Much has been made recently of artificial intelligence (AI) taking over all aspects of the hiring process. Recruiters, AI is going to take your job! Chatbots are going to interview and select candidates. Oh my! The industry press is like a digital-age chicken little, proclaiming that the sky is coming down on talent acquisition professionals: you’re going to be replaced by artificial intelligence.
But there’s a key word here that can’t be overlooked. Artificial.
Sure, AI can learn to do a lot of things. It’s designed to replicate human behavior. Human judgment. But there’s that thing. That intangible, unquantifiable element of human perception that can’t be coded.
Call it intuition, or instinct. It’s the way someone looks at you, the way they make you feel. It’s a million different nonverbal cues, things we register consciously but also unconsciously, and most of which we simply couldn’t put a finger on, couldn’t quantify, even if we tried.
Those of us who’ve navigated the treacherous waters of online dating have experienced the shortcomings of AI firsthand. Sure, the dating site algorithms can match you up with someone who may be a good match for you in terms of age, interests, declared values. Everything can seem perfect. Maybe you even have a witty email repartee, prior to meeting. But when you meet in person, all the complex, algorithm-matched prospects can turn out to be not such a great fit, after all.
Like that engineer who told you at length about how he froze gallons of milk when it was on sale, so he didn’t have to go to the store. The investment banker who never looked you in the eye, even once. Or the guy (can’t remember what he did, but he definitely wasn’t a dentist) who told you voluntarily—even proudly–that he only needed to brush his teeth once a day. (Yeah. That was a one-date wonder. And no goodnight kiss there.)
So it’s safe to say that most of us—unless we’re pitching a new reality show—wouldn’t allow AI to decide whom we should marry.And most of us spend more time with the people we work with than our partner. Why then, would we ever allow AI to choose our coworkers?
Just like those online dating hopefuls, sometimes candidates match the job description perfectly. And sometimes, when you interview them, they’re a great cultural fit, too.
But other times… they’re not. Maybe they’re just… odd, in unexpected ways. Sometimes that can be endearing, and fun—the kind of thing that makes us refer to them as eccentric. But a lot of times (probably most often) it may be something less workable. A brusque manner, for example, that could be perceived as rude, and could make them hard to relate to, and polarizing or ineffective in many roles.
Maybe they try to do a magic trick, while interviewing for an executive role, and in addition to seeming really odd and inappropriate, they mess it up (no, the Ace of spades was not my card.) Not someone who’s likely to inspire confidence as a leader. Or maybe they only really engage with the male interviewers, or the female interviewers. Probably not a good fit.
Even with far less important things that don’t entail such a commitment as marriage, or hiring, you’re likely to ultimately want to make your own decision. When Netflix or Amazon tells you what to watch next, do you blindly watch whatever it proposes? (Well, maybe sometimes, depending on how exhausting a week it’s been) But usually, you probably at least read the description first, and maybe watch the trailer. Because you’re going to commit 90-120 minutes of your life to this. Minutes you’re not getting back.
Algorithms like those used in Talent Rediscovery are tremendously valuable. They can save you time by narrowing down that huge pile of resumes to the ones who are the best fit in terms of experience and skill set. They can even infer—yes, they really are pretty smart—things like related experience, beyond just keywords. For example, our algorithms know that someone who lists Apache on their resume also knows Java, even if the latter keyword is missing. While the barista who worked at Java Junction probably isn’t the software engineer you need.
So there’s no question that AI is valuable. And it’s super smart. But as we all know... there are different types of intelligence.
There’s academic intelligence. Emotional intelligence. Practical intelligence (and its close associates, street smarts and common sense.) To name a few. People who are book smart, for example, are sometimes just the opposite when it comes to real-life smart.
Like your college roommate with the genius IQ, who put Dawn in the dishwasher. You had to question just what kind of intelligent she was—and wasn't—as you waded through three feet of bubbles for hours, like we were digging out from some sort of Mr. Bubble blizzard. (Good thing that was before camera phones and YouTube!)
AI might be like that roommate, sometimes. Pretty brilliant and useful in a lot of ways, but maybe less so in others.
They key is to use it for tasks that don’t require that human element. AI is a tool, a technology that can make us more capable, like so many others we use every day.
For example, you’re having a dinner party. You cook, and entertain your guests during the meal. But your particular skills aren’t necessary to wash the dishes. There’s a machine that can do that just fine. (Because I know you have the sense to use proper dishwasher detergent.) Now, your dishwasher is probably a lousy chef. And an even worse dinner companion. But it’s good at its task, and it lets you spend your time on the human stuff, like cooking and spending time with your guests.
Ultimately, AI is job security for recruiters who embrace it, and use it to become even better at their jobs.
Don’t get me wrong—there’s no room for complacence. Simply being human doesn’t automatically make you more valuable than a machine. You need to learn to use AI to your advantage—it’s a tool that will make you more effective and more productive. It will make you an even stronger and more irreplaceable recruiter.