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ChatGPT agrees: Humans are better at hiring humans

While many jobs will be affected in some way by AI, humans will always be key contributors—particularly when it comes to hiring.

Published on

April 2, 2023


“Tell me why humans are better than AI at hiring job applicants.”

That was the query I recently posed to ChatGPT, the most buzz-worthy of all the generative AI-based platforms out there, and the answer I received was both heartening and disturbing.

Heartening because I mostly agree with it; disturbing because I mostly agree with something written by a computer.

Before I get into what ChatGPT said, let me clarify a few things.

I agree “the robots are coming” for some kinds of jobs, or at least parts of them. Goldman Sachs recently estimated that one-quarter of current work tasks could be automated by AI. For example, routine number-crunching tasks, certain elements of a paralegal’s role, basic coding (or verifying code), basic copyediting and even developing a solid outline for a post like this—all could be done by computers.

So, it’s no wonder so many knowledge workers—people who previously felt immune to automation—are now concerned about being replaced by AI tools (a recent ZipRecruiter survey found that 62% of jobseekers were worried about being replaced). 

I think many jobs will be affected in some way by AI, but humans will always be key contributors in every workplace. And they’re especially critical in mine. I believe our team of recruiters is better at vetting and hiring candidates than a computer program ever will be.

AI-powered recruitment

There’s a growing number of AI-powered software programs that parse resumés against set criteria and do the initial screening of candidates, which can save time and money (especially for companies that receive a high volume of applications). However, just because the resumé passes the test doesn’t mean the human behind it matches what is written, especially today, when automated tools like ChatGPT can whip up a pretty decent resumé in no time.

How much time do these programs actually save if you end up hiring the wrong person? You certainly wouldn’t save much money.

And aren’t all automated programs biased in some way? After all, they’re programmed by people. Maybe they’re designed to weed out candidates with gaps on their resumés or favour resumés that include the highest number of the right keywords. But what if the candidate was downsized, took parental leave or switched jobs because of impending layoffs? What if the candidate is simply very skilled at writing a keyword-rich resumé, but perhaps not so skilled on the job?

An interview with a skilled recruiter would help determine the real reason for the gaps and whether the candidate’s job skills match their stellar resumé.

I also wonder if an automated program would primarily surface the resumés of people with similar skills to those already on the job, rather than taking a chance on candidates who might not obviously fit the mold? Doesn’t this only perpetuate the “like-me” hiring bias, creating homogeneity in the workplace?

I do realize there are benefits to some AI-powered recruitment programs, but my bet is still on the humans. Here’s why.

Humans hiring humans

I’ve always found people fascinating. And quirky, interesting, funny, unique… How can you capture all of that—the essence of a person—on a piece of paper? (Admittedly, “paper” sounds quaint today.)

And beyond personality, how can you truly assess someone’s skill at processing information, their creative thinking and problem-solving skills and their ability to process, react to and answer questions on the spot—from a resumé?

Even for an initial screening, I don’t think it’s possible for a human to properly gauge skills or ability based on a quick read or scan through a resumé, regardless of how good it is. I think the only way to truly measure these things is to talk to the candidate, human to human, whether in person or over a video call (I don’t even think an old-school phone call works as well), interview them, and get to know what makes them tick.

After all, a candidate could have the most incredible resumé, but that doesn’t mean they’re right for the actual job. (I joined the staffing industry at 16 years old and at the time, I believed every resume I read. Today, I gauge that 10-30% of resumes are exaggerated. The human uncovers the real deal.)

And when it comes to assessing those “soft skills” I mention above, I realize humans have a tendency to gravitate toward people they like, which too often results in hiring people like themselves. To remove this natural human bias from the hiring process, we work with our recruiters to understand unconscious bias, to challenge it, and to seek inclusion in all hiring practices. And with our clients, we advocate for a diverse slate of candidates.

Relationships: The core of our recruitment process

Our entire process involves strong relationships. In fact, a large percentage of the candidates in our database are referrals from people we’ve worked with or know through our network.

When assessing candidates, we use the resume as a springboard to build a relationship. And in our case, the face-to-face interview (even by video), assessments and relationship matter more.

ChatGPT’s response to my query

Okay, on to the big reveal… Here’s what ChatGPT wrote to me verbatim (bolding is mine). While I’m not a proponent of “culture fit” (I believe instead in “culture add”—hiring people from diverse backgrounds and with varying skillsets), I think the rest is pretty good…for a computer!

Humans are better than AI at hiring job applicants for several reasons:

  • Understanding context: Humans are better at understanding the context of a job opening, the culture of the organization, and the personality traits required for the role. They can take into account the nuances of the job and the specific needs of the organization.
  • Emotional intelligence: Humans are better at reading people and understanding their emotions, which is essential in a hiring process. They can pick up on nonverbal cues and assess how well the candidate might fit into the team.
  • Flexibility: Humans can adjust their approach to the interview based on how the conversation is progressing. They can delve deeper into areas that seem promising or pivot the conversation if the candidate doesn’t seem like a good fit.
  • Ethical considerations: Humans can take ethical considerations into account when evaluating candidates. For example, they can consider whether the candidate might be a good fit for the company culture and whether they might be a good ambassador for the company.
  • Creativity: Humans can be more creative in identifying potential candidates. They can think outside the box and identify candidates who might have transferable skills or who might be a good fit for the company culture, even if they don’t have a traditional background.

While AI can be useful in screening resumes and identifying candidates who meet certain criteria, it is not yet capable of the same level of understanding, emotional intelligence, and creativity as humans. Therefore, humans are better suited for the task of hiring job applicants.

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