AI can’t replace the human factor in recruitment

In this day and age, we would be hard pressed to find any industry that is not adopting – or at least exploring – how Artificial Intelligence (AI) or machine learning will impact their industry. As professionals specializing in leadership recruitment in the technology start-up sector, we have the opportunity to witness the potential of AI in many of our clients’ innovation agendas.

As wonderful as the potential of AI can be, there are areas where the human factor cannot be eliminated. For sectors like human resources, whose raison d’être is human interaction, AI can serve as a valuable enabler in laborious, repetitive, data-driven functions, such as applicant screening, candidate sourcing, and communications (i.e. recruitment chatbots), scheduling, onboarding and training, and performance analysis, among others.




The role of AI in HR

There is much that can be said for how these capabilities can vastly improve a number of challenges the HR realm is facing. A key one is inherent and/or unintended bias. To that end, AI applicant screening tools can reduce or eliminate bias by comparing relevant data points on qualifications, while ignoring potentially prejudicial data such as race, age, and gender.

Leadership performance is another. There are AI tools for example, that can help organizations assess leadership characteristics based on employee feedback.


Toronto a hotbed for AI innovation

In Toronto alone, we are seeing an interesting groundswell of start-ups engaged in HR-related solutions. Plum.io for example leverages AI to cut through the clutter to ensure candidates are the right fit for organizations, from defining job requirements, to screening resumes, to structuring interview questions. Blue J Legal’s Employment Foresight tool is the first machine learning-based solution designed to predict the likeliest outcomes of employment law disputes.

Anyone in our industry would agree that the future is indeed bright in terms of what AI will bring to the HR community, particularly in terms of eliminating bias and streamlining the initial screening process. But that does not mean we can afford to lose sight of the human part of human resources.


The role of an experience recruiter

Determining cultural fit, and the many other intangibles that are part of parcel of successful leadership, is not something that can be determined by even the most sophisticated of machine learning techniques. While technology may be able to narrow the field to a select few, the “last mile” is arguably the most important step in the leadership recruitment process.


This is where a skilled recruiter can explore the nuances that determine a cultural fit; determine if a high-scoring “team player” is actually the right addition to a particular organization’s group dynamic; or can understand the underlying factors that will make that potential leader stay around for the longer haul.

AI may do a lot to improve an industry that has long been overwhelmed by an overabundance of data and complex processes. But it is not a substitute for the intuition and foresight that a human can bring to the equation.

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