I’ve applied for a few jobs in my time – no doubt you have too. For me, one of tasks that makes the job application process irksome and stressful is creating or updating my curriculum vitae, or CV for short.
So it was with interest that I happened to listen to Radio National’s podcast “This Working Life” episode called “The CV is dead – How AI is transforming recruitment”.
I’ll get to the subject of the podcast in a minute, but it probably pays to explain why my interest was piqued by the podcast. Apart from my previously mentioned aversion to working on my CV, I’ve always been intrigued by practical applications of automation and artificial intelligence. And I learned that they aren’t the same thing.
In fact, it turns out that automation is the Model T Ford of technology compared to the Tesla that is artificial intelligence. In the podcast, Charles Cameron (CEO of the Recruitment, Consulting and Staffing Association) talks about how AI can make the recruitment process more efficient. He identifies the removal of humans from the recruitment administration process as a goal – humans are costly, and prone to bias. Feeling nervous?
Professor Andreas Leibrandt from Monash University did some research on the applicant’s experience in an AI recruitment process. He found some interesting things: that “women felt much more encouraged to go through the process and apply for the job as compared to the traditional recruitment process.” After asking why, he found women thought that they had a better shot at getting the position through AI than through a traditional recruitment process.
Even more interestingly, AI recruitment discouraged men to apply, because they thought the process would be biased against them in a male dominated field.
The presenter then spoke to Barb Hyman – CEO of Predictive Hire (now known as Sapia.ai). Now this is where it got all cyberpunk – here was a company offering others the opportunity to use AI to run a recruitment process.
Barb had some very interesting things to say around using AI for recruitment, and the use of chat bots to ask questions of applicants that replaces a traditional CV. Phai, their sophisticated chat bot, is apparently constantly learning to read or listen to applicants 24/7 and is learning how to use language data to choose candidates based on behavioural traits, personality and communication skills. Phai also judges each applicant also provides feedback based on the Hexaco inventory. The whole chat process takes about 20 minutes and decisions can be made in a (comparatively short) turn around time compared to traditional recruitment process. We’ve all waited a loooooong time for that call, haven’t we?
And Predictive Hire are confident that Phai can do all this without the inherent biases that humans posses in making these decisions.
Unconscious bias and algorithmic bias are significance issues in many things, including recruitment. Professor Leibrandt went on to explain the considerations around them as well, and I won’t even try to reproduce his expert understanding. Shortest version – bias is everywhere, it needs to be acknowledged and bias should be eliminated as much as possible from decision making for the integrity of any selection process.
There wasn’t complete agreement on the perceived lifespan of the CV. “The CV is a proxy for advantage” was certainly a robust take on it. Context is everything, and some occupations may value to presentation of a past employment and capability narrative as part of applying for a role. “A consistent experience, speed and confidence in the process” was also mentioned. This space will be a very interesting one to watch.
So the teacher in me though about the lessons to takeaway from this. What will recruitment look like for our students in the future? Could this type of AI be used in schools for other purposes? Will the use of AI impact the role of teachers and other education work in schools?
Have a listen – it really is a thought provoking 25 minutes.