The five-minute read on… using AI in recruitment, including 4 innovative apps to know about right now

Grainne Shaughnessy
Last updated on 18th November 2019
5 min read

When it comes to AI in recruitment, we’re beginning to see some pretty cools apps. Grainne Shaughnessy explains everything you need to know – and four apps to make sure you have on your radar.

At the start of the year, we picked the brains of a multitude of global HR professionals, thought-leaders and People consultants.

We asked them: ‘What do you think will be the key HR technology trends in 2018?’

Artificial Intelligence (AI) was one all our experts agreed has huge potential to accelerate and assist human effort in the HR and People sector.

Gautam Ghosh, consultant of talent advisory services, at VBeyond Corporation, explained that progressive HR leaders will lead this trend to truly create a personalised employee experience.

‘In 2018 I think AI enabled chatbots will be mainstream and will function as virtual employee assistants prompting employees to take vacations, keeping track of appointments, skill development and feedback’, he said.

David D’Souza, head of engagement and London at CIPD, agreed. He thought the use of chatbots would really take off, explaining: ‘They have the potential to make real differences to the efficiency of HR teams whilst also improving speed – and potentially accuracy – of response for employees’.

Although it’s still very early days, what’s exciting to see is that the single biggest area where AI is already being applied within the context of HR is in recruiting.

We’re seeing companies use AI for intelligent screening and using AI to work through resumes and help match applicants more accurately to available positions.

We’re also seeing chatbots and digital assistants being used to schedule interviews and liaise with a candidate in the run-up to the interview.

Avoiding bias

It isn’t straightforward, however.

The nature of the ‘human’ element in HR means the sector is all about people – and people aren’t predictable.

It’s not easy, or accurate to imitate human behavior based on computer science.

Take the issue of unconscious bias in recruiting, particularly in the interviewing process. It’s one of the key issues we face around diversity and inclusion within organizations at the moment.

It can unfortunately be an ingrained human trait so many believe the only way to stop unconscious bias is through a non-human solution. However, how do you avoid machines learning bias?

Ultimately AI in recruitment is about machines learning to replicate the way we, as humans, discover, hire, and develop talent, so before you know it, they will be simulating bias if it truly is an ingrained human trait.

According to some experts, AI can reduce unconscious bias in two ways.

Firstly, AI makes sourcing and screening decisions based on data points. Secondly, AI can be programmed to ignore demographic information about candidates.

There are a range of applications already on the market that are looking to minimize unconscious bias, but there are two that have caught our attention – Textio and HireVue.

They’re two of a range of apps we think it’s worth paying close attention to in the AI recruitment space.

Automating the bias out of recruiting: Textio and HireVue

Textio is a tool that helps identify language which might be swayed toward a particular gender.

Companies have found that by using the tool when creating job advertisements, they’ve evened up the gender playing field of applicants.

Software company Atlassian saw a boost in the number of female engineering, product management and design new-hire graduates after using Textio’s augmented writing service to overhaul the language in its job postings. It claims the number of technical graduates jumped from 10% to 57% in two years.

HireVue is another tool seeking to automate the bias out of recruiting.

This video intelligence platform combines video interviews with predictive, validated I-O science (industrial-organizational psychology) and AI to give companies more insight into a candidate’s skills and capabilities.

As a result, they can make better decisions based on data.

Unilever wanted to make sure that it truly selected the best candidates and take any unconscious bias out the process, so it implemented HireVue.

The testimonial it’s given HireVue indicates that although the company needed a digital recruitment process, it still wanted one that felt very human and not robotic, and that’s what it got.

It says HireVue was ‘better and more efficient at selecting candidates than an in-person interview’.

Uncovering hidden talent: Knack

Moving away from unconscious bias, Knack is a talent platform used by schools and companies to help unlock hidden potential through the use of games.

‘Knackalytics’ combines the use of games, the rigor of science, and the insight of machine-intelligent data analytics to reach new talent pools, attract and engage future employees and ultimately recruit and hire the best talent. 

Supercharging your recruitment team: Mya

Another great example of AI in recruitment is Mya.

This software helps in the recruiting process by directly engaging with candidates via text, and candidates can also ask Mya questions.

When she doesn’t know the answer, she will query the recruiter.

Within minutes, Mya rules out candidates based on a pre-programed assessment model or moves them along to the next part of the interview process.

The experience is so seamless that 73% of surveyed candidates who had interacted with Mya reported they had interacted with a recruiter when they in fact had spoken only with the bot.

Appropriate use of AI in HR: it’s not augmented – not artificial – intelligence

It’s fantastic that AI has become a widely discussed tech trend in our sector this year, but really, when people talk about artificial intelligence, they mean augmented intelligence.

The former is the replacement of humans with computer systems; the latter is using technology designed to assist humans, not replace them.

Augmented intelligence is where machine learning is being used to help people be more effective in what they’re doing.

It enables teams to use machines to take out some of the drudgery of work, or improving the accuracy of what’s done.

In almost every example we’re seeing in recruitment, it’s really augmented intelligence that is being applied.

By automating steps such as sourcing, screening and scheduling, there’s no doubt it can help save HR teams’ time.

Ultimately, this gives HR and People teams valuable time back to focus on providing positive candidate and employee experiences.

Looking ahead

Although the area of AI in recruitment is moving fast, there’s no single platform that’s emerged yet as the uber-platform that can do everything.

And not every AI app will be right for every kind of business.

The best advice is to experiment and see what works for your organization.

As we see more AI technology develop and become a part of our daily lives there will clearly be more uses for it within HR aside from just recruiting.

However, as HR continues to evolve into a People function, we cannot rely on computer science for the human touch.

Keeping the human touch

It goes without saying that we can’t take the ‘human’ out of human resources.

The role of AI is to help humans make better and quicker decisions in line with the business strategy – not to replace them entirely.

Engaging employees through great workforce experiences is paramount to unleashing potential and attracting and retaining the best talent.

Ultimately, augmented intelligence can be used to enhance existing automation processes, giving HR and people teams time to focus on the more important job of attracting and engaging the best people.

As a result, teams can keep and grow their most valuable asset for business success: their people.

How are HR and People leaders using technology to get ahead? Download our research from over 500 HR leaders on the challenges they’re facing – and how they’re overcoming them. 


About Grainne Shaughnessy 

Grainne Shaughnessy is part of the global product marketing team at Sage where she researches, writes and develops resources for the HR and People space.

With several years’ experience in the SaaS world, she loves learning and sharing knowledge about all things tech and is excited by innovation disrupting everyday lives.

Connect with Grainne on Linkedin

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