As popular as artificial intelligence has become among tech industry analysts, it can often bring up two different images for most people: science-fiction supercomputers straight out of the movies or smart home speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home.
But in many fields, AI isn’t simply a loosely-defined buzzword anymore. For human resources and hiring professionals, AI has already started to enter the industry in various areas.
A LinkedIn report found that more than 50 percent of hiring professionals found AI to be helpful with tasks like identifying and developing applicants.
Here’s how AI has shifted the job interview process for both candidates and interviewers.
1. Making grunt work easier
In any job hiring cycle, the early stages usually contain the most tedious work. During this point, staffing professionals traditionally had to comb through countless applications to manually identify potential qualified and unqualified candidates.
But in many organizations, AI has emerged as a valuable tool through two applications: chatbots and candidate screening automation.
“Businesses would be smart to start using AI in the interview process,” Micah Pratt of Business.org said. “At the very least, Smart technology could aid in screening candidates, which would save manpower.”
Popularized on platforms like Facebook Messenger, chatbots refer to customer service programs that work similarly to instant messenger or text messaging clients.
Current-generation chatbots can take advantage of the versatility that AI provides. Especially for hiring professionals, chatbot developers have the resources to develop bots that can automate tasks such as interview scheduling, low-level candidate screening and answering application questions for areas like benefits and salary expectations.
In customer interactions, advanced chatbots typically rely on a dedicated knowledge database to pull answers from in conversations that seamlessly work like those with a human.
Shobhit Gupta (Business Strategy and Operations Lead at AI recruiter developer AllyO) emphasized how chatbots can mutually benefit interviewers and interviewees.
“Recruiters benefit from the automation of mundane tasks like interview scheduling and are able to focus on other activities, while the candidate goes through the process without feeling frustrated.” Gupta said.
Especially for entry-level and non-senior hiring, these tools can improve both efficiency and candidate quality for employers. At internet services company Sutherland via LinkedIn Talent Blog, its hiring team introduced its own in-house hiring chatbot and was able to reduce its candidate drop-off rate, which refers to applicants who abandon the job search process, by 18 percent in only two months.
2. Screening poor-fit candidates
AI-powered automation has also streamlined how hiring managers handle early rounds of the job search process. In areas like resume and candidate processing, machine learning, which broadly refers to AI applications that independently learn how to perform tasks, has been a valuable asset for organizations.
With these tools, hiring managers can quickly analyze applications and filter out candidates on any number of customizable criteria.
Automated AI screening has also played a major part in interview tools like video interviews. In these instances, candidates will record themselves answering a series of standard job interview questions.
Using AI, hiring managers can similarly analyze these clips to measure candidates in areas like body language, personality, and cadence. While these tools aren’t typically the only factor that goes into early round hiring, managers have used them to efficiently identify potential applicants and save time.
3. Making implicit bias harder
For hiring teams that have to process countless applications and candidates, it can be easy to fall back on obvious crutches when deciding who to identify or turn down. But with its focus on data-heavy filtering, AI can be a potential tool to avoid these issues.
“AI also has the promise of eliminating unconscious bias in the hiring process because it can ignore a candidate’s name, race, gender and appearance,” Carisa Miklusak, CEO of smart recruiting company Tilr, said.
Unconscious bias is a well-documented problem for hiring managers and businesses, as it can be easy to overemphasize certain aspects of a candidate’s profile over other areas.
LinkedIn found that 42 percent of surveyed hiring managers felt that traditional job interviews could be affected by interviewer bias.
Tools like candidate psychological tests and aptitude evaluations have become increasingly popular among companies who want to reduce the effects of implicit bias.
By collecting this soft and hard-skill data and using AI to analyze it against certain factors, companies can develop predictive models that, in a best-case scenario, determine how capable a candidate might be for a role.
By themselves, AI-powered hiring tools won’t be the only way to eliminate biases from hiring. Poorly-developed AI that weighs the same bias as human evaluators can continue the same negative hiring trends that it’s supposed to prevent.
But for hiring managers, AI’s emphasis on data can be a potential way to evaluate a candidate’s ability alongside their credentials during the hiring process.
4. Making the human element smarter, but harder
For all the progress that AI has made among hiring professionals, there’s a reason why the field is called human resources.
“There is much to be said for human intuition and ‘gut feeling’ when it comes to interviewing candidates, especially when it comes to a cultural fit,” Pratt said.
Via LinkedIn, hiring managers agreed that AI and automation won’t replace human managers entirely for tasks like closing on offers and building personal relationships with candidates.
Especially for senior-level hires, the hiring process relies just as heavily on intangibles like personality and negotiation as it does on tasks that automated AI-powered tools could perform.
For job candidates at firms that have integrated AI into their hiring teams, expect these tools to shift the hiring process in varying ways. In many cases, acing the interview won’t be the make or break factor for an offer.
Instead, candidates will have to go through a wider ringer of tests and interviews as AI-driven companies try to collect as much data as they can in advance of hiring or rejecting a candidate.
While these extra hoops can be a burden for both sides of the interview process, it’s ultimately working towards finding a strong fit for both the hiring company and the job candidate.