AI’s impact on recruitment and hiring

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“Beam me up, Scotty!” Star Trek’s Captain Kirk’s request may have seemed like a far-fetched galactic dream decades ago, but it doesn’t seem that futuristic now!

Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) have revolutionised the world of work, and that’s just the beginning. AI programmes like ChatGPT have taken up space, not just in the actual work process, but also in recruitment and hiring.

Paul Byrne, Head of Insights at Saongroup Africa, says it’s crucial to explore AI’s impact in recruitment.

Although he believes the future of recruitment lies in the synergy between AI and human intelligence, Byrne admits that AI has pros and cons.

Pros
Reducing human bias

Hiring bias is not only detrimental to job seekers, but to recruiters, employers and businesses too. Unconscious biases can compromise diversity and inclusion efforts, as well as company retention rates.

AI could potentially reduce human bias since it can be programmed to focus on important factors such as skills, work experience and qualifications.

Freeing up time

Manually going through job applications can be time consuming for recruiters. AI could dramatically reduce the time spent through a more automated selection process.

Improving candidate experience

Since recruiters are often too busy to respond to applications, using chatbots and virtual assistants can improve feedback turnaround time.

Cons

Keyword dependency

Since AI relies on keywords to process job applications and CVs, this could make it easy for candidates to “trick” the system – by strategically arranging keywords to present themselves as a good fit.

Absence of human judgement

Although AI may reduce human bias in hiring, it may overlook candidates with atypical work experience, even though they might be the best fit based on personality and ‘soft skills.’ Assessing character traits and personal attributes requires human judgement.

AI is impersonal

Let’s face it. Regardless of innovative software improvements to produce human-like intelligence, personal intuition can’t be simulated. While chatbots have all the answers to frequently asked questions, a recruiter’s personal intuition for quality candidates is indispensable.

Concerns

While others see AI as a useful tool to simplify job responsibilities and increase workflow, the emergence of AI programmes like ChatGPT has ruffled feathers, as some professionals worry about the possibility of being replaced by chatbots.

Here’s a list of jobs susceptible to extinction as AI gains popularity:

  • Call centre agents: Chatbots are capable of responding to customer requests and resolving queries, even quicker than humans.
  • Media jobs: Copywriters, journalists and graphic designers face possible threat as ChatGPT and similar AI tools become widely used for writing and content creation.
  • Teachers: Chatbots are programmed to provide answers to different kinds of questions. Once refined, they could easily become excellent teaching tools, perhaps even teachers!
  • Entry-level admin roles: through automation of routine tasks, AI can perform some basic administrative functions.
  • Sales representatives: Chatbots can be automated to provide customers with useful product information, and respond to product-related questions.

What happens now?

When it comes to technological advancements, perception is key.

Whether you’re an employee or a job seeker, you can either choose to perceive AI as a threat, or a useful tool to improve productivity.

Still worried about your place at the office? Here are some tips to leverage your space in the workforce and stay ahead of the ever-improving super-bots:

  • Upskilling: study further and acquire new skills to improve your employment prospects.
  • Specialising: find a niche and make it your area of expertise. Do it so well, that not even a chatbot can keep up.
  • Using AI to improve productivity: embrace AI as part of your job and use it to increase your output.

According to Byrne, human judgement and intuition remain invaluable in recruitment.

‘Although AI certainly has the potential to change the landscape of recruiting to some degree, it is not a silver bullet that can solve all hiring challenges,’ Byrne concludes.

The Citizen/Vukosi Maluleke