Will AI Scare Your Candidates Away?

Annoyed designer gesturing in front of her laptop in her officeIn the recruiting industry, we all know that Artificial Intelligence is becoming more and more commonplace. Whether it is via screening for candidates or phone interviews, innovation is making it easier for recruiters to do their jobs. But, what do the candidates themselves think about organizations using AI to help with recruiting them?

Often, companies get caught up in how AI makes their sourcing activities easier.  They don't  address the comfort candidates may or may not have with the technology. Recruiters know that it can be useful, particularly in the screening process. But, if you are not educated in that knowledge, what would be your initial reaction?

Recently, a friend of mine found out about an exciting opportunity in a field where opportunities are scarce. A couple of weeks later, I texted him asking about the job and how it went. This was his response.

“I didn’t do the interview. They wanted me to have a creepy interview with artificial intelligence that builds a character profile of you. Not just through your answers, but with voice and facial recognition. It creeped me out too much, so I declined.”

So, what it comes down to is this well-educated candidate, who is pursuing his dream job, gave it up very easily because of misgivings surrounding the advanced AI recruitment technology that the prospective employer is using. But, how common is this?

The pervasiveness of automation is an unnerving, sometimes terrifying prospect to many. Will it take away all of our jobs? Will it make it harder to get a job? Will algorithms be the ones making final hiring decisions?

If we take a step back and see what their fear is rooted in, maybe we can get a broader understanding of how to address these candidates, who may have the same reaction as my friend.


Why Candidates are Scared of AI in the Recruiting Process


Fear of Robots

There are many reasons people as a whole are scared of AI. They fear that the computers and automation will take over their jobs and that companies are putting too much trust in them. It doesn't help that big-name leaders in science and technology Alan Turning, Stephan Hawking, and Elon Musk warn about the dangers of getting carried away with what we use AI for.

When AI is mentioned, most people jump to the idea of robots taking over the world. A video, recently released by Boston Dynamics, shows what they call Spot robots pulling a truck. I'm sure there are people in the robotics and technology community who were excited and awed by these robots, but online reactions by the everyday people viewing the footage read very differently. Reactions range from "You want terminators? You've got terminators!" to "The sound of those footsteps will be the last thing you ever hear one day."

The entertainment industry, for decades, has been showing the scenes of robots trying, and sometimes succeeding, in eliminating humans and taking over the world. Though logically, most adults know that to be fantasy. But, it's sometimes a feeling they can't shake when they are greeted at their local grocery store by a helpful robot. Not everyone is educated on the advancement of algorithms and the conversations that are going on around recruiting technology. Being faced with an algorithm-based interview with a computer sometimes make candidates uneasy and mad. It can seem impersonal, insulting, and most of all, nerve-wracking.



If you are a Millennial or Generation Z entering the workforce, you may not have any hesitations with AI-sourced screenings. Generation X and older have not grown up with phones with facial recognition and aren't as eager to trust the sourcing process to algorithms and computers. 

Most reasonable people accept this progress and adapt in their own way. This adaptation is possible mostly because of the disruption caused by automation generally doesn't happen immediately. As things like this become more commonplace, these issues won't be as prevalent because as the next generation comes, they will be so familiar with AI that they won't bat an eye. 


Fear of the Use of Their Personal Information

In the information age, privacy hinges on our ability to control how our data is being stored, modified, and exchanged between different parties. AI has caused significant risks to how that information is used, considering it is only making it faster and more efficient to mine for data. This causes fear in job candidates. If they are involved in an interview process that is using facial recognition, they may have questions on how it will be used, and they may hesitate to participate in an interview that may use technology that can gather such personal data. 


How To Soothe Their Fears

Overall, people don't trust AI just yet. According to a new survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Yoh, 63% of Americans feel that artificial intelligence (AI) will have negative impacts on the workforce. So, of course with that mindset, they won't trust AI to screen them in interviews either. Here are some ways those that work in talent acquisition can soothe their fears.


Don't assume CANDIDATES know about AI and the new screening procedures.

If you are dealing with a distraught candidate who just gave an interview with your new video screening technology, educate them on what they are using in a way that isn't demeaning.  Explain in layman's terms why this particular process is being used and the benefits of this technology in screening candidates. Approach it with a teaching mindset that will make the candidate feel comfortable, informed, and in a way that gains their trust. If they don't trust you and the company, it can impact your company's employer brand and you will lose the candidate before they are even screened. 


Be Transparent About the Safety of their Personal Information

If there is facial recognition software or other tools that will be used during the interview process, make sure you are transparent about the fact that this information will be used for nothing but the screening process. Put together information on the technology BEFORE they use it. And make sure it's in terminology that they can understand, particularly if it isn't a tech role that you are filling.


Convince them that the use of this technology is not as bad as they think

"Perhaps they will have algorithms that can determine human idiosyncrasies in the future but for now I don’t think it’s at that level," explains Tim Dawson, Head of Recruiting at ERG, a Yoh Company. "As far as I am aware, at this point, AI Recruiting is basing their perception of someone solely on a resume, online presence, or available data. My screening and determination of if someone is “good” consists of a gut feeling based on data matching up to their story."

Being clear that this data will be used as only a portion of the full interview process can help candidates to understand that as long as they are honest, they are not losing out at a job opportunity any more than they would be if the screening didn't use the tool at all.


As use of these tools become more commonplace, we may not have to be as worried how candidates will react to the use of AI in the screening process. But, for now, addressing it head on may be the most beneficial strategy to get the top candidates you want, without scaring them away. 



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