Will artificial intelligence steal my job?

In the future will we be trusting robots with our recruitment processes… to find us new colleagues? Will the next job you apply for be managed by a human or robot? Will a robot replace me as a recruiter? I certainly had never thought that such a job, a job that requires a great deal of personal interaction could ever be replaced by artificial intelligence, but it seems I was wrong.

Recently I have been trying my hand at digital marketing, a field that previously I had not worked in, but have always been interested in. My background is in psychology and more specifically human resources i.e., recruitment and selection. In fact my role at WayOut is HR Recruiter (officially speaking). As part of my developing skill set in marketing, I frequented a course offered in Florence, which was aimed at helping Italian organisations become more “digital”. I want to share one of the topics that not only piqued my interest, but also left me speechless, and that is the use of Artificial Intelligence at work. I want to add a brief clause here; I have dabbled in AI previously. When I say dabbled, I truly mean dabbled, but I love it and always have. When I was 14 years old I built robots out of Lego at school and in my free time and programmed them to dance to music and follow directions (I won my school robotics competition two years in a row and made it to state finals in the Queensland, Australia Junior Robotics Competition – yes I have always been a fan girl of geeky new technology) – moving right along…

We’ve heard about chat bots and machine learning etcetera so I won’t bore you with the details, also because this was not news to me. As I said I love technology and wherever I can, I automatize processes at work and in my personal life using new technologies. I was left gobsmacked when I learnt that in Russia a robot had already been developed and implemented to do my job. I was certainly not expecting that. Her (if we can assign a gender to a robot) name is Vera and she wasn’t developed yesterday, she’s been around since 2016!! She doesn’t just do CV screening either she conducts interviews and selects candidates. 100% of what I do everyday, Vera can do.

Of course Vera does not come without her pitfalls but it got me really thinking hard about what the future of my job might look like. Malcolm Gladwell in his speech at WBF in Milan 2018 said that great technological changes take almost 20 to 30 years to implement due to an array of reasons including fear, scepticism or not seeing the immediate needs or benefits. In 20 years could the job “Recruiter” no longer exist?

Vera is (for the moment) fluent in Russian and English, screens CVs, is able to conduct interviews in just eight minutes and has already been implemented in 200 companies around the world including PepsiCo and L’Oréal. I like to think I’m efficient and fast at what I do, but I certainly can’t conduct a thorough interview in eight minutes! As a former psychologist this idea got me thinking about behavioural biases, candidate experiences and the dehumanisation of what can often be a stressful process for job seekers.

Before finding my place at WayOut I was a very active job seeker for just over a year. I sent tonnes of CVs to all kinds of companies, attended a number of interviews and was frequently left disappointed when I wasn’t called back or told my skills weren’t what they were looking for. I did, however, always have a person of contact in each of these processes, someone I could ask for advice or feedback and knowing that there was a person on the other end of the phone or email often made me feel more comfortable. I don’t know how I would have felt if I went through that process with a robot. Would I have felt more comfortable because I knew their judgement would be more objective than that of a human? Would I have felt disadvantaged because my level of Italian may not have met their standards according to a computer? I’m really not sure how to answer.

For the moment one of Vera’s limitations includes not being able to search for executive hires, but from the reviews so far she is very capable in finding blue-collar workers and will soon be implemented to conduct exit interviews. I’m excited to see where this technology will take us in what could be a very near future, but for the moment I’d like to keep my job!

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