Tech Insight : How Fair And Effective Are AI Recruitment Platforms?

7th February 2024

With more companies using AI to screen CVs and candidates’ body language during interviews, we look at what this could mean for today’s job applicants.

Widely Used 

IBM research from November last year shows that 4 out of 10 companies now use AI to improve recruiting and human resources. Also, in June last year, IBM highlighted how, with 10 million job openings in the spring of 2023, but only 5.7 million unemployed workers in the U.S., workers would have the advantages in negotiating for higher pay, and better benefits and conditions. It argued that using AI, companies are “reevaluating their recruitment processes”, e.g. to identify inefficiencies and opportunities where AI and automation could make the processes more attractive both for candidates and employees.

What Is AI Used For In Recruitment? 

AI-based systems/platforms, such as HireVue, MyInterview, Retorio, Entelo, Pymetrics, Talview,  and LinkedIn Talent Solution can be used in recruitment, among other things, to:

– Scan CVs and give scores to candidates based AI’s assessment of who is the best match, thereby speeding up and simplifying the initial screening.

– Analysing candidates’ body language, speech, and facial expressions during video interviews to provide insights into the candidate’s personality and suitability for the role.

– Using assessments and games to evaluate candidates’ cognitive abilities, emotional intelligence, and other traits.

– Using predictive analytics to help recruiters understand when candidates are more likely to be open to new opportunities.

– Helping recruiters write job listings that are inclusive and appealing to a diverse range of candidates (Textio).

– Some hiring tools can also assess, based on things like pay and work history, if a candidate or employee is more at risk of resigning.

What Benefits Do These Platforms Provide To Organisations? 

HireVue says that its platform makes hiring faster and fairer, offers security and integrates with an organisation’s applicant tracking system (ATS0) to create a seamless hiring ecosystem. HireVue says that it also offers mobile-friendly, text-powered solutions giving flexibility to both sides of the hiring process.

Other general benefits that AI recruitment platforms offer include:

– Improved efficiency by automating routine tasks, freeing recruiters to focus on strategic interactions.

– Reducing unconscious biases by focusing on relevant criteria, promoting diversity and inclusion.

– Providing valuable insights and analytics to make data-driven decisions about candidates, thereby enabling more strategic talent acquisition.

– Enhancing the candidate experience and ensuring timely communication and engagement, improving the overall candidate journey (according to the platform providers and businesses using them).

– Enabling scalability by efficiently managing a high volume of applications.

– Helping with recruitment planning, e.g. by giving foresight into future hiring needs and workforce trends.

– Reducing recruitment costs by decreasing time-to-hire and automating the screening process.

Do They Work? 

One crucial question for businesses thinking of using the platform is likely to be ‘do they work?’ i.e., how successful are these AI platforms at choosing the right applicant and delivering the right benefits to businesses using them? Some research that could provide an answer include:

– A report (Alight – 2017), showing that companies using AI for recruitment saw a 75 per cent reduction in time-to-hire and a 35 per cent decrease in cost-per-hire.

– A Harvard Business Review (Kuncel, Ones, Klieger) suggesting that AI-driven recruitment tools can increase the quality of hires by up to 50 per cent.

– Deloitte research (2023) showing that organisations using AI-based recruitment tools reported a 20 per cent increase in the diversity of hires.

– A US National Bureau of Economic Research study claiming that companies using AI in their recruitment process can save up to 30 per cent.

What About Applicants? 

Applicants, however, may be less trusting and appreciative of AI-based recruiting and it could feel a little dystopian or uncomfortable to think that your future could be decided in an instant by an algorithm. One well publicised (Sky News) example of a negative experience is that of former MAC make-up artist Anthea Mairoudhiou who took legal action against MAC’s parent company, Estee Lauder, claiming that she’d lost her job due to a low body language score in a HireVue interview.

Other Issues 

In addition to the fact that applicants risk feeling unfairly judged, other key issues that should be considered by companies using the platforms include:

– Bias and fairness, i.e. the risk of AI perpetuating existing biases. How AI has been trained, for example, has led to bias in some models. There are therefore concerns about diversity and equitable treatment where AI is used to judge applicants.

– Transparency and explainability, e.g. a lack of clarity on AI decision-making processes. Companies should ideally provide feedback to rejected candidates.

– Privacy and data security, e.g. legitimate concerns over the usage and storage of personal data. Companies should look carefully at the security and privacy aspects of the AI recruiting platform they use and understand the need for explicit consent and ethical data usage.

– Compliance with legal standards including adherence to anti-discrimination laws and employment regulations. This means that mechanisms to audit AI decisions should be available.

– Candidate experience and human touch. From an applicant’s point of view, it’s helpful to not feel as though there’s an over-reliance on AI in the recruitment process and insofar as feeling as though a company has maintained a personal touch can make a big difference.

It’s also worth noting that companies may need to consider how they will ensure accessibility for all candidates, including those with disabilities, when using AI recruitment platforms.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

The adoption of AI recruitment platforms like IBM’s is reported to be reshaping the hiring landscape (perhaps for larger businesses), offering businesses a dual advantage: enhanced efficiency and a more strategic talent acquisition approach. These platforms, by automating routine tasks, can free up recruiters to focus on more nuanced aspects of hiring, promising not only a quicker but a more qualitative recruitment process.

However, using this technology doesn’t come without its challenges. For job seekers, the impersonal nature of AI assessments, as highlighted by Anthea Mairoudhiou’s experience, can be off-putting, underlining the need for a balance between automated efficiency and human touch. Businesses, while enjoying the benefits of AI, must also navigate through issues of bias, transparency, and data privacy, ensuring their recruitment practices are not only efficient but also fair and compliant with legal standards.

In essence, while AI recruitment platforms offer significant benefits around optimising recruitment processes and broadening talent pools, it’s crucial for businesses to integrate these tools with a keen awareness of their potential pitfalls. This means not just leveraging AI for operational efficiency but also addressing the nuanced expectations of job applicants and rigorously adhering to ethical, legal, and privacy standards. The goal is a recruitment process that is not just technologically advanced but also inclusive, fair, and respectful of candidate experiences.