You may worry that robots are going to steal your job. But an interview with a robot might actually be the key to landing your next dream job. Robots are conducting AI interviews to screen applicants at some companies — and the technology is starting to take hold.
Hiring executives already say the resume is becoming less important. At San Jose-based Juji, CEO Michelle Zhou doesn’t look at resumes at all. Instead, artificial intelligence (AI) assistants conduct a first-round interview for every candidate. The AI then automatically infers each candidate’s personality profile and work DNA. And it does all of this in just one hour, on average.
Why? An AI interview has the potential to eliminate bias and human error. Resumes are no longer ignored because they lack the correct keywords. AI could lead to a more equitable hiring process and take the guesswork out of hiring the right person.
At a recent Fortune Brainstorm Tech event, Zhou said that AI with a similar personality to a person makes a candidate more open, honest and interactive. You can find more on her personality in AI research here.
How to remove bias in hiring
Traditionally, all steps in the hiring process were performed by people — and people are very biased creatures, said Gershon Goren, CEO of hiring solutions company Cangrade. “It’s not a bug — it’s a feature,” he added. “Throughout human history, bias has helped us make snap decisions about other people and tell a friend from a foe. Just like many other evolutionary advantages in today’s world, it’s now hurting us rather than helping.”
Bias can actually cost your company in revenue and talent. And with the Great Resignation and quiet quitting causing shock waves in the workforce recently, you can’t afford to have biased interviews.
Sometimes, “you find out more about the interviewer than the interviewee” in the hiring process, said Robert Savette, co-founder of hiring technology company Almas Insight. For example, an older interviewer who hates tattoos might not have the best interview with a young candidate with tattoos. In an AI interview, a candidate’s appearance (and presence of tattoos) isn’t even registered as part of the equation.
Eliminating bias leads to more diversity across the company. And that’s good for business, according to Catalyst, a nonprofit that helps build equitable workplaces. Here’s what Catalyst found:
- Companies with higher diversity in management reported 38% more revenue, on average
- Companies with inclusive business cultures and policies report:
- 59.1% increase in creativity, innovation, and openness
- 37.9% better assessment of consumer interest and demand
- A 10% increase in perceptions of inclusion improves absenteeism, adding nearly one day a year in work attendance per employee
- Companies with with hiring practices that focus on gender diversity are linked to lower levels of employee turnover
Speaking of gender diversity, women are another key piece of business success. Women consistently score higher than men in key competencies, like taking initiative and driving for results. And women-led organizations are more profitable and more innovative.
So how do you remove bias completely? The only viable solution is to use ethical and bias-free automation tools that use data and algorithms to make hiring recommendations, said Goren. But a lot of AI tools in use today are not bias-free. ”They codify the existing biases into algorithms while removing any individual responsibility for these biases,” he added. “That is why anyone who is looking into using AI for hiring must pay special attention to the ethics behind it, and how it guarantees bias protection.”
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Diverse groups make better decisions
As we face a potential economic downturn, making the right decisions for your company will be crucial. And removing bias from those decisions will be key. Cloverpop, a decision-making database, analyzed 600 business decisions made by 200 business teams in a wide variety of companies over two years. What it found was that:
- Inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time
- Teams that follow an inclusive process make decisions two times faster with half the meetings
- Decisions made and executed by diverse teams delivered 60% better results
- Teams outperform individual decision makers 66% of the time
During the Great Recession, from 2006-2014, companies with consistent, inclusive workplace cultures outperformed the S&P 500 in average annual stock returns.
The risk of inaction is incredibly high. Savette said that he rarely sees companies with less than a 35% attrition rate. That’s the rate at which employees leave a company. Sometimes, that rate climbs to 50% over a period of six to 12 months. “That’s half the people,” he added. “It’s a new company. Doing nothing is suicide. And it’s not the worst employees that leave first, it’s the best.”
High turnover, a disconnect between leaders and employees, and a poor employee experience is costly. Studies show that replacing an employee can cost up to 200% of their salary.
How to hire the right person for the right job
Now that we know bias must be removed from the interview process — and all decisions, for that matter — we can get to the fun part. The pandemic and rising employee expectations have opened the door for a more flexible future of work. Some jobs can now be done from anywhere, which gives companies the freedom to hire whoever they want. They can literally cast a global net and find the exact right candidate.
But how do you find that unicorn? Josh Gray, Salesforce’s senior director of employee experience, recently said that “the solution has always been to understand who people are, what they need, and how we can meet those needs. How do we understand and provide that delightful employee experience as they’re moving along each stage of their career journey?”
The number one cause when new hires don’t work out is not whether they could use that tool or knew that piece of software, Savette said. “It was were they the right fit, were they a person who is well suited to customer service or that kind of work,” he added.
The solution in this case could be an AI interview that reveals exactly who that candidate is, what they need, and where they might fit best within a company. You essentially have a cheat sheet for success for each new employee. Even if that candidate is not right for your open position, they might be a great fit for a different role, or one that is not even created yet.
Don’t take our word for it. Cangrade shared these results from a global insurance company that is using their AI service:
- Sales representatives identified by AI as “high fit candidates” increased new premiums by 38% (vs average)
- Client managers identified by AI as “high fit employees” outperform their peers by 83% in premium re-enrollment
You can use data after the AI interview, too
The AI results can be valuable long after the candidate is hired. The data can help you create the best environment for each individual. Make sure your employees are in the right role and are growing towards their goals.
“In the hiring world, we need new data,” said Savette. “We need additional data. It’s not that the existing data is bad. It’s great to know that if somebody’s going to be hired to use a certain kind of software, they know how to use that software. But we also need to augment that with data about their human capabilities.”
Pay attention to what AI can report back on soft skills and emotional intelligence. Why are those important? Because emotional intelligence can increase customer loyalty and soft skills are now considered essential in accelerating your career.
“Soft skills are much stronger predictors of job performance than any other tool, including hard skills,” said Goren. “There is no question that the availability of the necessary hard skills in your hires will make the process faster, but the long-term performance and retention will be decided by soft skills.”
The chats with AI can continue after the interview as well. If employees feel like they’re talking with a trusted friend, they will be more honest and open. Feedback is a gift, so open that box and carry it into the future of work.
Savette offers this advice: “Test existing employees to discover your own culture. People think they know their culture, but they don’t.”
Oh, and one more piece of advice. Be sure to create a position for an AI supervisor. Someone needs to keep teaching and training the AI. You can thank us later!
Be the change
Tune into Dreamforce on demand to hear from Bill Westrate, CEO, American Family Insurance; Sarah Friar, CEO, Nextdoor; and Rich Paul, CEO and Founder, Klutch Sports Group, about how they view business as a platform for change.