Artificial Intelligence: The Model for Intelligent Recruiting?

Recruiter Magazine

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a new trend in the field of psychometric assessment - and it’s something that recruiters should welcome, says Dr Achim Preuss.

The idea of artificially replicating the human thought process has been part of assessment for some time. Item generators – which randomly assign questions in psychometric assessments, to ensure no two tests are the same – use a form of AI. Everyone thinks of AI as ‘robots’ but that’s only a small component. AI is the science of making intelligent machines. A machine is ‘intelligent’ when it can change its behaviour based on its ‘knowledge’ or internal representation of the world. Machine-learning means that the machine can adapt its internal representation based on feedback.

Intelligent personal assistants, such as Amazon Echo, Apple’s Siri, Google Now, IBM Watson and Microsoft’s Cortana, are based on AI. They’re built on deep-learning based neural networks (that stem from an expert’s experience) and this enables them to deliver detailed, contextualised answers to users’ questions. With AI, expert knowledge is transferred into a system so that the system is able to perform as if it is the expert. The AI systems of the future will add value in the recruitment process, helping recruiters by providing ongoing expert support.

The recruitment process for many low-level jobs has already been automated and this trend is set to continue. It started with the move to unsupervised testing. Before this, employers had to invigilate psychometric tests. Then, the need for experts to review the test results was replaced by automated and easy-to-interpret reports based on a candidate’s responses. Now, voice recognition and facial analysis technology enable video interviews to be scored and evaluated by machines, further reducing the need for human interaction.

But that doesn’t mean that the recruiter’s role is dead.

Machines can extrapolate and make predictions based on a learned model of past behaviour and experience – but currently they are not capable of envisioning a desired future. They can’t identify the requirements of future roles – or the situational context which needs to be assessed – if those roles don’t already exist. For example, with volume recruitment, a human element is important at the beginning of the process to determine what competencies or attributes are required in the role. AI could help with this in the future. An artificial recruiter could communicate with HR and ask what the new recruit should be able to do.

Soon, ‘machines’ will be able to analyse aspects such as how team members interact and what characteristics are missing for an ‘optimum mix’ team. The machine could then source suitable candidates by gathering ‘non-reactive’ data on individuals (that’s information on candidates which already exists and can be captured without them necessarily being aware). The machine could then automatically assess, interview and appoint the ideal candidate. So, we’re reaching a stage where an individual could join an organisation without ever having interacted with a human in their application process.

This might sound like Star Wars technology. But the ‘wars’ for your future ‘stars’ will be fought using systems such as this. As I said, recruiters will still play an important role in this process. For example, a machine may be able to source suitable external candidates but ‘human head-hunters’ will still need to contact and liaise with the individuals concerned, especially for senior roles.

The future model for recruiters is that of an airline pilot. 90 percent of flying a plane can be undertaken by a machine. It is effectively management by exception. But a pilot is still a prestigious role. These individuals need to be highly skilled and they need to be able to step in and take control if something goes wrong. Importantly, they provide confidence to members of the public. As the developers of self-driving cars have found, the concept of putting one’s life completely in the hands of a machine is difficult to accept. Recruiters can provide that same confidence in organisations. In recruitment, low-end jobs will continue to be automated but there will always be a need to have an expert at the helm for more senior roles – not just in case something goes wrong but also to ‘create’ the talent requirements of the future.

What does this mean for recruiters:


  • Artificial Intelligence is changing the process of recruitment, leading to even greater automation when sourcing, assessing and interviewing candidates. But recruitment will always need a human face.
  • Tomorrow’s recruiters will be like airline pilots – skilled experts who oversee automated processes and can take control in an emergency.
  • Understand your strategic value and play to your strengths. Machines will increasingly support you but the essence of your role – which machines cannot replicate is the ability to envision your organisation’s future talent needs and to identify the competencies and attributes that will be required in upcoming roles.
  • Welcome the advent of new technology. Developments in Artificial Intelligence will ultimately help you to recruit the right people – and that benefits your organisation and your function.

Learn more about online assessment.

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Aon creates smart measurement solutions with valid and innovative online assessment products. Aon is globally the preferred partner for organisations who demand the best.

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