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How “Artificial Intelligence” Can Hurt Your Hiring Efforts

A 2017 Deloitte report found 33 percent of employers already use some form of computerized artificial intelligence system in the hiring process to save time and reduce human bias.

Many of them are using computer programs to screen job applications before they are ever seen by hiring managers. These programs are very sophisticated and screen for keywords that indicate that a candidate deserves further consideration. While screening hundreds, or even thousands of applications can be tedious you should be aware that sometimes the computerized screening process can be too thorough.

Programs like this look for the sure thing. They might dump an application who thinks creatively or comes from a non-traditional background. And that is a problem if you seek to hire someone who takes a more creative approach to a job. That’s according to two researchers who have examined organizational behavior.

Adina Sterling of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, notes, “It’s becoming much harder to find unusual talent, given that these candidates don’t fit squarely into one category.”  In the paper “(When) Is Hiring Strategic? Human Capital Acquisition in the Age of Algorithms” he and his colleague wrote, “…to the degree that human capital outcomes are influenced by these mechanisms, hiring cannot be effectively delegated or treated independently from a firm’s other strategic decisions, nor will a “best athlete” approach to hiring lead to optimal results.”

Despite this, these artificial intelligence reviews are becoming very popular. Vox reported that 67 percent of hiring managers and recruiters surveyed by LinkedIn said AI was saving them time last year.  Everyone wants to save time, but we now see it comes at a cost. 

If the system uses historical data, such as résumés collected from a company’s previously hired candidates, the system will value the characteristics of those previous candidates. 

If a company is looking for a different type of candidate, including those who come from a non-traditional or ethnic background, the system might eliminate some very talented candidates. 

It is hard enough for an experienced human resource professional to determine if an applicant is tenacious or has a natural ability or skill. While a computer program can help do many wonderful things, it might limit the number of potentially wonderful applicants. 

If your organization is considering this type of screening system, you might want to limit its use and allow for more direct oversight by your hiring managers. 


There are things applicants can do that can help make sure the computerized screening process doesn’t eliminate your resume. I discuss that in my course, “Getting The Job You Want.” It will help you develop a strategy to find the job you want.

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