Laura Hart November 7, 2023
Anyone who’s been on either side of a job interview in the last year may have found it impossible to overlook certain winds of transformation, driven by the accelerated use of AI in recruiting. Some recruiters don’t even come face-to-face with candidates for screening until a second interview – with an AI taking care of the initial call on their behalf.
AI is transforming virtually every industry in real-time, and talent acquisition is no exception. Whether you’re a candidate competing for a new role, or a recruiter or hiring manager searching for the most promising new hires, you’re likely to encounter AI at least once in your journey. Since the technology is so new, it can be hard to predict whether AI in recruiting is a help or a hindrance.
Here at Nuvalence, our talent acquisition team has been exploring how AI can help us navigate the competitive job market. In this article, I’ll share how I’ve incorporated an AI mindset into my daily work as a recruiter, where it’s helping me to be more productive, and why it’s got me more engaged than ever in my profession.
The AI Mindset Takes A Village
At Nuvalence, we’re extremely fortunate to have Co-Founders and leaders who embody and lead with transparency (it’s one of our five keys to a great company culture). And they’re transparent about our firm being all-in on AI. Not just because it’s an exciting new technology, but because it’s becoming a strategic imperative for our business and our clients’ businesses, so it’s crucial for us to understand and embrace it.
Earlier this year, they challenged us all to begin using AI tools as a daily companion. This came as great news to my team. Recruiters who learn and adopt new AI-powered tools and practices will soon be able to outperform those who do not. In today’s fast-paced business environment, recruiters must evolve with emerging technologies if they want to continue to be subject matter experts.
With the directive to infuse every task and action with AI, and with the freedom to experiment with tools that would help us unlock new insights, efficiencies, and innovation, I and my fellow recruiters got to work. Here’s some of what we’ve learned.
AI Helps Us Recruit Across Time Zones and Continents
We’ve been remote-first since Nuvalence was founded in 2018. Globally-distributed teams are our rule, rather than our exception. That means we’ve been ahead of the curve on virtual recruitment from Day 1: able to interview anyone, at any time, regardless of where they are in the world. A few years ago, that meant phone screens and video calls – but in recruiting, AI has unlocked a whole new world of tools that are helping us save time on redundant tasks and make the process even more personal and powerful.
We’re exploring the use of AI-based assistants for writing job descriptions, interview scheduling bots, and other recruiting activities. Consulting AI to suggest role-related process descriptions that closely align with our corporate values serves the dual purpose of establishing very clear expectations around the open role we’re posting, as well as helping to differentiate Nuvalence job postings from similar roles at other companies. For scheduling interviews, I’ve seen particular success aligning participant availability by using GoodTime’s scheduling tool. It even automates reminders for the candidate, regarding process steps as well as interview start times.
We’re excited to continue exploring the vast capabilities of AI, such as the potential of leveraging AI for technical pre-screens, candidate sourcing and evaluation, improving response time, and more. Some organizations are taking AI to the extreme, even going so far as to “outsource” interviews to chatbots. That’s not us – more about that later – but it is a fascinating concept, and I’m interested in how it will continue to evolve.
AI Is A Great Matchmaker in Recruiting
AI is already showing immense utility in quickly researching different companies and their industries to ensure a candidate’s background aligns with what we’re looking for. We were recently hiring for a role that required very specific industry experience related to application development. To resolve questions around skill sets and other prerequisites aligned with this role, I used AI to interpret the job description and formulate interview questions that would zero in on the key requirements of the role to determine the relevance and depth of a candidate’s experience.
I created a few AI prompts and within a matter of seconds, was able to find the answers I needed. I even got a breakdown of how those skill sets might have been focused, depending on which company in the space had previously employed our potential recruits. Bringing an AI mindset to this task helped me determine which of those companies sell a software product, which sell suites of solutions, and which ones actually build everything from the ground up.
Adding dimensions of insight like this is a game-changer. AI also enabled us to shave valuable days off the recruitment process, which – especially for highly competitive, specialized roles – can make all the difference between landing the right candidate or not.
