In 2019 the Harvard Business Review asked: Should HR teams use AI to assess candidates? With the notion that algorithms could be less biased and more structured in decision-making than humans, the answer was a cautious yes. Fast forward four years, and 73% of HR teams surveyed by Eightfold AI are going ahead with AI for recruiting and hiring. The use of artificial intelligence within candidate assessments is not a future trend anymore as it seemed just a few years ago, it’s well within reach and being used by the HR masses.

Candidate Assessments: Standard Vs. AI-Powered

The difference between a candidate assessment and an AI-candidate assessment is that one is manual and the other isn’t, although both are attempting to determine the suitability of a candidate for a given role. To fully unpack these concepts, let’s take a couple steps back and look at some basic definitions. A candidate assessment can be defined as follows:

“A process whereby a potential employer evaluates the skills, experience, and qualifications of a job candidate. This assessment may take the form of an interview, a written examination or a work sample test.”

Candidate assessments are typically conducted by a person, whereas those driven by AI are facilitated by a person but analyzed by an algorithm. An AI candidate assessment is defined as an assessment solution that uses:

“[G]amification, skills testing, and behavioral assessments to efficiently measure candidate competency and personality traits. AI algorithms analyze the data generated by these comprehensive assessments to provide an in-depth report on a candidate’s strengths, weaknesses, personality traits, social skills, and cultural fit.”

The ability to automatically measure candidates as described above makes a lot of sense. HR teams can get insights about candidate skills and detailed analyses about their responses for example that they may otherwise not have had access to. Data like this can lead to better hiring decisions. And, from skill assessments to culture fit evaluations, there are plenty of customizable AI assessment tools to choose from! Let’s take a closer look at why AI should be used in candidate assessments and when it makes the most sense to leverage this technology.

Here’s Why AI Works for Assessments

The process any organization takes to hire takes time. As Jobylon explains, the recruitment and talent acquisition process – everything from sourcing candidates to screening them, interviewing them and more – is both resource and time consuming, not to mention any challenges bound to arise. Automating these processes gives hiring teams the gift of time, efficiency and even greater depth or accuracy in their hiring process results.

Consider that as many as 75% of HR Managers have caught a lie on a resume before. Existing and manual methods of screening and assessing candidates are failing HR teams from the get go. Adding AI allows hiring teams to move beyond resumes to accurately assess if candidates are the right fit for the job.

In addition, AI also “democratizes the hiring process.” Hey Milo explains, by giving candidates who may otherwise have been overlooked a fairer chance of being hired. They say most screening software built into ATS systems use keywords and rigid criteria to filter candidates, whereas “AI agents disrupt this pattern by offering technical screening, allowing candidates to showcase their skills and talents beyond the limitations of automated keyword filters. When more candidates are afforded the chance to exhibit their abilities and engage in interviews, the candidate pool grows, ultimately enhancing the quality of hires.”

There are plenty of benefits AI offers to candidate assessments and the HR teams that require these tools. These perks vary depending on the type of system being used.

The Benefits of AI in Assessments

AI applied to almost any industry will add speed and efficiency to the tasks the technology is being applied to. That speed grants hiring teams the ability to find the best candidates faster, while taking repetitive tasks out of their hands so they can allocate time to more valuable tasks like strategic planning.

Additionally AI technologies can “provide data-driven insights and recommendations so managers can make informed decisions.” What’s even more powerful about these decisions is that AI can remove any element of prejudice and bias from this process by being blind to candidates’ physical or educational traits for example and focusing only on performance indicators.

The high-level benefits of AI for candidate assessments can be summarized as follows:

  • Automated manual hiring tasks (efficiency, time savings, more productivity)
  • Reduced time to hire (automating tasks like resume parsing, screening and interviewing saves time)
  • Reduced cost of hiring from time savings and potentially better results (higher candidate engagement rates and increased accuracy in analysis)
  • Improved recruiter and candidate experience from more accurate and less time consuming processes
  • Reduced unconscious bias

These benefits are broad, and typical for AI innovation improvements. Depending on the specific application of the technology the benefits could be further reaching. The following use cases demonstrate how AI can benefit different parts of the candidate screening and assessment process:

  • Streamlined assessments
  • Identifying unconventional credentials
  • Completing technical pre-screening
  • Improved candidate matchmaking
  • Improved candidate evaluation

Merit HR adds anonymized screening, Hey Milo adds voice agents and Grit Search adds background and reference checks to the list of use cases above for AI within candidate assessments – each one with its own unique benefits to the HR teams using them and their particular processes.

When Hiring Teams Should Use AI Technology in Assessments

Here’s the thing. AI isn’t actually new in the world of assessments and if you’re asking yourself if you should use AI, you may already be! According to Aon, AI has been used within talent assessments since the 1990s when paper-based tests became computerized with automated scores and interpretive reports. Things have evolved drastically since then.

We know that there are at least 160 AI-powered HR tools in use today. If you have a specific purpose or problem you’re trying to solve, and an AI tool exists to solve it, it’s likely best to just buy that tool to do the job if your team is ready.

The short answer is now is the best time to start using AI within candidate assessments if you’re not already – not only has it been working for decades already in this department, there are so many solutions available to offer HR teams those plentiful benefits listed above.

Automated assessments become essential as the scale of hiring increases. For example, according to the  Washington Post, “Work experts say employers mostly use the technology for openings that draw large numbers of candidates or to help fill hundreds of jobs at a time.” Any team involved in high-volume recruitment and talent acquisition stands to gain more from the implementation of AI technology in their candidate assessment processes.

Getting a Handle on AI and Assessments for the Better

There are a number of reasons why adding AI into the candidate assessment process makes sense, not to mention associated benefits alongside all the unique use cases. HR teams can improve their hiring metrics and actually have a better experience along the way.

That said, AI systems are not without their challenges like the defensibility of the system’s decisions or the handling of data for example. HR teams need to look for tools that will offer them a pilot for free so they can get a good sense of the system without taking the risks first.

And while implementing AI into assessments removes human tasks from the process, it could also make hiring more human by allowing more time for empathizing and listening to candidates. AI candidate assessments are tools designed to improve the lives of the humans behind the HR teams using them, like so many who are already living those benefits.

Stephane Rivard

Stephane Rivard is the Co-founder and CEO of HiringBranch and a lifelong entrepreneur. He believes the future of talent acquisition is “interviewless,” and he’s been featured on a number of prominent HR outlets explaining why AI is the most accurate way to evaluate soft skills. His top soft skills include problem-solving, rapport, curiosity, and divergent thinking. When he’s not traveling for work, you’ll find Stephane hanging out with his family, playing chess, running, skiing, mountain biking, sailing, or just walking his dog named Finnigan.


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