Future of HR Tech: Can AI Minimise Unconscious Bias?

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At TalentVine, we believe that despite the hype, effectively matching candidates to jobs is still years away. But an alternative approach — leveraging external recruiter performance data, provides an accurate predictor of success for landing A+ candidates fast.

Hard-to-fill roles still require the white-glove service offered by recruitment specialists, both internal and external. However, as an organisation we always like to look to the future and ask, ‘How can we disrupt our own model?’

Something that dominates these conversations is AI.

Diversity and inclusion is a hot topic in HR as organisations try to eliminate any form of discrimination from their hiring process. But our unconscious bias is hard to remove as all of us are affected without realising it. In the fight against unconscious bias in the recruitment process, we see an increasing number of experiments happening in AI and Robotics space.

Understanding Unconscious Bias

To understand the argument for using robots in interviews, first, let’s look at unconscious bias and how it happens.

In recruitment, unconscious bias is the factors that influence your decision without realising it, using criteria irrelevant to the job. For instance, unconscious bias may occur when you form a judgement about a candidate based solely on your first impressions. Even in the early stages of hiring, a candidate’s resume photo, name, gender, or their hometown could affect your opinion more than you think.

Overcoming biases can be tough for recruiters as the first impressions and gut feelings count so much during interviews. However, unconscious bias can result in unfair judgments, overlooked talent, and ultimately, discrimination.

RELATED: 9 Types of Bias That Affects Recruitment

Will robot interviewers mitigate unconscious bias?

Robots designed specifically for recruitment are generally much better than humans at making unbiased hiring decisions.

Since late 2018, Swedish recruitment agency named TNG has been using an AI-driven robot head called Tengai to conduct early-stage interviews in place of human recruiters. Tengai assesses soft skills and personality traits through blind interviews, without being influenced by any biases. This experiment has shown a positive result of this social AI robot reducing discrimination, rather than amplifying it.

Pros and cons of robotics and AI-driven recruitment

There are strong reservations that still exist with regards to the use of AI to make hiring judgments. You may wonder ‘how much can we trust these robots?’

Technology experts point out that humans aren’t great judges of character or ability because we are all affected by unconscious bias. In fact, numerous studies have proved that there is little to no effect on the training which aims to minimise unconscious bias in the workplace. On the other hand, robots do not know anything about the candidate’s age, race, religion, gender, appearance, or other factors that commonly give rise to unconscious bias. Robots will skip small talks and get straight to work-related questions, in the same tone, in the same order. It ensures each candidate an opportunity for fair and consistent assessment.

However, solely relying on AI-driven judgments can also be dangerous. The underlying algorithms of these technologies can be biased from the development stage. Furthermore, the standardisation of the hiring process isn’t perfect either. It prevents the natural flow of a typical human conversation. For example, interviewers sometimes want to go back to what a candidate mentioned before. If they feel the information is highly relevant to the role, they may ask the candidate to elaborate on their answer. However, pre-programmed interviews may not be able to detect those relevancies, which can cause unintended omissions in candidates’ responses.

Candidate experience and employer branding

Automation is the way forward in the recruitment space, and we can see some clear advantages to incorporating robots and AI. However, we should be mindful that reducing human touch in hiring processes could risk your employer brand. 

Although AI plays a huge part in automation and creating efficiencies in the hiring process, the human connection still plays an incredibly important role in creating authentic relationships.
– Mike Keating, Co-founder at attract.ai 

Are all your candidates going to like being interviewed by a robot? Probably not. For some candidates, it may feel cold and intimidating to be processed by a machine. We cannot forget the fact that searching for a new job is an emotional journey for candidates. If your hiring process becomes less emotional and engaging, it may cause significant damage to your employer brand. Of course, there will be others who will happily embrace new technologies, but it may polarise candidate opinions. Hence, it is essential to measure the risk/benefit ratio, which will vary widely from business to business.

TalentVine – The Trusted Recruitment Marketplace

If you’d like to discuss your current hiring processes, we are always happy to help. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the TalentVine team – you can connect with any of our 300+ specialist recruitment agencies.

Recruitment Trends for 2020 Backed by StatisticsMeet Eythain: TalentVine Feb 2020's Recruiter of the Month

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