Hiring & Recruiting, Recruiting Technology

AI and Ghosting May Continue to Be Problems in 2019

2018 brought about a number of hiring issues that seem to have carried over into the new year. One main issue that still remains is the low unemployment rate, making it more difficult for employers to find and retain top talent. While employers continue to find new ways to attract talent, there are two other issues to keep in mind when recruiting talent in the new year.problems

In a recent Namely blog post, Andy Przystanski shares four predictions that HR professionals should be aware of in 2019. Here, we’ll cover two predictions that directly impact recruiters and hiring managers.

AI will Drive Candidate Experience but Still Has Limitations

We learned last year that artificial intelligence (AI) plays a key role in the candidate experience, and that sentiment will hold true throughout 2019—and most likely for years to come.

Przystanski says, “[W]e predict that the practical application of AI in HR and recruiting will make it easier than ever for employees to get the answers they need. Whether a candidate wants to know a job’s salary range or an employee needs a benefits carrier’s support line, intelligent ‘chatbots’ are poised to save us all time in 2019.”

As we found out in 2018, AI has been a lifesaver for many recruiters. AI is helping relieve recruiters of administrative functions like screening and sourcing candidates, as well as scheduling interviews.

However, recruiting functions that involve in-depth decision-making do not yet involve AI to the same degree—especially in the areas of selecting candidates, interviewing candidates, and onboarding new hires. While AI has been beneficial in the mundane task department, it does have its limitations and drawbacks.

Case in Point: Amazon and Facebook

As we saw with Amazon in 2018, AI relies on human data input, and if we don’t teach machines correctly, it may result in inadvertent discrimination.

In Amazon’s case, humans created an algorithm that was taught to look for good prospects. The characteristics of good prospects were based on comparison with previous résumés received, which tended to be more from men than from women. In essence, it learned that men’s résumés—and the types of words men are more likely to use and the schools they were more likely to attend, etc.—were preferable.

Obviously, we hope, Amazon had no intention to have the machine create such a clear bias, but AI can only work with what it’s given. Amazon, to its credit, did try to fix the algorithm to remove the bias but couldn’t do it and ended up having to shut down the AI recruiting as a result.

And then there’s Facebook and its targeted job advertisements. The practice of targeting Facebook users through certain demographics or shared interests is called microtargeting, and proponents of the advertising strategy say it’s what makes online advertising both efficient and effective. Some employment ads on Facebook have even targeted applicants using multiple criteria, including geography, as a way to narrow the field even further.

In December 2017, the Communications Workers of America and three individuals brought a class action lawsuit in federal court in California against several large companies, including T-Mobile US Inc. and Amazon.com, Inc., alleging the companies are discriminating against older workers by limiting the audience for their employment ads on Facebook to younger users.

As Tony Puckett, shareholder at McAfee & Taft and editor of Oklahoma Employment Law Letter, says, “[E]mployers need to understand that online job postings are no different from ads published in a local newspaper.”

Puckett adds, “Consequently, you should audit your online job postings and other recruiting materials for any age-specific references or placements that may limit access to younger viewers. You should also make sure your overall recruiting strategies include job advertisements in media that individuals of any age can receive or access.”

As AI continues to evolve and grow over time, these risks may go away. But until it is entirely flawless, recruiters and hiring managers will need to stay vigilant and continue to teach these machines the proper methods to avoid discrimination in the future.

Ghosting Will Continue to Be an Issue

In 2018, we were blessed with a new buzzword: ghosting. What was once a term used in the dating world to describe a person who stopped communicating after a bad date has carried over into the business world and is more or less the same concept.

In the business world, ghosting refers to a candidate who just disappears into thin air. The candidate will stop responding to calls and e-mails, and this isn’t just after the candidate has gone through the interview process. Some employers have reported that candidates have gone as far as not showing up for the first day of work. Przystanski says, “We predict that ghosting will become even more of a workplace issue in 2019.”

While ghosting may reflect poorly on the candidate, it also says something about the employer. When a candidate ghosts a company, he or she does so for a variety of reasons, some being: the culture wasn’t a good fit, the candidate received a better offer elsewhere, or the candidate had a terrible experience with the hiring process. When candidates don’t have a good experience during the hiring process, they’re more inclined to think that the bad experience will carry over into their employment with the company. And who wants to work for a company with a bad culture or one that offers a bad experience?

Ghosting may be an annoyance, and certainly an unprofessional trend that can add to the time and cost of filling open positions, but it is clearly a strong indicator of a broader trend: employees having the upper hand in employment negotiations and the hiring process in the face of a tight labor market.

And let’s face it: The biggest challenge recruiters will continue to face in the year ahead is a candidate-driven market due to low unemployment rates.