A hiring interview.
Image: ijeab/Adobe Stock

Generative artificial intelligence touches many aspects of hiring today, from writing job descriptions to filtering applicants. Some chatbots and keyword scanning tools, which have been part of the hiring process for years, can now add generative AI to their tool kits. Conversation is ongoing about government regulation of using AI when choosing who to employ; in particular, New York City, California and Illinois are proposing or initiating regulations about this topic.

Hiring managers and HR departments may need to consider how generative AI could impact bias and equality in their hiring processes and which product would be best to use. Whether you should use generative AI for hiring depends on a combination of factors.

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Can I use generative AI for hiring?

It is possible to use generative AI in the hiring process, and many companies do. In a February 2023 survey from ResumeBuilder.com, 77% of the 1,000 surveyed companies said ChatGPT helps them write job descriptions, 66% use the AI chatbot to draft interview requisitions and 65% use it to respond to applicants.

Chad Sowash, former recruiter and co-host of the HR industry podcast Chad and Cheese, noted that “Companies are throwing job descriptions into ChatGPT and trying to get something that sounds more human. Which is funny! … They’re trying to use ChatGPT to soften it up.”

SEE: Another survey found many Americans do not want AI involved in hiring.

In addition, generative AI can quickly sort through text in order to help handle large volumes of resumes.

“It can help you summarize or analyze large quantities of text if people submit writing samples or some sort of large work product,” said Beth Noveck, director of the Burnes Center for Social Change at Northeastern University and the GovLab, in an interview with TechRepublic. “I think these [generative AI] can make it easier for employers to analyze large amounts of content.”

AI could also be used to flag when a candidate may not be right for the role they applied for but could fit in a different open position at the same company.

How generative AI impacts bias and equality

Hiring managers need to be aware that generative AI can introduce bias, and that the AI’s actions need to be auditable. A high-profile example of this was Amazon, which reduced the use of its AI hiring program in 2018 due to its bias against women. In 2022, Vox acquired documents alleging Amazon used a tool called Automated Applicant Evaluation to perform some recruiters’ tasks.

“Companies should look at quarterly cadences to be sure an Amazon situation doesn’t happen to them,” Sowash said.

Noveck anticipates AI could be trained to reduce bias, such as scanning for inappropriate communication, reporting harassment or removing subtle gender bias in job ads. Some services now offer generative AI training that could help equalize access to education, she said; one example is Khan Academy’s AI tool.

“I believe AI could be much, much less biased than what we’ve had as humans over hundreds of years just through ensuring that our vendors are above board, and that we’re doing the audits with a normal cadence,” Sowash said.

SEE: Skills-first hiring aims to make staffing decisions based on the talent someone actually possesses, not their job title. (TechRepublic)

What do recruiters and hiring managers think about AI for hiring?

The hiring managers we spoke to embraced the use of generative AI in resumes — as long as the information presented is accurate. Noveck cautioned that there are two main dangers when it comes to using AI for hiring: bias and a lack of insight into the decision-making process.

“I could use it to write code to help me screen resumes, [but] I want to be sure as with any tool that I really understand what it’s doing to get the output,” she said. “The danger with these tools is we don’t know how it makes its decision.”

She expects generative AI in hiring to become more accessible for job seekers and hiring managers.

“I think you’re going to see a lot of new products coming out … Even if it’s basically just a brand name and a wrapper stuck around what is essentially ChatGPT, we’re going to see people training specific models that are, for example, designed to help you with your interview process.”

Overall, Sowash said, “The thing that’s incredibly important for all the companies out there is to understand that just as all ATS are not created equal, all these [generative AI] products are not created equal.”

Sowash noted that parsing and contextualizing systems have been used in hiring for years. Textkernel, for example, offers chatbots and staffing automation that include modern generative AI but that also build on tech that has been used to scan resumes for decades.

Other hiring software companies, like Paradox and Talkpush, also offer conversational AI for staffing.

Sowash described a “black hole” into which resumes can fall when recruiters have too many applicants. He said that AI might be able to solve that problem.

“When you add gen AI into this and take away the ‘adminis-trivia’ [trivial administrative work] from a recruiter, you give time back to the recruiter, and they can provide white glove human interactions,” he said.

“I do believe this is a great opportunity for our [recruiting] industry to be more human,” he said.

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