Towards best practice for AI in recruitment

A study has found concerns about the increasing use of AI in the recruitment process. How can we improve it and ensure it doesn’t feel too inhuman?

person with anxiety disorder mental health illness, headache and migraine sitting on laptop computer desk


The Institute for Employment Studies issued a new toolkit yesterday to help demystify the rising use of artificial intelligence in job interviews in the form of asynchronous video interviews [AVIs]. These have the benefit of being able to take place at any time, anywhere and have grown in popularity due to the pandemic. AVIs use AI to schedule, track, conduct and assess interviews. Advocates of AVIs say they reduce bias and help employers with shortlisting.

However, there is concern about a lack of information about how they work. The toolkit is aimed at young people and follows in-depth studies by the IES with young jobseeking students. While you might think that young people would be best equipped to grapple with technology, they also have the least experience of the world of work which can put them at a disadvantage.

The IES’ research found young people often had a poor understanding of how the new interview format worked and of the technology itself.

Four core concerns were feelings of diminished humanity, with jobseekers believing they needed to perform in a rigid way almost like robots; lack of understanding, for instance, of how they would be assessed with some thinking face recognition might be involved; glorification of AI technology as superior to human-based decisions; and feeling emotionally and cognitively exhausted from behaving in an unnatural way that they thought satisfied the bot.

The IES says the toolkit will help young people prepare and understand better how the AI works.

It’s not just young people who need support, however. Most people are not used to being assessed by a bot and we know that, while some bias may be reduced, AI does not eradicate it completely because AI is programmed by humans. Indeed, AI can make bias systematic.

Many older people struggle with the way technology has influenced the jobseeking experience, from ATS systems that expel you if you deviate from the standard keywords to interviews. Returners and anyone with a non-conventional career path or career gaps can be chucked out of the process depending on how the parameters are set up. AI is relatively in its early days and best practice has yet to be developed to enable it to run better and to ensure it doesn’t overlook or restrict good candidates. It is also important to have some human oversight of the process, which is why there is more emphasis on upskilling HR teams and in new roles such as those dealing with Human-AI Interaction.

We know how frustrating it is to go online and get a chatbot which cannot answer our questions or to ring the local council only to be met by an array of ‘options’, none of which lead to an actual human. AI can definitely be useful, but the human element of HR is also vital.

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