Is there space for AI in recruitment?

Featured Image

Often the future of worked is seen as Artificial Intelligence (AI) , however using AI when hiring new talent could be a step in the wrong direction warns Camilla Beamish and Kathryn Rodgers.

The definition of AI is stated as the “theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages”.

Using AI in the workplace has the potential to improve efficiency, productivity and accuracy, whilst empowering employees to have less responsibilities in terms of menial and repetitive tasks in order to focus on the more engaging aspects of their job roles which require thought and emotional intelligence.

One profession and industry that has seen an increase in the use of AI is human resources, specifically in the form of help with recruitment. In a time when hiring top talent is becoming increasingly competitive, recruitment professionals spend a large proportion of time screening numerous CVs to identify the most suitable for the job role.  During this process, which is often quite time consuming, several CVs will be discarded due to lack of experience or skills.

Therefore, in this this instance an effective AI algorithm could effectively search the CVs that have been sent and locate the ones with the appropriate experience and skills, leaving the recruiters with a suitable pool of candidates. This therefore saves the recruitment team time, which can then be reallocated elsewhere. Additionally, certain AI programmes also have the ability to perform screenings on a candidate’s online presence in order to determine suitability to a role.

In theory, the implementation of AI in the recruitment process should help eliminate the concerns of gender, racial and age bias, particularly unconscious bias, which will ultimately achieve more equality and diversity within the workplace. However the use of AI in the recruitment process has not been completely positive for the organisations that are already using it.

In October 2018, according to a report by Reuters, the use of AI by Amazon as a recruitment tool was found to have been assessing candidates in a manner that had bias against women. Amazon’s AI systems had taught itself to downgrade certain applications that included the word ‘women’s’ as well as applications by individuals who had attended all women’s colleges. In an attempt to remove the gender bias within the system, Amazon edited the AI platform but ultimately the hierarchy lost all belief and faith in the system and eventually abandoned it.

The most worrying factor is that at its earliest stage, an AI platform may be found to have in built biases. For example, a machine that has been taught using more photos of light-skinned people than photos of dark-skinned people may result in the machine being less effective in recognising darker-skinned faces. However, it is arguably a fact that AI is only as unbiased as the people who programmed it and inputted data into the platform. Bad data that is inputted can lead to a mixture of racial, gender and other biases which may lead to unsuccessful candidates bringing discrimination claims and companies consequently facing financial loss, as well as reputational damage.

Companies and users of AI in the form of recruitment aids must also be aware of the enhanced protection that GDPR gives people who are subject to automated decision making processes, including profiling, which may have a legal or similarly significant effect on them.

However, in spite of potential pitfalls, employers and companies shouldn’t write off the use of AI completely. The name in itself, AI, means that it has the ability to be taught how to learn and interpret specific data. Therefore, it follows that there are certain ways, if handled and approached correctly, in which bias in AI can be eliminated. However, achieving this will no doubt require human intelligence and time, the very thing that AI is meant to replace.

If you have any queries with regards to the content of this article then please do not hesitate to get into contact with one of the oneHR team members:


Phone: 0845 509 6854

Tweet: @oneHR_

Back to News