Why recruiters need to be worried about AI

I try to read a few articles from my field almost every day and recently I have seen a lot articles with titles like “AI Will Replace Recruiters” or “End of Recruitment Because the AI” etc. These articles are full of information about new startups that are going to disturb the recruitment market (yes, we have heard that many times before) with new apps, machine learning, AI and other cool apps that will help you to find candidates faster than recruiters. Some tools state that they are five to ten times faster than a recruiter.
Btw. if you know how they are getting these numbers (5 times faster than recruiter) let me know, because I don’t think that there is any real research behind it. I think that there is some Bulgarian constant behind it. 🙂
(A Bulgarian constant is basically anything which makes your result correct.)

These news apps will break down your job description into quantitative criteria to find the perfect candidates everywhere on the Internet. They promise better candidates more quickly and they save time and human error during pre-selection.

Based on many of these articles it seems that machine learning is the new silver bullet that will fix the issues of hiring, and together with chatbots that it will replace recruiters soon. So I asked myself, is it time for recruiters to find a job in a different field, because our end is near? Are we going to be replaced by AI or is this just another hyped up claim like other tools that have come before it? And how will AI change recruitment in the future?

Artificial Intelligence in Recruitment

Technology in the 21st century has witnessed and enjoyed more growth and acceptance than any other age in human history; even the age of the industrial revolution didn’t come quite close. One of the major hallmarks of 21st century innovation apart from social media is the fast-growing field of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. AI and robotics involves the study and application of smart machines to accomplish tasks in faster, safer, and more efficient ways; they find applications in several industries.  In fact, the use of AI and robotics to solve the daily problems of humans has a direct effect on the workplace since machines are known to accomplish tasks easier, faster and cheaper than humans.

In recruiting, artificial intelligence is increasingly finding its way into the development of tools that facilitate the hiring process from resume screening and sorting to face-to-face interviews.

What Could Go Wrong

Human error is part of our job, well human errors are everywhere, but what if many candidates suitable for a job could end up jobless due to some lines of code that a developer has written? One recruiter could be poor at his job, but what if 1000 companies use AI with this error in its coding?

If machines can perform tasks faster and easier than even the most super of humans, will the extensive adoption of this technology not lead to job losses and unemployment? Most people are scared that robots will take their jobs and that sentiment is echoed each time a ground-breaking announcement is made in the field of robotics. But many have also argued that AI and automation are tools for improving productivity and job creation.  Even though the adoption and effectiveness of AI in taking over human tasks is still a subject of much debate, people on both sides of the divide and indeed any unbiased observer can infer that AI and automation is bound to affect recruitment.

For a long time, many recruiters have relied on “Boolean search” to help them get the right talent and for many other things that I have already mentioned in this article.  The implication is that a lot of recruiters spend time typing in keywords and cross-referencing them with a large amount of data in a bid to select candidates who may not even be right fit for the job.  This is an area where AI can be very effective. However, AI works with data collected on the internet, so it could miss (during the search) the candidate who only fills in a small amount of information on his LinkedIn profile. AI could save time, making it quick and effective, but it will take time for it to become as creative as humans during the search process.

Understanding that selecting the right fit for an organization in terms of personality and skills transcends that which can only be seen on the resume, AI could be employed to study the social imprint of candidates. AI can crawl many sites that potential candidates visit – not just Facebook and Twitter, but career portals, knowledge-sharing platforms such as coding websites (GitHub, StackOverflow), and even personal websites where candidates tend to share information about the projects they’ve been working on, the organizations they have volunteered for, and their passions. But AI could also seek out things that candidates are trying to hide from the world or that they don’t want to be shared. What if you had written a derogatory Tweet about a company a few years ago; now you are applying for a job there, AI finds the Tweet and you are rejected as a result? Furthermore, you wouldn’t necessarily learn the real reason why they rejected you.

This information can be used to validate the skills that applicants claim to possess since an employer has more extensive information which can be used to check for the claimed skills gives recruiters more knowledge about finer details such as how engaged and focused the potential employees are, what opportunities they are looking for, and what kind of future they envisage. AI will also help employers to narrow down the talent pool in order to understand variables that include personal preferences; it will also help to answer questions about whether the candidate would work for up to three years in this company; this will help recruiters to maximize the value of each recruitment.

