtime videos of yourself, with perhaps one chance to record. These are evaluated by AI and it is the AI that decides if you may be offered a position or are out of the game. Two days later, you get the result: „Sorry, unfortunately we cannot offer you the position.“. How do you feel? Do you perceive the evaluation process as fair? Can you accept the result or would you rather have wanted a real person to evaluate you by a face-to-face interview? Those issues concern the perception of fairness and the ability to accept decisions that are made by non-humans. Is our society so far, that we feel like we are on eye level with machines that sort humans into categories? Many more issues can be discussed: how can you tell that neuroscience-based games really reflect my future behavior in the company, my ability to work in groups or my overall performance as a future leader?