May 3, 2022
Behind every successful business strategy is a talented and motivated workforce that is ready to apply itself and achieve great things. A leader may have a flawless strategy, but if they cannot staff their teams with the most talented individuals, their vision will stay just that. A vision. Unfortunately, the tools organizations use to identify and recruit the best talent have not changed much over the last few decades: resumés, interviews, and reference checks continue to be the predominant methods for evaluating potential. Sadly, many studies demonstrate that these methods are unpredictive, biased, and are inefficient. The good news is that innovations in artificial intelligence offer exciting tools that improve the recruitment process for both organizations and candidates.
New artificial intelligence powered tools such as digital interviews and game-based psychometric assessments allow recruiters to apply scientifically validated tools and leverage data-driven algorithms that can be demonstrated to be highly predictive of job performance. This is because AI tools are able to process large amounts of non-traditional data (think emails messages, digital footprints, biometrics, etc.) and quickly identify their relationship to relevant markers of success. Moreover, these algorithms can be inspected and tested to ensure that they are not biased against demographic groups. This can not be said for overconfident recruiters who “trust their instinct” (aka trust their biases).
To harness the opportunity that the AI revolution presents, it’s clear that recruiters need to drastically change the way they operate. The future of recruitment will be algorithmic — automated workflows will take care of the everyday tasks while AI will be the primary tool to evaluate a candidate’s fit and suitability for a role. To ensure that these technologies will be appropriately and ethically used, there are three competencies recruiters must become more proficient in.
We often meet excited leaders who come to us with the ambition of using AI to identify high performing candidates. Unfortunately, this enthusiasm is not met with the implementation of solid performance management practices. This means that they do not know how to define talent or performance, nor have they operationalized these definitions into objective and high-quality measures of performance. The first step in leveraging A.I tools is to ensure that you have solid outcome metrics with which to train your algorithms against. Without this, the promise of AI cannot be realized. If AI is to become a valuable tool for hiring managers, it is important that recruiters spend the time investing in improving their organization’s ability to collect accurate performance metrics and more closely attribute job output to individuals.
Just as HR has increasingly grown to incorporate more I-O psychologists, the future of HR will grow to include technologists and data scientists. In particular, this will mean recruiters will need to become data literate. The data literate practitioner is able to turn data into the insights and knowledge needed to affect organization performance and decision-making. To achieve this, recruiters will need to learn new hard skills so that they do not become a bottleneck to the use and availability of data-driven and A.I. powered tools.
The influential thinker Cathy O’Neil describes how algorithms that are opaque, highly consequential to one’s life, and used at scale, as “weapons of math destruction”. To disarm these ‘WMDs’, HR needs to not only develop expertise in the collection and interpretation of data but become mindful of how algorithms are used and deployed. This requires new skills that allow practitioners to select the right providers and vendors, critically evaluate the effectiveness and limitations of assessment algorithms, and know what safeguards are put in place to detect and remove bias. Being able to explain what data the algorithm uses, how it was developed, the representativeness of the training dataset, and the potential of harmful or untended consequences, is critical for considered and responsible use of algorithms.
The artificial intelligence revolution is here to stay. HR leaders are in a unique position to harness this innovation and transform the way they select and recruit talent. The key challenge for leaders is to start building the in-house expertise that is needed to use these tools to their full potential.
Reece Akhtar is an organizational psychologist and co-author of The Future of Recruitment: Using the New Science of Talent Analytics to Get Your Hiring Right with Franziska Leutner, and Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic. Out now, published by Emerald, priced £18.99