AI can make recruitment more human

Rather than taking the focus away from people, AI can help to create a more “human process", according to Unilever's CHRO

Speaking at the CogX London Conference 2018, strategy director CHRO at Unilever Melissa Gee Kee explained how the organisation used AI to analyse personal traits rather than CVs to attract talent.

“When we were asked to change the recruitment process at Unilever we actually ended up doing much more than that. We ripped out our old system and started all over again. In HR people are often worried that AI will take away some of the humanity from recruitment, but the application process at Unilever is now more human than it’s ever been,” she said.

Gee Kee explained how the organisation had decided to remove CVs from the application process, and instead implemented Pymetrics, which can assess a candidate’s personal qualities to analyse whether they’d be a good fit for the team.

Frida Polli, CEO at Pymetrics, presented statistics from the Harvard Business Review showing that 75% to 90% of people are rejected on the basis of their CV, but that out of seven ways of testing a candidate’s suitability for a position job experience and CVs came out as the least predictive of success retrospectively.

“We don’t ask people about their experience, this really allows us to tap into the ‘raw potential’ of our candidates. We also know that this can help to stop some of the socio-economic bias in the process, as it removes the possibility of some people being favoured because of where they might have been educated,” Gee Kee added.

She stated that the use of AI had helped to create a far more diverse workforce in other areas, through checking for patterns of bias with regards to ethnicity and gender in the hiring process.

Unilever also considered how the recruitment process was important to consumers' perception of its brand.

“We have 250,000 graduates applying to our schemes and only 800 places, and they’ll be buying our products every day, so it’s important that we think of them not just as our candidates but as our consumers, to make sure they have the best experience possible when applying for a role with us,” Gee Kee said.

If candidates were unsuccessful in their roles the organisation could point them towards other positions, Polli added.

“This approach has been really popular among our candidates, which has left us with an engagement score of 4.5 to 5. It’s a far more candidate-centric way of approaching recruitment, and it’s getting us great feedback and great results,” she said.