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In ways more subtle than any of us can really imagine, artificial intelligence is changing the entire hiring experience. At a very basic level, so-called AI “bots” scan resumes for keywords, forcing candidates to adjust their resumes to “beat the bots.” However, recruiters are stepping up their use of AI to include things like facial recognition technology, as well as sophisticated algorithms that predict the overall “fit” of a candidate with a specific company, department, or job function. And some recruiters are using AI to determine who even gets to see a new job opening in the first place – without you even realizing it, you may have been passed over for a potential job, thanks to an AI bot that flagged a few of your personal traits or background experiences as not being a good match.
Getting past the three-second rule
So why are recruiters embracing AI throughout the hiring process? One big reason has to do with saving time and boosting efficiency. Any new job posting might get hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes in response, leaving recruiters feeling overwhelmed. The standard rule of thumb is that any human recruiter will spend less than three seconds examining your resume to see if you make the first cut. As a result, human recruiters are usually looking for reasons to exclude you from this first cut – a simple misspelling might be enough to get your resume discarded.
Using AI, the thinking goes, is one way to ensure that every candidate gets a fair shake. An AI bot can peruse thousands of resumes, and can give each resume the attention that it deserves. Moreover, AI might be able to pull out a sparkling gem of a resume that a human might have bypassed entirely due to the three-second rule.
Removing humans from the hiring process is dangerous
But here’s the big problem – we’re quickly reaching a point where humans (and by extension, “humanity”) are being removed from the entire hiring process. Chatbots are now conversing with candidates. Instead of face-to-face interviews, recruiters are embracing video interviews with candidates that can be examined using AI-powered facial recognition technology. You might be able to bluff your way past a human hiring manager, but just try to bluff your way past an AI algorithm!
And the real danger here is what some AI theorists refer to as the black box problem. All the decisions being made by an AI algorithm are soon going to be inscrutable to humans. It will be as if the decision was made by a black box, and humans will have no idea what just happened. Remember in school when teachers would give you extra credit for showing your “thought process” for how you solved a particular problem? Well, there’s no such equivalent (yet) in the world of AI. A job hiring bot might decide it likes a particular candidate, but be entirely unable to tell a human why. And that opens the door to all kinds of biases and assumptions – if an AI has been “trained” on the wrong data set, watch out!
Right now, AI is a shiny new toy in the hands of recruiters. At large corporations, it’s now possible to train AI algorithms on very robust data sets and add value to the hiring decision in new ways – such as by predicting how long a candidate will stay at the company or by finding all the hidden variables that determine cultural fit. However, don’t be distracted by this shiny new toy. Do you really want to live in a world where AI machines determine whether or not you get a new job or promotion? The more that humans are removed from the hiring process, the less humane the whole hiring process is going to become.