Artificial intelligence has come a long way since it was first imagined in cinema. While some may believe that A.I. is only part of video games, it is actually becoming a large focus in the technology sector and the wider business sector. From the self-driving & semi-automated Semi Truck from Tesla and the smart drone delivery pilots from Amazon and UPS to the integrated A.I. that is being tested in online banking by Barclays and Natwest, A.I. is a reality today, the genie is well and truly off the silver screen and in the development labs, if not quite in the high streets yet.

A.I. is fundamentally changing the way that businesses are designing services, engaging with the market and ultimately changing their workforce profile and the way that their workforce is deployed. In a three part series, we will be focusing on how A.I. is changing the business sector, starting with the impact on recruitment and retention.

When searching for a new position, you may not realize it, but you could be interacting with artificial intelligence already. A report by Deloitte in 2017 stated that 33% of businesses that responded used A.I. in some aspect to recruit.

With employment rates being at a record low within the last 17 years, there is the need to find quality candidates to fill roles admist a deluge of applications. Recruiters are beginning to use A.I. in order to filter through the hundreds of resumes that they would receive in order to save time.

One example of how the digital world is changing is HireVue, a video interviewing tool that allows applicants to answer hiring questions in the comfort of their home. By having multiple candidates complete this, it would allow the recruiter to compare recordings for dozens of candidates, instead of comparing notes that they took during the interview.  It’s a good technique also for where the interview panel may be geographically spread out and so saves the company and the candidate time and money. Of course it’s not without limitations – some of us are not great on webcam and it does limit some of the non-verbal signals that come across in a face to face approach, but for a filtration level interview it’s a great way to get a better sense of the candidate at a distance.

Another interview tool which takes this forward into the A.I space is Mya, an A.I. personal assistant that is used to engage with the applicant. Mya will ask the candidate basic questions, then record that information in order to screen later. It can also answer questions on behalf of recruiters, and if Mya does not know the answer she will ask the company. Mya gives the candidate a sense of interaction without significant drain on the limited recruitment team and allows a higher level of screening and selection. Although this is unlikely to replace the final interview it is an effective way of streamlining selection at pace.

With tools like this already in use, how will the recruiting landscape truly change in the long run? There are multiple different ways that it can still evolve.

A.I. will be able to scan and find resumes that match the position, smarter and quicker, taking into account cultural phraseology and nuance. Instead of spending time going through hundreds of resumes to find the right candidates to long list and then short list, the A.I. can intelligently filter down the candidates. This will free up recruiters time so that they can create lasting connections with the applicants and focus more on exploring the social and emotional intelligence that is so essential in the workplace.

Already with job density declining there is an increasing focus on getting the perfect CV/resume and multiple services developing to help you get the wording and structure just right. As the A.I filters get more sophisticated candidates will need to sell themselves much harder just to get noticed to be a potential hire.

Interviews will become automated and done over recordings instead of in person. This technology is already being used for first stage interviews by some companies and will undoubtedly grow and integrate A.I. more into the process. Candidates should become prepared to do an interview over a video service recorder instead of in-person. Most of us should start to get used to the thought of instead of answering face to face across the interview table, we should become accustomed to answering the red recording dot on the computer screen.

Hiring bias will be lessened. A.I. are capable of reading facial and body expressions, listening and understanding what you are saying to the point where they can calculate whether you are someone the company will want to move forward with. When they calculate your score they are not looking at what you look like, or bringing in any preconceived notion. Although of course, conscious or unconscious bias could be built in by the A.I programmers, but by nature they are completely objective in their assessment.

This could be a real game changer particularly for disabled people and the concept of reasonable adjustment in the workplace. A.I could potentially change the culture and approach to inclusion of disabled people in the workplace through removing some of the unconscious and conscious bias at interview but also by providing smart solutions to reasonable adjustment that are ready to go at appointment. As candidates disclose their demographics the A.I would explore with the candidate their disability and adjustment needs and work across the internal processes and protocols to describe the potential adjustment package, all within a closed envelope that could be unlocked at the final stage of appointment.

It will change the recruiting profession for everyone. A large portion of time in recruiting is spent on screening resumes, and conducting interviews. With A.I. systems currently beginning to take over those specific duties. Expect the recruiting responsibilities to change. Recruiters will be able to spend more time interacting with the candidates that are brought in and focusing on the emotional and social intelligence skills that are so crucial to good line management and teams. The questions that they ask you in person will become more behavioral, and they will be able to use the time they saved in order to make the best decision for the company.

However as Stephen Pratt, CEO of enterprise AI startup said “The thing with AI is that a lot of people think it’s magic, but it’s not magic – it’s math. If you understand the math behind it, you can understand how it works.”   This ultimately means that like any math equation once you know the key pivots you can game it, hence recruiters focus on those that get through the A.I filters will stretch and challenge more to ensure the best fit.

Artificial intelligence is not going to go away, it is only going to grow and become more prominent in society.We may not all have self-driving cars now, but that doesn’t mean in the future that we won’t.