Alice Elliott
May 23, 2023

Could AI Be Better Than Humans At Recruitment?

AI Recruitment

Just to let you know from the outset, recruitment is not my usual subject. However, my interest in AI certainly is very real!

I can see how a very large corporate identity, which regularly recruits a lot of new candidates every year, would be drawn to using AI. The process is time-consuming, costly, and frustrating. An automated system that can tackle this task skillfully and reliably will prove to be a big draw.

This post explores the pros and cons of using AI over humans for recruitment. I would not like to give the impression that the world should totally move over to using AI without considering a few facts first.

You may also want to read: 4 Ways Artificial Intelligence Will Impact The B2B Industry

Search and Match

There are so many profiles on social media, job CV listing sites, and other locations for people to enter their resumés for recruitment purposes. To spend time searching through a high volume of possible recruits would take a huge amount of time, which is definitely something AI could accomplish quickly and efficiently.

The search requirements could also vary, according to whichever rank, grade, qualifications, skills, or experience would match the elements of the job or jobs in question. It is relatively easy to program these conditions into the online search features and let the process roll.

However, matching these results using recruitment screening software to find suitable applicants for the posts could have some drawbacks. AI would work best with resumés that cleverly and appropriately use search engine optimisation – those which apply the required keywords or phrases which trigger a response from the algorithms.

But should any of these profiles use a similar word or term which hasn’t been programmed into the software, and therefore is considered unrecognisable, the opportunity is missed for both parties. AI cannot be user-friendly for people with individualism, who think outside of the box, and may use a variety of names or skills that are not matched by AI.

On the other hand, a human could look up anything unusual, or have the intellectual process to work out what the person actually meant. Anyone who doesn’t toe the line with the same phrases and terminology as everybody else may be that bright spark that could make all the difference to the company moving forward.

Interviewing Process

There are various methods of interviewing candidates online, such as via questionnaires, screening tests, cognitive ability tests, and even video interviewing for the final stages. AI can easily sift through the results of the questionnaires and tests to decide who are the top-performing candidates. But this does rely on whether these people are adept at this interviewing process and are able to perform well under this kind of pressure.

Certainly, corporate businesses are keen to avoid any sort of bias, prejudice, or personal judgment which could arise from human interviewing. AI works well with patterns, so could match up particular word choices and phrases within the recruitment process, and can be programmed to recognise speech patterns, facial expressions, and even body language. But sometimes AI observes repetitive human behaviour as normal, which may be detrimental to the recruiting process and produce a false result.

However, the human touch and presence within the interviewing process could make all the difference when drawing out the candidate. Addressing a robot can be very off-putting; how can you relate to a machine? AI cannot evaluate critical thinking and decision-making skills or even identify and cope with soft communicative skills, like empathy, emotions, and sympathetic connections.

Not everybody interviews well through video. Many may require drawing out of themselves because of nerves; being allowed to relax and given a second chance could enable their potential to shine through. How can a bot analyze which personality could match the company’s ethos and culture, combined with technical brilliance?

And then there is the gut instinct about someone, which is what only human intuition can have. AI cannot be programmed for this. The little something which triggers a reaction, an idea, or a response, is barely noticeable, which could make all the difference to a good or bad choice. All this could be lost if companies rely on AI alone to make the final decision.

You may also want to read: Why You Shouldn’t Consider Using ChatGPT To Write Blog Posts

Communication and Follow-Up

Sometimes the process of recruitment can take a bit of time. Certainly, it isn’t immediate, as everybody expects things to be in the 21st century. Therefore it is necessary to keep up some sort of engagement with the potential recruits, from first contact through being interviewed to the final selection.

For AI, this takes the form of chatbots, which can be programmed with the likely Frequently Asked Questions candidates will normally ask. Hopefully, this will also include a process to refer more difficult queries to humans, as I have always found out, chatbots never have the correct answer or understand what you are trying to ask of them.

Diligent and empathetic companies do seem to understand the waiting process can be irksome, worrying, and full of anxiety. It is important to maintain some sort of contact, even just to provide feedback and reassurance that things are in hand. This may come a bit short of building relationships between candidate and employer, but consistent communication allows the process to keep up to date with developments.

The beauty of AI is that it never sleeps. It is always on hand to provide some sort of reply to any apprehensive candidate wishing to know how things are progressing. But it is necessary to have humans behind anything automated; not just to provide a relevant answer, but one which shows empathy and understanding of the situation. There is nothing worse than going round in circles with an algorithm that hasn’t been programmed for a particular scenario.

Other Things Which Could Go Wrong

Some businesses may think that using AI will minimise human errors, due to their ability to do repetitive and monotonous activities effortlessly. Yes, this is true, and they can work 24/7 as well. AI has the ability to analyse huge amounts of data, do thousands of background checks, and cross-reference endless CVs against recruitment criteria.

But there is always a downside. AI could be infiltrated by technical issues, bugs in the system, and even subject to cyber-attacks. Think of it as similar to humans having breaks, getting sick, needing a holiday, or even requesting a pay rise! Broken AI needs to be repaired or programmed by engineers who could be biased, have gender preferences, or allegiances to certain universities. This infiltration could be unintentional, invisible, or even unavoidable.

And then there is what AI thinks is important compared to humans. My husband asked Google Lens to analyse a picture he took on his phone. The result was ‘buttercups’. This is because these flowers dominated the foreground. But what we, as humans, wanted to know was the location of the bridge and church in the background. Our brains disregarded the buttercups because we already knew what they were. But AI focuses on what it considers to be the principle point of interest, which could be completely wrong and inappropriate.

Thankfully our human brains haven’t been undermined to behave like AI. This is why we should continue to use them and not rely on robots and algorithms for everything. These may save time, money, and convenience, but at the end of the day, the final decision must be ours – especially when people’s livelihoods are at stake.

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Alice Elliott (aka Fairy Blog Mother) is an award winning blogger who has been "explaining things really simply" about blogging since 2006. She is also founder of The Commenting Club created to educate the benefits of commenting, engagement and interaction to individuals and businesses.