Artificial intelligence can now reject CVs and measure candidates' skills

Photo: Drew Graham / Unsplash (CC)
Roser Reyner
Its use is still limited to large companies, but experts claim that it will end up being used in many areas of Human Resources

Can a machine measure empathy, emotional state or the analytical capacity of job candidates? Can it reject or select their CVs based on criteria established by the company? The answers to these questions may soon be yes: artificial intelligence (AI) is coming and will be here to stay in Human Resources departments.  However, it is a revolution that is “still in its early stages and limited to large companies”, explains Pilar Ficapal, director of the UOC Master’s Degree in Human Resources Management.

According to a study commissioned last year using data from 250 Spanish companies, only 23% say that they have worked on the digital transformation of their Human Resources departments.  Another report published in 2017, which analysed over 300 companies in Spain and Latin America, revealed that on average they allocate only 1.5% of their technology budgets on solutions for these departments.

However, there is no turning back. “Different technological waves have modified the productive and organizational processes of companies; however, the transformative capacity of the current digital wave, unlike previous ones, is defined by the interconnection between consumers, companies, products and machines”, Ficapal points out. “Activities associated with different occupations could be automated, and the most striking aspect is that this automation affects not only less complex tasks, but also more sophisticated knowledge tasks”, the UOC expert adds.

This is the case with candidate recruitment in Human Resources departments.  Among the companies that are beginning to apply artificial intelligence in this area is the IHG hotel chain, which has around five thousand hotels and is conducting an experiment with the British company Cognisess, with team that includes technologists and neuroscientists. The aim is to produce a machine that can predict which candidates will perform better. The machine, which uses so-called deep learning, will be told what the most desirable characteristics are, using a model based on the personality of young IHG employees with the most talent.  This is explained in an article published in the Financial Times, and the experiment is currently being reproduced by Fundaci Factor Hum. The results of the experiment are expected to be revealed this year.

Filtering CVs and preventing bias

Work is also being carried out to determine up to what point artificial intelligence can quickly and adequately filter hundreds or thousands of CVs, or replace professionals who select candidates in preliminary interviews, in order to prevent human bias.

In this regard, the Unilever company announced just under a year ago that it is starting to introduce digital recruitment in a recruitment process in Spain. In this process, the candidates complete a series of online games in order for the machine to produce a profile that takes various characteristics into account, ranging from empathy to analytical capacity. Afterwards, the company asks them to record a video responding to a series of questions which the AI will evaluate. The last-remaining candidates will not interact with humans until the end of the process.

Specifically, the North American company HireVue is analysing factors ranging from fluctuations in face temperature to the words used by candidates who record videos for job interviews, a representative of this company explained in an article published recently. The aim: to evaluate what they say and how they say it and to choose the best candidates for each company, while trying to avoid bias. To achieve this, the company uses machine learning, a system which could even learn how to avoid bias, according to research published last year in the prestigious scientific journal Science.

Uses in human resources beyond recruitment processes

However, the digital transformation of Human Resources departments goes beyond the recruitment of personnel. “AI is also being incorporated in other people management functions, such as automatic negotiation (hagglebots), conversational robots to improve communication, organization and training (chatbots) or digital assistants, to resolve administration-related issues”, Pilar Ficapal explains. In short, she says, the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in Human Resources departments could “favour the access, dissemination, use and sharing of knowledge to develop and enrich all employees”.

However, the UOC expert points out that the technology-based innovation operates at a faster rate than most organizations can cope with. For this reason, Ficapal agrees with the advice given by Gartner Consulting in a recently-published forecast: “The digital strategies of the company need to be adapted to develop at a reasonable rate of adoption”, she says. “Other researchers have also expressed themselves along the same lines, considering that the rate of change in the world may have exceeded the speed at which the human brain can process such changes”, she concludes.