Some stages and work processes have already been taken over and simplified by machines and robots. We are a large part of the self-service generation, and navigate our everyday lives with Google, apps and bots. Self-learning machines and software programs can use cognitive abilities to store and analyse data in a way which is very similar to human experiences and skills. In its forecasts, Gartner has estimated that all emerging software products and services will contain some form of artificial intelligence by perhaps as early as 2020.
Until now, scenarios where robots and machines replace people have largely been the purview of science-fiction films. With the advancement of artificial intelligence, this has already become the reality in many fields. What is uncertain, however, is the extent to which human intelligence can be entirely replaced. Still, intelligent machines tend to be specialists, rather than generalists. They perform their tasks flawlessly, but have no ability to think outside the box if forced to deviate from their normal mode of operation. Therefore, from a current point of view, it is difficult to program artificial Homo Sapiens without emotional intelligence.
Will we be interviewed by robots in the future?
There are already applications that interview applicants and pre-select suitable candidates as part of the recruiting process, before a ‚real‘ recruiter then takes over the recruitment process. These applications are AI directed. The candidates‘ skills are weighted according to the company’s needs and summarised into a matching list of the most suitable candidates. The more often a skill is mentioned in comparable job advertisements, the higher the market weighting and therefore its impact; the more relevant skills a candidate can demonstrate in their CV and the longer they have had them, the better their matching and therefore their position in the list is.
Such tools can be used to support recruiters in comparing skills and pre-selecting suitable candidates. Nevertheless, it is not (yet) possible for a software application to ask deep, probing questions, and is therefore not possible for it to form that crucial impression of whether social skills have been demonstrated.
The same is true of analysing special skills that candidates often have beyond those mentioned in the CV. From the AI’s perspective, a candidate who occupies a specific position or is responsible for a specific set of tasks can only perform those duties. That their skills and expertise may also qualify them for other tasks and areas of activity can only be identified by human intelligence.
Artificial intelligence in recruiting
The job profiles for suitable specialists and leadership roles are strongly influenced by digitisation. The tasks one person might be expected to do have become much broader. Employees should have a solid grasp of their specialist area, true, but they should also be able to cover and understand other related topics. It is a complicated challenge for any company, regardless of which industry it is in, to recruit suitable candidates.
Well-known companies such as IBM, GE and Hilton use artificial intelligence to identify new talent. Using AI-driven programs, talent can be identified and work patterns can be scanned and analysed. However, personal and interpersonal impressions cannot at present be evaluated by algorithms.
Anyone who has conducted job interviews before knows the personal qualities which candidates reveal, sometimes unwittingly. Sometimes that means a candidate showing a nervous twitch, breaking out in a sweat or rocking restlessly back and forth in their seat. It can also emerge in direct conversation that an applicant has special interests and affinities which provide hidden talents and skills for their role. Such human strengths and weaknesses are not recognised by artificial intelligence.
When filling specialist and executive positions, AI can be instrumental in the process of identifying the hard facts and in pre-selecting suitable candidates. However, Siri, Alexa & Co. are not going to be able to replace humans in the final, crucial skills-based recruiting processes or in the analysis of human personalities, at least not in the forseeable future. From a current perspective, even modern AI applications are wholly out of their depth in this department.
Andreas Wartenberg has been an executive search consultant for nearly 25 years, filling management positions in the technology sector and other industries. Mr. Wartenberg set up and led national and international teams before joining Hager Unternehmensberatung as a Managing Director in 2008. He is a leading topic expert in the DACH region in regards to all aspects of technology management and digitalization within all type of corporations. Since early 2015 the Hager Unternehmensberatung has become a partner of Horton International. Andreas Wartenberg is currently Chairman of the Board at Horton Group International.
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