In the evolving landscape of the modern workplace, AI has emerged as both a beacon of innovation and a source of apprehension. While hailed for its potential to revolutionize hiring practices and streamline daily operations, AI’s ascent is hindered by a cloud of uncertainty

In “A Guide to Using AI for Talent Decision-Making,” the company SHL states, “On the surface, it looks like AI can promise huge benefits for this field. Nevertheless, from over 1,600 HR professionals surveyed, only 12% of respondents stated they used AI-Based assessments for hiring new candidates.

In terms of AI and talent recruitment, it has the potential to drastically cut down on the time it takes to find the perfect fit for a job. AI can shortlist a thousand candidates by screening for the best matches to the stated requirements, education and experience.  AI can also generate a list of interview questions and score responses.

The guide lists five key concerns that organizations express in their contemplation of utilizing AI to find employees. It also lists recommendations to address those concerns. Among the concerns are “Hidden Bias,” “Unknown Candidate Reaction,” and “Legal Concerns.” With Hidden Bias, the guide states that AI systems can be inherently biased because they learn from human data.  A recommendation to overcome that concern, according to the guide, is to use diverse and representative data across different demographics to train the AI. 

Another concern is that AI is simply an unknown quantity, not accessible or comprehensible to human users, and that makes it difficult to understand and justify the system’s decisions or predictions. The recommendation to overcome that concern is to “adopt explainable AI methodologies and techniques by providing interpretable and transparent AI models.”

The legal concerns center on the use of AI in the workplace as part of the hiring process, that can lead to questionable outcomes, and the changing landscape of legislation and rules pertaining to such use. The recommendation would be to connect with “specialists in AI ethics and laws to fully understand how best to harness the power of AI, while mitigating some of its risks.”

SHL’s research also revealed that most people are not worried about AI taking over their jobs, which is something commonly discussed with new technology in the workplace. According to the survey, only 22% of the respondents said they were worried about being replaced by AI. 

In a recent American Staffing Association Workforce Monitor online survey conducted by The Harris Poll, there was high skepticism in AI tools used in job recruiting, among people who are considering a new job. In that group, 43% believe that AI recruiting tools are more biased than humans. Among people with no immediate plans for a job change, just 29% felt the same way. The survey was conducted in late June 2023 and involved at least 2,000 U.S. adults.

“Job seekers may feel comfortable using artificial intelligence tools in their job search, but that does not equate to trusting AI to make fair hiring decisions,” said ASA chief executive officer Richard Wahlquist. “As AI tools become more widely deployed, it’s critical that hiring managers work to increase transparency and accountability in their hiring processes and use tools that meet current and emerging antibias standards. It’s also critically important that policymakers and technologists thoughtfully consider measures intended to lower bias in AI hiring systems.”

The legal and ethical ramifications continue to be a topic of much debate, and is likely a primary reason that AI has not been adopted at a quicker pace, hiring experts say. 

A survey conducted more than seven years ago, in December 2017, by Korn Ferry, a global organizational consulting firm, revealed that, of 800 talent acquisition professionals, 63%  said that AI had changed the way recruiting is done in their organization, and 69% said that AI had garnered higher-quality candidates. Additionally, 83% of respondents said that they had some understanding, or a great understanding, of how Big Data and AI can help in the recruiting process, and 17% responded that they had little to no understanding. 

It appears time, better understanding and more discussions are needed to determine how to best utilize AI in the staffing landscape.