AI and Big Data

Employee conversion ratio is a metric that recruitment professionals use to determine how successful their efforts have been. In the future AI could help to be reduce the gap in the identification and selection of candidates that in the long-term will yield more returns on investment in terms of selecting, training and remunerating the candidate.

Automated recruitment could also eliminate possible recruiter bias that human recruitment is prone to, even though, in practice, algorithms are also vulnerable to blind spots. For example, when the criterion for selection is seniority, a machine may favor traditional information displaying continuous work and career progression, potentially affecting professionals who are on parental leave or who have decided to take some time off work.

AI will evaluate everything it finds on the internet, but there is potential for errors: if AI pairs the wrong person with a candidate profile, and the recruiter will trust AI without double-checking data, the candidate will be removed from the process, even if he is the right person for the role. And if you think that this is not going to happen, just think for a moment how much we trust our technologies and information that we find on the Internet currently. We stop double-checking information and we also stop doing that when we get recruitment data from AI.

Even though AI has obvious positives that have been discussed, it still faces challenges, one of which is people skills such as human emotion. The ability to consider the perspectives of other people, complex problem solving skills, the ability to think critically, and positive interpersonal skills are still an important area that has yet to be learned. So it is safe to assume that even though AI is increasingly being adopted and is poised to take a major role in recruiting, the next disruption in the HR industry might not be the intelligent sorting of applicants through Big Data, facilitating the pre-interview stages of selection.

A lot of people are already predicting that the next stage might simply be emotional intelligence, the traditional personal steps of the hiring process. For example, the analysis of video interviews for facial expressions and mannerisms; an aspect that is often neglected in many recruitment processes. There is no doubt that an interview that is guided in this way is a far more effective way of selecting the right candidate in terms of assessing skills, emotional intelligence, personality fit, long-term commitments, and positive ROI than the current practice.

Recruiter Replaced by Algorithm

I am not saying that apps using AI are bad, I am a big fan (geek) of new technology. Every year I do a few sanity checks for new apps, tools, features etc. but I still prefer human recruiters, because I believe that replacing good recruiters with AI won’t be easy if indeed it is even possible. On the other hand, replacing bad recruiters with AI is possible even today 🙂

Recruiters work with LinkedIn every day, but some candidates have already started removing their LinkedIn profiles (or don’t have any), or they are not active on the Internet so AI won’t be effective in finding them. And companies relying only on AI could overlook the right people and they will find only those who are active on the Internet and good at building their personal brand, but the really good ones will be hidden to them. Replacing networking and headhunting tactics won’t be so easy. AI will not take you for a coffee and discuss with you your career plans.

One topic that has interested me during the last few years is candidate experience, because I believe this part is more important these days the ever before. I don’t want to be a part of a future when recruiters use candidates like e-commerce items that they can customize with a swipe, through some super modern cool app. Candidates are people and not just a piece of data, so the implementation of cool chatbots and smart AI needs to be well planned, because it could affect your candidate experience and ultimately hurt your candidate activities. There will be always a desire for human experience.


As a person I would like to interact with real people and not chat with a bot that rejects me simply because its code has a bug. I am not saying that using these apps/bots is bad, but bear in mind that our field is about people and it should continue to be about them;  relying solely on these apps could hurt your candidate experience and branding more than you can imagine. (I know that I have already mentioned this, but I really think it’s important)

Yes, AI will change our jobs in the future, but I hope it will bring benefits to all of us (candidates and recruiters).

(This part is all in good fun.)

What will the future with AI look like?

Recruiters are going to use bots to find/prescreen candidates, I expect that candidates will also use their own bots. And because developers are pretty amazing and clever people I expect the candidates’ bots to be better than the bots maintained by recruiters. So in the future, we will witness bots chatting with and interviewing other bots. Candidates will be informed if their bots succeed during the interview and recruiters will get info if their bots hire a new candidate (bot). 🙂