Q&A : Transcending Human Biases in Recruiting – Hunt Scanlon 2018 State of Industry Report

June 20, 2018
Spread the word!

by Hugo Feuglein, and John J Keller, Diversified Search Managing Directors

John Keller leads Diversified Search’s Innovation and Transformation search practice, where he serves as a Managing Director and advisor to CEOs, board directors, and C-suite leaders. Hugo Fueglein serves as a Managing Director and core member of the firm’s global CIO practice, a role that has allowed him to place technology executives in key positions cross industry.

This article was first published in the 2018 Hunt Scanlon State of the Industry Report, June 2018

It’s been said that AI will help to circumvent human bias in recruiting. How so?

JK: You can’t hold back technology’s march, including AI and its myriad opportunities to improve everything from data handling to medicine. But it would be a mistake to downplay the critical role that humans play in what is ultimately an emotional, gut-call decision by leadership. Ideally, AI would be harnessed to assist a partially data-driven decision about an individual’s performance, and combine this with a person’s understanding of nuance, cultural suitability, and personality fit to take on a challenging leadership role.

HF: So, while artificial intelligence will clearly be an aid to recruiters in the near future, it will only be as good as the data it taps into. We have not yet seen AI tools that can effectively gather all the requirements and information from stakeholders / hiring managers used to identify required core competencies and assessment criteria for particular positions within a particular company or culture. Effective and appropriate front-end criterion is, and will continue to be, heavily dependent on human interaction and interviewing.

Is there a potential pitfall in relying too heavily on Big Data when matching candidates to jobs?

HF: The simple answer is yes. AI and Big Data analytics tools are valuable pieces in the overall candidate assessment process. Data-driven assessments are only as good as the data being included in the assessment.

JK: When used smartly, AI can aid the use of computers and data handling to research quickly and aid selection – reducing by weeks the research, ID, and selection of individuals to fill a role. However, in finding and recruiting gifted individuals to lead, AI is outgunned. AI didn’t produce, and would never have identified, Irving Berlin, a Russian immigrant who couldn’t read a note and never made it past the eighth grade, or Ella Fitzgerald or Jackson Pollock. In the same vein, AI didn’t recruit Louis V. Gerstner to save IBM or Michael Capellas to save MCI Worldcom from bankruptcy following the largest corporate fraud in U.S. history. And it is naïve to believe that, if engaged, it would have.

How can the role of recruiters increase as AI takes hold?

JK: There is a great opportunity for recruiters and AI to coexist. AI can help recruiters search databases and identify candidates using very specific criteria, and then compare and contrast these individuals and qualify the best one to assume the leadership role.

HF: In the near term, AI’s biggest contribution to the recruiting world may be in reducing the cycle times of research and targeted candidate identification. These tools will allow consultants to devote more time to value-added deliverables associated with candidate assessment, interviewing, search process improvements, and client management.