Artificial intelligence can take over many functions of the screening process to relieve recruiters of some of their workload. In addition to freeing up their time, it can save an organization money and potentially select better candidates. However, ethical and legal concerns may not make it worth it despite its benefits. Should you use AI-powered candidate screening in recruiting?

How Can You Use AI in the Screening Process?

Artificial intelligence (AI) can operate with little human support to screen candidates. Recruiters can use it to automatically look through resumes, assess applicant qualifications, direct interviews or choose the best person for the role.

There are four main ways you can use AI-powered candidate screening:

  • Review resumes: AI can review massive amounts of data to handle reviewing resumes. It can scan them for keywords and detect relevant information to inform recruiters of good potential hires.
  • Evaluate candidates: AI can recognize patterns and evaluate candidates based on their qualifications. It goes beyond simply filtering resumes since you can train it to make decisions.
  • Conduct screening interviews: Many AIs can mimic human language and process data quickly, so they can conduct screening interviews. For example, ChatGPT can virtually interact with applicants in real-time, providing immediate feedback to recruiters.
  • Select candidates: Some AIs can make decisions through pattern recognition and analysis. With enough data, they can assist recruiters in candidate selection because they can make informed choices based on factors that may not be apparent to humans.

The screening process involves a lot of tedious work, so most companies use AI as support to handle such tasks. After the initial training period, it can take over many aspects of the process and run with little to no human interaction.

You must thoroughly train the algorithm before you implement it so it can accurately carry out its purpose. Model tuning is an essential part of the training process for machine learning, so your AI will require a lot of computing power. It can be time-consuming, but the result is an efficient tool capable of screening candidates for you.

Pros of Screening Candidates With AI

Evaluating every applicant is often time-consuming, so using a tool that drastically increases their free time can be beneficial. It can streamline the process and produce better results while remaining affordable.

1. Increased Efficiency

Recruiters spend up to 23 hours screening candidates on average, which is why around 52% of them state it’s the most challenging part of their job. Reviewing resumes, evaluating potential hires and selecting the best one is typically time-consuming, but AI can automate most aspects. For example, recruiters can use it to narrow down resumes to only qualified candidates.

2. More Affordable

The tool is typically affordable, but savings usually come from increased productivity. Employees spend less time on tedious tasks like reviewing resumes, which lets them focus on more important things.

They get more done with more free time, which can translate to a more affordable business model. Some companies reported a 75% reduction in screening expenses per candidate after implementing AI-powered recruiting software.

3. Better Results

A job posting receives around 250 resumes on average, with as much as 88% of applicants being unqualified. AI can provide better results by extracting only qualified individuals from a pile of resumes.

It can analyze the language and specific words in their resume or cover letter to understand their qualifications. You can instruct it to only search for specific skill sets or experience and filter out the rest, which leads to better options.

4. Reduced Human Bias

Despite most recruiters trying to stay impartial, everyone has some bias. During the screening process, they may subconsciously judge someone based on their appearance or personality rather than their qualifications. Unintentional prejudice can lead to qualified candidates being disregarded.

AI can eliminate such issues because it relies purely on data and doesn’t make inferences based on its own opinion. Many recruiters feel optimistic about its applications, with nearly 68% agreeing AI will reduce human bias in the recruitment process.

Cons of Screening Candidates With AI

While there are many benefits to using AI-powered candidate screening, nothing is perfect. The cons arguably don’t outweigh the pros, but it might not be worth it for some organizations. Algorithms are prone to unique biases and errors that could disqualify great applicants or lead to noncompliance issues.

1. Algorithmic Bias

Typically, most algorithms are black box AI, which means humans can’t determine how it reasons or comes to its conclusions. You can give it metrics and tell it how to operate, but you’re still essentially blind to how it works. It might make decisions based on patterns you didn’t intend for, meaning the results may be biased.

AI typically produced biased results based on errors during training. For example, Amazon input a decade of its hiring information into an algorithm thinking it would streamline its hiring process, but it ended up discriminating against women since fewer women had been hired in the past. An algorithmic bias can quietly disregard qualified candidates.

2. Overlooked Candidates

Although it’s a relatively minor issue, AI can’t reason as humans do. While the technology has made incredible improvements, it’s still simply artificial intelligence, not true intelligence. When reviewing resumes, it might disregard candidates that are completely qualified simply because the language in their paperwork doesn’t align with its reasoning.

It may overlook potential hires if they use odd language, or have uncommon skillsets or characteristics. Recruiters can usually see the connection of unique abilities to the role they’re screening for, but AI might not be able to.

3. Potential Noncompliance Issues

Potential noncompliance issues arise from using AI in the screening process because it may contain bias. Although it’s usually because it trained on prejudiced information or made minor errors in pattern recognition, that doesn’t stop discrimination lawsuits from being brought forth.

The government is stepping in, as they’re concerned about how it affects compliance. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission warns employers risk violating federal law when using AI because it might unfairly discriminate against applicants with disabilities. Organizations should strongly consider the possibility of fines and legal repercussions before implementing it in the screening process.

Is Using AI to Screen Candidates Ethical?

It’s challenging to definitively say if using AI-powered candidate screening in recruitment is ethical because there are a lot of variables to consider. For example, while it may unfairly judge applicants based on data, it removes most human bias from the process. With proper training and testing, it can evaluate and select candidates better than humans.

That said, there’s no way to eliminate all bias and potential errors from its algorithm entirely. Although there’s general uncertainty around the ethics of AI screening, it may be beneficial. Recruiters might take more care when training and using it to ensure fairness.

Using AI-Powered Candidate Screening in Recruiting

Although there are some ethical issues surrounding bias and discrimination, the same problems exist without AI. It has flaws but provides many benefits that appeal to many recruiters. Still, each organization should weigh the pros and cons before deciding.

Zac Amos

Zac Amos is the Features Editor at ReHack, where he covers business technology, cybersecurity, and other trending tech topics. For more of his work, follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.