The latest advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are fast becoming prevalent in business operations across industries, transforming the relationship between human beings and machines in the workplace. As people move from fear to excitement concerning AI, the time is ripe for recruiters to realize the benefits of AI for the talent acquisition function.

The recent “AI@Work” study, a joint effort by Oracle and Future Workplace, surveyed more than 8,000 employees, managers, and HR leaders across 10 countries. We asked participants about their attitudes and behaviors related to AI, including how they saw working side by side with a chatbot. The findings mark a major shift from just one year ago when Future Workplace conducted a similar survey.

Roughly half of our survey respondents this year said they’re currently using some form of AI at work, a jump from the 32 percent who said the same in last year’s survey. Furthermore, they reported having either a “functional” (34 percent) or “comfortable” (25 percent) relationship with AI at work. Fifty-three percent of respondents said they are optimistic about having robot coworkers, and 64 percent would even trust a robot more than their manager for some tasks.

“People are no longer afraid of the robots,” said Emily He, SVP, Human Capital Management Cloud Business Group, Oracle. “They have experienced how AI and machine learning can improve the way they work in a very pragmatic way. The more they use these technologies, the more excited they are about them.”

The majority of the professionals we surveyed are excited or optimistic about the opportunities AI presents. HR leaders are most optimistic (38 percent), followed by other managers (31 percent) and employees (19 percent).

These responses align with what Future Workplace is seeing across industries: more rapid adoption of AI technologies for many of HR’s more administrative and routine functions, such as sourcing candidates, screening candidates, and first-level candidate interviews. The profusion of AI prospecting and screening tools, combined with early successes deploying AI for recruiting, has made talent acquisition a hot spot for AI at work.

Most applicants find interacting with chatbots and other AI tools during the screening process more convenient and unbiased than traditional processes. Rather than fearing for their jobs, talent acquisition professionals adopting AI tend to focus on more positive outcomes. The people we surveyed this year expect AI to free up time (46 percent), allowing them to learn new skills (36 percent) and expand and be more strategic in their roles (28 percent).

For more expert talent acquisition insights, check out the latest issue of Magazine:

Hilton Increases Speed to Hire by 85 Percent With AI

To get a better idea of how AI is changing recruiting, let’s look at the example of Hilton, one early adopter of AI for talent acquisition.

The Hilton Global Recruiting team receives more than a million applications per year and must manage as many as 45,000 candidates each year for high-volume roles, including Hilton reservations agents and revenue management specialists in the customer care center. The team is continuously recruiting analysts and senior analysts for these roles through a bespoke interview process with intense screening for analytics capabilities.

In 2014, Hilton began to explore AI technologies as potential solutions. According to Sarah Smart, vice president of global recruiting for Hilton, “If we kept recruiting in the same way, it was going to take too long to fill roles.”

Hilton set out to create a solution that would find best-fit applicants for the organization and its culture while creating a personalized experience that would delight candidates. The company applied AI for video interviewing and preassessment, as well as for automated screening of potential candidates.

The Hilton team deployed chatbots to automate administrative tasks like initial applicant screening, freeing up recruiters’ time for more high-level touches with candidates. By asking a series of questions through a chatbot, the software intelligently qualifies applicants for the best-fit role, which is sometimes a role different from the one they initially applied for.

Applicants start by interacting with a chatbot, which directs them to an assessment of 5-7 questions. Candidates have the option to retake the assessment if need be. Once candidates submit their assessments, predictive modeling is used for the initial screen. From there, the recruiter takes over to do the selling and closing of the position.

At the recent HR Tech Conference, Smart reported that using AI has helped Hilton make 400 percent more offers with 23 percent less staff while improving time to hire from six weeks to one. The AI-driven predictive insights from the video interviews have also helped Hilton hire more high performers and reduce staff turnover. Hilton reports consistent Net Promoter Scores in the 80s from candidates over the past four years, increased diversity in its talent pool, and 1.5 times greater concentration of high performers in its talent pool.

Implementing AI also altered the recruiter’s role in the first stages of screening, leading to a transformation of the recruiter’s position in general. For example, some recruiters are becoming technology implementation specialists, while others have transitioned into recruitment marketing.

As workers and managers learn to leverage the power of AI in the workplace, they will increasingly be freed from many of their routine tasks, giving them more time to solve critical business problems for the enterprise. For example, AI has freed up Hilton’s recruiters for important strategic activities, allowing them to now act as stronger partners to hiring managers who are new to the recruiting process.

The time is now for recruiters to learn about the power of AI to transform their roles and augment their capabilities.

Jeanne C. Meister is founding partner of Future Workplace and an online faculty member for Using AI 4 HR.

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