By Michael L. Childers and Annette Tyman

Seyfarth Synopsis: As companies face increasing competition for the best talent within the marketplace, a growing number of businesses are turning to artificial intelligence and data driven strategies to more effectively identify and evaluate potential employees. The first installment of our artificial intelligence series will focus on some of the ways that employers are using these technologies in the area of talent acquisition.

Business has always been in a search for “the next big thing.” Something to give them an edge over competitors or allow them to anticipate shifts in the marketplace before they happen. Companies who moved from hand production to large-scale manufacturing were able to dominate nascent markets around the turn of the 20th Century. And since the 1990s, businesses have been in a fierce competition to harness the power of computers and the internet. The next iteration of that competition is the use of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence.

Just as individuals today engage with the world differently in terms of how they produce and consume information, there has been a shift in how employers and particularly recruiters think about the employment landscape. Many employers are moving away from traditional hiring methods that included posting jobs online and interviewing the candidates that apply. Companies have started utilizing search algorithms to passively source candidates based on their digital footprint and artificial intelligence programs to help more efficiently evaluate the increased applicant pools that this type of sourcing generates.

As an illustrative example, let’s say that a company has an opening for a computer programmer. Previously, a recruiter would post to job aggregation sites like or Indeed, review the resumes of the candidates that applied, bring the top candidates in for an interview and then make the desired candidate an offer. Nearly everything about that pre-offer process is changing. Today, in addition to the posting on aggregation sites,  recruiters also post to Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. They use the built in search functionality tools on each of these platforms to look for profiles that use industry related terms and hashtags. Still more companies are using AI automation tools to crawl through LinkedIn profiles and Facebook news feeds to try to identify additional candidates. Today, recruiters can gather a list of potential candidates well before those potential candidates would even know they are a potential candidate, and without even knowing the job opening even exists. Rather than waiting for potential candidates to apply, recruiters can reach out to potential candidates across a variety of different social media platforms and email addresses to encourage them to apply for the opening.

Once the applications and resumes get in the door, they are increasingly likely to be reviewed by AI algorithms rather than employees in HR. These algorithms may search for particular experience or keywords in the resumes to identify high potential candidates based on profiles built by looking at current high performing employees. Some companies have even shifted away from traditional applications and resumes and instead are having candidates play games designed by industrial and organizational psychologists to identify certain character traits that are likely to make someone a high or low performer within the job. Other companies have started to introduce AI tools into the interview process as well and instead of having candidates come in to talk with a recruiter or hiring manager, they will instead provide recorded answers to pre-loaded interview questions. These recordings are then analyzed by AI algorithms which analyze the words spoken, and may even attempt to glean the context in which words are spoken by analyzing facial movements, eye contact, and other physical features.

Most of these technologies are still in the very early stages of implementation, however, lawmakers have expressed clear concerns with the current lack of guidance around artificial intelligence and its potential impact on job candidates. Several states like Illinois and California have introduced or passed legislation to curb the unencumbered use of artificial intelligence in the hiring process. The Federal government also waded into the discussion with the April 2019 introduction of the Algorithmic Accountability Act which aims to create a regulatory framework for the use of AI. While we have yet to see large scale litigation in this area, there are already serious questions about bias, fairness, and whether all of the metrics being used to assess candidates are truly job related.

We are continuing to monitor the new uses of artificial intelligence in the workplace. Stay tuned!

For more information on this or any related topic please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the People Analytics Group or Workplace Counseling & Solutions Team.