Questions: The Sweet Spot for AI-Human Collaboration
Job interviews aren’t the only time it’s important for recruiters to ask all the right questions. Throughout the process, honing questions is an essential feature of our work. AI shows great promise from end to end, enabling us to broaden the data we gather, expand our understanding of the ideal candidate, and expedite the process of diving into the specifics when hiring for a new role.
AI can help determine what recruiters should ask hiring managers when a new role has opened. Additionally, unconventional roles may require a more creative approach to crafting qualifying interview questions, especially for recruiters with less experience filling those positions. I have found this extremely helpful for filling roles outside of the technical field (where the majority of my experience lies).
While seasoned professionals may already be well-versed in all these lines of inquisition, by feeding AI job descriptions and other requirements, and asking it to formulate questions that will ensure all the right criteria are met, recruiters are able to get a fresh perspective on these steps. This collaboration also exemplifies how an expert human in the loop – in this case, “recruiter in the loop” – can best complement the use of AI. HITL is a magic ingredient for many positive outcomes driven by AI. Both need one another.
In my previous article, I wrote about how recruiters aren’t able to understand the full potential of what a candidate can bring to the table before speaking to them. Likewise, AI is unable to interpret the context behind a candidate’s experiences. However, through more informed live interaction, the recruiter’s ability to empathize and understand such nuances can often make a significant difference in evaluating a candidate’s journey and the impact of their contributions.
AI Helps Recruiters Make Connections
For myself and the talent team at Nuvalence, our bread and butter for finding hard-to-reach candidates is LinkedIn. With AI, we now easily create individualized prompts based on a candidate’s background, current and previous employers, hobbies listed on their profile, etc., in order to quickly compose a personalized message likely to perform about 15% better than InMail sent in bulk.
Gone are the days of having to spend hours crafting different, compelling, individualized messages to try to elicit a response from candidates who aren’t actively looking for a new role. And it’s really boosted my efficiency; I have been able to reduce the amount of time spent crafting these messages by almost 50%, saving an average of 15 minutes per InMail sent.
Recruiting and Hiring Safely with AI
While the talent team at Nuvalence has begun exploring what is possible with AI, we’re simultaneously prioritizing vigilance with the necessary safeguards. The recruiting industry as a whole has kept such mindfulness at the forefront of discussion, with industry conferences like SHRM23 including topics and sessions devoted to key considerations when assessing AI’s potential impact on the hiring process.
When using AI anywhere in the recruitment journey, it is crucial to ensure candidate data is protected at all times and that the AI tools used are transparent in how they use the information provided to them. This means recruiters have to understand how these various tools are making decisions and what data they use for training. Again, HITL is paramount here. In recruiting, human oversight remains a crucial part of the process to avoid perpetuating biases and ensuring fair and ethical hiring practices.
AI Is A Great Recruiting Partner (Not A Great Recruiter)
Earlier in this post, I linked to an article about AI chatbots that replace a human during a live interview. While I can see its appeal for some organizations, I won’t be advocating for that kind of change any time soon. Why? Because at the end of the day, talent acquisition is deeply human. We’re not hiring bots to join our team, so why let bots do the hiring?
In order to drive a proactive hiring process, help candidates present their best self, and to inform decision-making, the art of effective communication that skilled recruiters employ is essential. I’ve worked with numerous candidates who have needed a bit of coaching, whether that’s guidance on interview processes, encouragement from previous interview rounds, or personalized insights into the team, company, and culture. Candidates want to feel special; since their first impression of a company is usually with a recruiter, it’s crucial for recruiters to create a meaningful bond if they want to hire successfully in a competitive market.
I have achieved great outcomes by being as transparent and empathetic as possible, often connecting with candidates on a personal basis. That connection can’t be replaced by AI. But I think if we apply an AI mindset strategically, it can help us sharpen our focus and ability to carve out high-value activities essential to building that connection. While intuition and nuanced understanding remain critical when crafting a holistic view of a candidate’s background, I’m already seeing evidence of AI’s crucial role in enhancing the recruiter’s efficiency and strategic use of every moment with the candidate in order to build a stronger relationship. I believe the future of recruitment will be a beautiful blend between a human’s unique touch and the capabilities that AI brings to the table.