Unlikely Allies: Artificial Intelligence in Talent Recruitment

Since the launch of Chat GPT and other AI-powered chatbots, thousands of people have flocked to these platforms to assess their ability to maintain conversations, write essays, answer exam questions and even complete work assignments. The AI’s impressive performance has caused sleepless nights for many office-based employees, ranging from marketing and accounting experts to recruitment and HR professionals, who believe that technology could soon replace them in the workplace. However, how concerned should we truly be about Chat GPT and other AI-powered chatbots leading to mass job losses?

It’s difficult to determine exactly how many roles will disappear in each sector, but in recruitment, AI will continue to play a supporting role. Moreover, as Chat GPT and similar technologies become more widely used by candidates to help them complete their entry exams, it will become increasingly difficult for organisations to assess a candidate’s suitability for a role, making a recruiter’s expertise and experience more important than ever.

Best supporting actor

Competition for talent has never been fiercer in the technology, digital assets, data science and finance sectors. For instance, while the number of computer science graduates from top-tier universities such as the University of Oxford has increased by 22.73% between 2019 and 2022, the number of professionals graduating is still not enough to meet the rapidly increasing demand for computer science professionals. Despite this, leading organisations in these sectors have not lowered their standards when it comes to recruitment. Indeed, at Durlston Partners, we often see clients prioritising candidates who participate in ACM-ICPC programme competitions and have maintained high performance throughout their studies.

Tackling this challenge and finding the right candidate would typically require sorting through thousands of CVs. The best recruiters will remember or would have written down insights from previous discussions they had with each candidate in order to find them a position they have the correct skillset to perform at a high level, as well as being a good cultural fit for the company. Searching through CVs and notes about a candidate manually is a highly inefficient process for a recruiter, which is where AI plays a critical supporting role.

AI use in the recruitment space can work similarly to Spotify, which learns about its users’ music tastes from their playlists and recommends songs it thinks they will like. Indeed, some recruiters are increasingly automating the sorting of CVs using AI-based programmes that review thousands of CVs to identify and recommend candidates with the skills and expertise required for a specific role. The AI programmes log key information, including relevant terms and qualifications, to produce a greatly reduced shortlist for each role for the recruiter to assess.

Additionally, the most tech-savvy firms tailor the AI to include information from interviews and other discussions. However, as AI is not able to determine cultural fit or to accurately assess soft skills such as time management, teamwork or communication, the findings from the technology are often used as guidelines. This is why we can expect recruitment to continue to be led by professionals but with the support of these new technologies.

Tackling new challenges

Artificial intelligence is benefiting recruiters in assessing CVs, but it’s also making it more difficult to differentiate between candidates, heightening the skill gap between good and great recruiters. Entrance exams, previously a sure-fire method of assessing a candidate, are now child’s play for AI. GPT-4, OpenAI’s latest model, cannot only pass most of these entrance exams with ease, but it recently landed in the top 10% of all students taking the US Bar Exam. This is raising some problems for traditional recruitment – cheaters are increasingly prospering, which can lead to them landing high-paid roles that they are not suited to or are poorly qualified for.

As such, many employers are either turning to recruiters for support testing candidates or are changing their processes to ensure they can see how people answer questions. For example, some of our clients are now asking candidates to either answer questions orally or to explain the process they’re following as they write down their answers. In many instances, this has changed our role as recruiters because, in order to support our clients, we are now involved in the assessment process more deeply than ever before and asking very technical questions.

As more companies implement similar initiatives, the recruitment sector will need to adapt to meet the needs of clients. This change is likely to lead recruiters to take a more active role in testing candidates, and it wouldn’t be surprising if this results in new roles being created with this sole purpose in mind. Whatever approach is taken, recruitment professionals are not going anywhere.