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Artificial Intelligence in Recruiting: How Much Is Too Much?

March 13, 2020
Rhonda Siex
workplace illustration with people holding digital dashboards and sitting around a table

Today, I read an article about the legal risks of using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in recruiting. It's astonishing to learn how quickly using AI in recruiting can go from being a tool of convenience and savings to a villain that creates, and possibly even nurtures, unequal opportunities for talent.

I will admit, I generally have a sunshine and roses view of life, and rarely think about all the ways good tools can be used with ill intent. This is why I like to research and hear more about the ways other people leverage some of the tools on the market.

Think about it: Is Artificial Intelligence really here? More often, it's not really AI, but rather a tool looking for the answers already provided. This is why I love our recruiting tools.

For example:

When posting a job, the requirements may be a four-year degree in a certain area and three years' experience working a particular job. In such a case, the automated recruiting tool can be set to look for these knock-out items. If candidates do not fit the criteria, the recruiting tool eliminates them, so the recruiter saves time reviewing only candidates with the basic qualifications.

However, more sophisticated tools are slowly coming online. These tools are able to use statistics, such as "candidates with an easy commute are more likely to remain as long term employees." This is where the danger zone comes in. While the intent behind such recruiting technology is good — finding candidates who will likely stay — the end result of using such AI tools can be detrimental.

If the more sophisticated system knocks out candidates who are not in the same zip code as your business, the EEOC might consider you to be eliminating entire demographic communities because they don't reside in the selected zip code. In fact, the EEOC is already investigating two cases with similar circumstances.

Currently, there is no federal regulation regarding the use of human resources AI in the interview process. However, Illinois recently passed an AI in Video Interview Act, which lists several rules the employer must follow when incorporating these processes. Think Employee Polygraph Protection Act, but with Big Brother as a factor. Now that the ice is broken in this arena of legislation, you can be certain more states will follow.

Now that my eyes have been opened to some of the pitfalls of using AI in recruitment, I will be keeping an eye out for more of the same. I'd enjoy hearing from you to know if you've learned about similar issues in the hiring arena.

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