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AI in Recruitment: A Dual-Edged sword

By Eve Vlemincx.


While I am a fan of the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence (AI), it might appear paradoxical that I approach its application in recruitment with caution. My reservations stem from specific concerns that highlight the delicate equilibrium required when utilizing AI in this vital field.

Here's why:


The shadow of biases:

AI, as an algorithmic system, heavily relies on data for learning. However, this reliance on data introduces a significant risk when it comes to fairness in recruitment. I am not suggesting that humans are less biased than AI, but we cannot disregard AI's potential biases either.


If historical hiring practices carried any biases, AI could inadvertently perpetuate these biases. This implies that candidates who deviate from conventional norms or come from underrepresented backgrounds may face unfair disadvantages.


Consider this scenario: an AI system learns from years of hiring data that favored candidates from specific educational backgrounds or demographic groups. Consequently, it might unintentionally discriminate against highly qualified individuals from different backgrounds.


If we allow AI to make these pivotal decisions without adequate safeguards, we risk overlooking diverse talent.


The pitfalls of keywords:

Another cause for concern arises from AI's heavy reliance on keyword matching during resume screening. How many candidates have mastered the art of keyword optimization in their resumes? It's a skill in itself, often unrelated to the job itself. Consequently, individuals with the skills and potential to excel in a role might be unfairly excluded from consideration.


Imagine a gifted software developer whose resume lacks the precise keywords typically associated with the role. An AI system, constrained by strict keyword criteria, could easily miss this candidate's potential to bring innovation and fresh perspectives to the team. In essence, AI, when solely fixated on keywords, might obstruct rather than facilitate the discovery of talent.


The "fit the mold" mentality:

Perhaps one of the most disconcerting aspects of AI-driven recruitment is its tendency to reduce candidates to predetermined criteria. This can stifle innovation and diversity, as AI systems often rigidly adhere to predefined parameters. In doing so, they may inadvertently sideline individuals with unique qualities or unconventional backgrounds that could make substantial contributions to an organization's growth.


Imagine an aspiring manager with an arts background. While their resume might not align with the traditional checklist for managerial roles, their creative thinking and problem-solving skills could prove invaluable in navigating complex challenges. An AI system focused solely on fitting candidates into a predefined mold might overlook this exceptional talent.


Conclusion:

Integrating AI into recruitment can undeniably enhance efficiency, but it must be done thoughtfully. The crux of the matter lies in recognizing both the strengths and limitations of AI. We can achieve this by combining AI's capabilities with human judgment and a steadfast commitment to fairness. In doing so, we establish a recruitment landscape that not only esteems diversity but also recognizes the untapped potential within candidates who don't conform to the conventional mold.


As far as I’m concerned, neglecting to take a human look at every resume that enters an organization means missing the opportunity to hire candidates whose unique qualities and abilities could propel the organization to new heights.

 

About the Author Eve Vlemincx is a strategic advisor with expertise in a wide array of areas including legal digital transformation, innovation and leadership. She serves as an advisory council member for Harvard Business Review and is a Course Facilitator at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Eve is highly sought after as a keynote speaker and guest lecturer in various professional settings. Notably, she has been honored as a five-time recipient of the Stanford GSB LEAD Award.


Operating at the dynamic intersection of legal and business, Eve holds certifications from esteemed institutions such as Oxford, Harvard, Kellogg and Stanford Graduate School of Business. Additionally, she brings substantial experience as a seasoned lawyer specializing in corporate law and restructurings.


Eve's guiding philosophy is centered on working smarter, not harder, as she helps individuals and organizations navigate the complexities of today's rapidly evolving landscape.


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