While some – many even – still view the growing presence of artificial intelligence in our lives with some trepidation, it’s clear the talent acquisition (TA) community isn’t part of that crowd.

When we asked them, 87 percent of TA professionals said they’re excited about working with AI. Now, as we reach the point of moving beyond the first adopter phase and into more widespread, fully-embedded use of AI in talent processes, this enthusiasm needs to translate into careful, skilled use of these tools.

We’re predicting that this transition – and its associated challenges – will be a major trend for 2020. AI offers a lot, but only if these tools are used in a way that enhances the candidate experience and continues to recognise the importance of human interaction.

The use of AI in talent processes needs to translate into careful, skilled use of AI tools. Click To Tweet

The big AI opportunity

There’s good reason for the hype surrounding talent-based AI tools. The current tech on the market gives recruiters the information they need to source and hire higher-quality professionals, while reducing some of the intense legwork that recruiters have had to endure in the past. Nearly half of the respondents (48 percent) to our survey say big data and AI are making their roles easier, with 40 percent saying the top way it helps is through providing valuable insights and 27 percent saying it has freed up their time.

The data-crunching power of these tools helps dramatically enhance outcomes by finding patterns and relationships which lead to a better understanding of what a successful person looks like in a particular position. And the answer can sometimes be surprising. Take, for example, a search we conducted for a global automotive maker. We discovered that in one country there was a significant movement of executives from the luxury goods sector to the automotive sector – a relationship that wouldn’t have been obvious without using AI.

There’s also logistical benefits to be unleashed through the use of AI assistants to manage and engage with candidates in a way that enhances candidate experience. An AI assistant can offer a 24/7 responsive process, meaning candidates don’t have to suffer a long wait to get updates, feedback or outcomes, helping to eliminate ghosting.

The same goes for volume hiring, where using AI assistants and assessment tools can see candidates complete the application process, assessments and be scheduled for an interview in as little as 30 minutes. Candidates experience a seamless process, while the administrative burden is lifted from recruiters and they’re armed with a complete profile of the applicant from the earliest steps of the process.

But bots don’t always beat humans

Although big data and AI offer enormous benefits to both candidate and recruiter, we have to overcome the bot in the room: professionals still have less trust in AI than in human recruiters. While 72 percent of respondents to our survey agreed AI should be used during the recruitment process, more than two-thirds – 68 percent – said it wouldn’t be fair if AI alone chose who should be interviewed without the input of a human recruiter.

And it seems that most people still believe in the primacy of human relationships: 90 percent of respondents said technology cannot replace the human interaction required to recruit effectively. The professionals surveyed reported the top benefit of working with a recruiter is the ability to build strong relationships.

Bots don't always beat humans: 90% of respondents said technology cannot replace the human interaction required to recruit effectively. Click To Tweet

Making AI work

Simply rolling out a suite of AI tools won’t ensure success. In fact, it’s likely to do the opposite, unless the human factor is carefully considered:

    • From the recruiter’s perspective: Data for data’s sake is not a solution for smart talent acquisition practices. AI should provide hiring managers with tangible insights, not simply industry rules of thumb or anecdotal stories about similar searches. While this is, in part, about the selection of tools, it’s also about ensuring that recruiters are appropriately trained in the use of the tools and empowered to use them to draw out the strategic and tactical insights that will truly elevate the selection process. 
    • From the candidate’s perspective: More than ever today, convenience and feedback are highly prized, but these benefits of AI cannot replace human contact. An integrated candidate experience must include both technological and human touchpoints. Candidates still want to be able to pick up the phone and reach a real person.

The expansion of AI is just one of the talent trends we’re predicting for 2020, read about the others in our Talent Trends 2020 infographics.

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About the contributor

Emma is the Vice President of the Korn Ferry RPO business in New Zealand and is also responsible for driving the strategic direction of the Auckland Talent Delivery Centre. She leads a large hub of sourcing specialists delivering sourcing and administration support to our key RPO clients across ANZ.

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