In years past, it was hard to convince senior executives and managers that artificial intelligence had the sophistication and flexibility to handle anything beyond routine tasks. Today, automation technology is being incorporated to streamline a range of internal business processes and provide increasingly refined business insights. Companies are using it to improve everything from customer relationship management to managing inventory. In fact, it has advanced well beyond “process” automation to higher-level problem solving and critical thinking, affecting entire categories of jobs, from bank tellers and telemarketers to news writers and radiologists.
But as more organizations apply automation and artificial intelligence technology to these high-level business functions and jobs, HR is among the last hold outs. This is understandable. No one knows better than HR the threat machines pose to the jobs of the people they manage and to the core of what they do: use judgment and expertise to engage, evaluate and hire the best talent.
As this article will show, smart hiring automation can deliver a number of significant benefits, offering more rigorous, objective and systematic evaluation, and providing hiring managers with more predictive insight into each candidate’s fit and potential. The challenge is to show HR how this technology can improve and augment what they do, and to make sure that they understand the competitive disadvantages of neglecting to embrace it as their competitors use it to more precisely and effectively find and hire top talent.
More organizations understand that AI is a train that’s leaving the station; at some point, HR administrators will need to be brought onboard, or risk being left behind as other organizations out-maneuver them in bringing on the best talent. The maturity of smart hiring automation and its demonstrable advantages over traditional hiring processes gives tech-savvy brokers an opportunity to play a pivotal role in helping move HR and their talent acquisition efforts in this direction.
Taking the leap
Many companies have embraced web-based screening and applicant tracking technologies for a host of clear and compelling reasons, including:
job seekers can apply from anywhere and at anytime
data entry is simplified and mistakes reduced
candidate information is easily managed, organized and searched
Adding smart automation—or artificial intelligence—turns the process from resume collection and parsing to real-time assessments where no two job candidates are asked the same questions. Smart automation is based on adaptive questioning and “branching logic” for naturalistic interviews. Such a platform can also allow for the integration of appropriate simulations, videos, and application forms.
Using smart hiring automation, managers can configure the platform for specific positions and hiring criteria (from real-time assessments required of core manufacturing jobs, to culture fit). Job applicants are able to enter the system without a resume, and demonstrate their skills, aptitudes and attitudes in real time, from any device. Applicants are “assembled” in rank order, providing hiring managers with thoroughly vetted candidates ready for the final interview. Processes and evaluations can be continuously refined, as each question/answer becomes a data point, improving the quality of hire (QofH) and predictive analytics.
Validating ROI of smart hiring automation
As HR costs continue to increase, and with more time spent on administration and service, an automated solution that integrates screening and assessment delivers meaningful cost and times savings, as well as other significant, quantifiable returns:
Reduces administrative overhead. Compared to maintaining resumes (most of which are either outdated or off-the-market by the time an opening occurs), a fluid candidate evaluation process that provides “just in time” position-to-candidate matching is faster, more convenient for all parties, and more accurate. Moreover, deferring employer intervention to a later stage frees up valuable time and resources that can now be spent on more strategic HR functions.
Increases cost-effectiveness. The cost of assessments today is much lower, partly because automation has been applied to the development and validation efforts, which were previously performed manually by industrial psychologists. Mechanisms for the administration of assessments make them more convenient for both employer and candidate, and faster to score. Automating assessments increases efficiencies—and lowers associated costs—further by reducing the need for dedicated professionals and eliminating the bottlenecks manual assessments introduce.
Reduces time to hire. Reducing a process that normally spans six to eight weeks to an unattended 15 to 30 minute experience has obvious advantages. Not so obvious are the advantages of quickly processing ideal candidates and hiring them before competing employers even receive a resume.
Improves quality of hire. Companies basing the initial candidate interaction on a resume learn only what the candidate wants them to know. Smart hiring automation enables you to include job-specific questions, real-time assessments, and simulations, providing a more realistic preview of job performance. Organizations can look beyond resumes and skill sets to identify the characteristics and behaviors that will indicate whether a candidate will succeed in that environment. Having this level of insight ultimately improves the quality of new hires.
Establishes gold standard of excellence. The behavioral assessment tools embedded in this model can help employers identify and define the qualities of a successful employee and use that information to construct preformatted interviews that screen and rank candidates based on their responses. In short, the model provides employers with a system to set standards for excellence and optimize its quality of hires by producing repeatable results across the organization.
Assesses broad competencies and specific job-related skills. The model’s interactive assessment capabilities allows employers to ask informed, job-specific questions (i.e., computer programming, accounting principles) that will identify those applicants who can demonstrate the practical application of their skills, knowledge, and experience. A resume may “tell” an employer what the candidate wants her to know, but an interactive assessment shows her what the candidate can do.
Presents the employer with an entirely new pool of candidates: the other 80 percent of the workforce who do not have current resumes. A majority of employers have neither the time nor resources to otherwise tap into this pool because they are requiring resumes as a prerequisite to applying. Up to now, there was no way to consider a candidate without a resume, so this huge pool was ignored and employers competed with one another for the remaining 20 percent of the market with resumes. Direct, job- and culture-specific questioning yields more targeted information than even a resume would.
In “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” Daniel Kahneman related an unexpected lesson he drew from his experience designing an assessment for the Israeli armed forces: “I have never forgotten: Intuition adds value even in the justly derided selection interview, but only after a disciplined collection of objective information and disciplined scoring of separate traits.” Smart hiring automation allows organizations to:
bring objectivity and scientific rigor to assessment
standardize best hiring practices
source better candidates
deliver their company’s unique employment branding message
enable candidates to demonstrate their ability to demonstrate skills and decision-making via job-specific simulations
rank order candidates based on skills and culture fit
Smart hiring automation offers a rare combination of speed, precision and adaptability—essential for companies competing for talent in the fast-paced, highly fluid “new economy.” The technology is here, it’s ready … but is HR ready? The disconnect between HR and this technology is due to the persistent concern that it encroaches on their expertise. There’s also lingering doubt whether machines are truly capable of making what are considered to be “people decisions.” Tech-savvy brokers are well-positioned to allay these concerns and work with HR to better understand how they can use this technology to demonstrably refine and improve their ability to hire and retain top talent. In other words, demystify it, remove it as a threat, and position it as a tool that supports their work and makes them better at what they do.
Garry Kasparov, perhaps the greatest chess player of all time, speaks widely about AI, and says this about the resistance many people still have to it: “The future belongs to human and computer cooperation. Man plus machine decision making. Don’t fear intelligent machines. Work with them. We must face our fears if we want to get the most out of technology—and we must conquer those fears if we want to get the best out of humanity.”
Kasparov succinctly captures the value proposition for smart automation in a way that even HR might find hard to resist.