When the artificial intelligence research lab OpenAI made ChatGPT publicly available last November, it immediately became a global sensation. The platform’s ability to provide creative and seemingly organic answers to a vast array of questions has captivated millions of users and raised questions about the implications of the technology for a wide range of industries – particularly those that employ knowledge workers.
And, recruiting is no exception – from creating interview questions and job ad templates to following up with candidates, ChatGPT has many potential applications in the field. However, it would be a mistake to treat the technology as a silver bullet. Seriously!
ChatGPT is undeniably impressive as a dynamic language model, but it also has a habit of getting basic questions wrong, providing nonsensical interpretations, and presenting these mistakes in a convincing way to users who aren’t familiar with the subject matter at all. Don’t believe me? Just go down a reddit hole.
Now, don’t get me wrong. These problems certainly don’t make ChatGPT useless for recruiters, but they provide ample cause for caution. ChatGPT can complement the recruiting process in many ways, but hiring professionals need to figure out how to integrate it without relying on it. As AI rapidly becomes more powerful, recruiters will have to continually reassess which AI-powered tools they’re using and how to fully leverage those tools without taking unnecessary risks.
The Shift Toward AI in Recruiting
Recruiters were focused on the role of AI in their field long before the arrival of ChatGPT. AI has the potential to help recruiters source talent, reduce hiring mistakes, improve diversity, and accomplish many other goals. For example, at a time when the labor market remains hot and companies are finding it difficult to fill open roles, AI-powered talent rediscovery can give them a competitive edge by quickly searching through and surfacing previous applicants who meet a specific set of hiring criteria.
An Oracle survey found that significant majorities of HR professionals would like to use AI for many elements of talent acquisition: identifying candidates with the right competencies (66 percent), spending less time sifting through resumes (64 percent), filling open positions more quickly (58 percent), and improving the candidate experience (55 percent). The same survey found that HR professionals expected to use AI much more heavily in the coming years, though just 12 percent strongly agreed that they’re knowledgeable about using AI for talent acquisition.
As recruiters cast increasingly wide nets in search of talent and remote platforms make it easier to hire and onboard employees from anywhere in the world, AI will play a larger role in all aspects of talent acquisition. Still, there are good reasons why this role will likely continue to be supplemental rather than central to the most effective recruitment strategies.
The Liabilities of ChatGPT
Consider one of the most commonly-cited problems with ChatGPT as it currently exists: its answers are often incorrect. There are proliferating accounts of how ChatGPT misstates historical facts, makes programming mistakes, and even gets basic arithmetic wrong. This problem isn’t limited to ChatGPT – Alphabet shares recently plummeted when Google’s new Bard chatbot presented inaccurate information in a high-profile ad. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s new Bing chatbot (powered by OpenAI software) has proven to be bizarrely moody, frequently and stubbornly incorrect, and even emotionally manipulative.
Although ChatGPT is a powerful platform that offers a glimpse into the future of AI-enabled work, its tendency to make mistakes should be a big red flag for recruiters. For example, recruiters may attempt to answer candidate questions more efficiently with ChatGPT and end up providing erroneous information. This is particularly problematic when it comes to issues around diversity and inclusion, disabilities and accessibility, and compliance with relevant laws and regulations. There are many reports of bias in ChatGPT’s answers, which isn’t surprising as the model is built on real-world associations where biases are pervasive.
ChatGPT will continue to improve, and there are plenty of ways for recruiters to use the technology productively. But this should always be done with the full awareness of the platform’s shortcomings and the risks of over-reliance on AI in the hiring process.
Taking full advantage of ChatGPT and other AI platforms
ChatGPT is among the most powerful language models and information aggregators available, and its reach is growing all the time. As the platform continues to gather data from millions of users (and now that Microsoft is incorporating ChatGPT into Bing), we should expect to see the amount and quality of information increase along with the number of users. Meanwhile, other major companies, startups, and labs will pursue their own generative language models.
How can recruiters benefit from these developments? ChatGPT is capable of providing job descriptions, candidate pitches, and interview questions. It can create boolean strings to help recruiters widen or narrow their search parameters. It can immediately generate overviews of market research. However, beyond the fact that recruiters should be wary of many of ChatGPT’s “answers” for the reasons outlined above (bias, unreliability, etc.), they should also use the platform as more of a jumping-off point than as an end in itself.
Recruiters are still the ones who know what type of culture they’re trying to build, what unique advantages and constraints their companies face, and what they’re looking for in a candidate. These are all reasons they should remember that, while ChatGPT offers an answer for certain recruiting challenges, it isn’t the answer.
Matt Ekstrom is a long-time veteran of the HR and TA tech space. A former co-founder of several companies including HiringSolved, he's an in-house expert for effective branding and growth strategies in the industry. Wanna talk shop? Drop him a note. Matt's always game to talk about the recruiting and HR tech space or creative marketing campaigns.
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