The impact of artificial intelligence within the recruitment industry: Defining a new way of recruiting

Wright, J. Atkinson, D. Clifford, J: The impact of artificial intelligence within
the recruitment industry: Defining a new way of recruiting

2019 WEI International Academic Conference on Business, Economics, Management and Finance (Harvard Faculty Club 2019, Boston, USA), July 29-August 2, 2019


This paper set out to consider artificial intelligence (AI) and the impact its growing influence is having within the recruitment industry. This research considered how AI is influencing employers and candidates, specifically throughout the initial stages of the recruitment process. With limited academic research conducted to date, AI has been accepted, by practising recruitment specialists, as being “game-changing for HR” (May, 2016, p.6). The overarching aim of this research was to make recommendations on how recruitment processes could be changed, for the better, in recognition of the introduction of AI technology.

Technology has always held an influence within the recruitment scene, reducing costs and delivering increased effectiveness in recruiting candidates (Okolie, 2017, Singh, 2003). However, the US Department of Labor suggested recruitment, as it stands, is only 16% effective (ClearFit, n.d.). If this is the case, the introduction of AI provides the opportunity to achieve significant improvements. According to Bullhorn (2018), these early improvements are likely to effect the sourcing and screening of candidates, the initial stages of the recruitment process.

Due to the lack of academic literature regarding AI’s influence on the recruitment industry, an integrative literature review was conducted to develop new perspectives on the topic (Saunders et al., 2016). As a result both scholarly literature and professional sources were used. To develop a structured analysis of these sources, thematic analysis was used (Braun et al., 2006). These themes were taken from arguments made in the literature surrounding the impact and influence that AI could have in recruitment. The themes of ‘risks and limitations’, ‘bias and inclusion’ and ‘technicalities and opportunities’ guided a framework for primary research to be conducted.

In order to assess the potential impact that AI may have on recruitment processes, three forms of research were undertaken. Semi structured interviews were conducted with nine experts in varying fields surrounding recruitment and AI. An online survey with 132 respondents provided insight into a candidates pre-existing perceptions of recruitment processes. Finally, an observation of a round-table event was conducted in order to analyse the key themes, thoughts and concerns of experts that exist currently within the field of AI in HR.

This paper concludes with the suggestion of a newly formed recruitment process. This process integrates significant structural and technological change in recruitment but enables HR teams to maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of their talent acquisition. As a result, the standardised process of recruiting for roles will need to be flipped, from trial and error, to a ‘test for success’ model.