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Companies continue to find new and innovative ways to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) into their daily business practices. One emerging field is to use AI in the new hiring process.

For example, Unilever recently added new technology to help screen candidates for management roles. Various versions of AI technology serve to screen the candidates during the first three rounds of the interview process. First, dedicated algorithms sift through application forms to identify only those candidates who meet the criteria for the position. Second, the resulting pool of applicants receive invitations to partake in an electronic skill assessment test. Third, the top one-third of performers on this test are asked to submit to a video interview, during which they answer questions about issues they are likely to face while on the job. Once the AI has winnowed the field of applicants throughout these first three rounds, the remaining candidates are invited to have an interview with an actual person.

According to Unilever, the new AI-assisted process has resulted in offers to 80 percent of the candidates that make it through the rigorous screening process. By using the AI technology, the company can allocate the efforts of its human resources staff more efficiently: They focus only on qualified candidates.

Although these technologies continue to be honed and refined, the use of AI in the hiring process also may raise some concerns. For some applicants, particularly those with unconventional work or educational backgrounds, the stringent procedure makes it more difficult for them to be considered for positions. Furthermore, certain interpersonal skills or traits (e.g., warmth, charisma) may be given less priority by the AI than they would be by a human interviewer. Companies thus will need to weight the pros and cons carefully before deciding how much to incorporate AI into their hiring process.

Discussion Question:

  1. Do you think artificial intelligence systems can make better hiring decisions than humans?

Source: George Anderson, Retail Wire, June 28, 2016