May 13th, 2024 | Sterling

Revolutionizing Recruitment: How HR Technology and AI are Transforming Hiring Practices

In today’s dynamic hiring environment, companies are increasingly investing in HR technology to streamline their hiring processes and enhance the candidate experience.  To better understand how technology is helping HR professionals simplify routine tasks, we spoke with Chuck Walker, Senior Advisor – Public Safety Information Management at Sterling.

Chuck joined Sterling in 2014 after completing a 32-year career as a Regular Member with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. As Senior Advisor – Public Safety Information Management, he works closely with Sterling’s Management Team and Account Managers on aspects of the company’s products and services concerned with criminal record and police information.

He highlighted key technology integrations, the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and ways to take advantage of automation, with regulatory compliance and diversity top of mind. Equipped with these strategies, organizations can create a safe workplace that also provides candidates with a fast, modern, and convenient hiring and onboarding experience.

How do you see Technology improving the hiring process?

CW: Since today’s dynamic hiring environment requires new, adaptable ways of screening and the velocity of hiring remains a top priority among technology employers, leveraging technology is vital. To mitigate the cost of candidate drop-off, companies are investing in HR technology, in part to integrate background screening into the hiring process for a seamless, more efficient candidate experience that accelerates time-to-hire.

One use case is integrations with Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) and Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Together, these systems can simplify the process of initiating background screening requests and even improve the candidate experience by pre-filling some required personal information.

Technology can also help determine if candidates are who they say they are. Utilizing the latest methods of Identity Verification — such as biometrics — can greatly improve the quality and accuracy of candidate data. It also provides candidates with a better experience, demonstrating an organization’s commitment to creating a safe workplace with fast, modern, and convenient identity verification, particularly in a time of increased remote working.

Lastly, the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has also played an integral role, improving efficiency through automation of some aspects of the background screening process that typically required manual intervention. AI in the future will help provide accurate, relevant, and timely insights that accelerate hiring decisions with confidence. It will also help to deliver quick and frictionless experiences to candidates, as well as enable enhanced identity verification and background screening processes.

Perhaps the most interesting area to keep an eye on is how technology can automate and simplify decision making processes. It’s important that humans continue to make hiring decisions, but if AI can help reduce the risk of data overload by eliminating noise and focusing on what really matters, organizations may finally be able to establish a center of excellence to manage background screening and hiring tasks centrally and efficiently.

When exploring the intersection of HR and technology, what are some of the essential questions to consider?

CW: Perhaps the most relevant question facing the intersection between HR and technology in 2024 is where AI can and should assist.

When considering this question, employers — especially compliance and hiring teams in the technology space — should take note of updates in AI to adhere to compliant use of hiring and screening tools that enhance the background check experience for themselves and their candidates. Laws addressing the use of AI in the workforce, specifically for employment purposes, are still a relatively new concept, and the regulatory and legislative landscape is still evolving.

The next question related to AI will likely be… what’s next? Possible next steps for employers considering using AI tools and automation to help make hiring decisions include:

  • Review and Assess: Employers who are considering using (or who are currently using) automated or AI-powered employment tools in their workplace should consider careful review and assessment of any automate or AI-powered employment tools prior to implementation for employment decision-making purposes.
  • Create Policies: Employers should also consider developing company policies on the use of AI (for example, concerning background checks with AI) and technology-enabled tools. Without AI policies in place, employers cannot establish and enforce business-wide standards on the acceptable uses of automation and AI tools.
  • Leverage Legal Counsel: In addition, employers should consider leveraging legal counsel to review policies and practices.
  • Monitor AI Developments: Lastly, employers should examine the regulatory and legislative landscape for new laws and changes in enforcement and guidance. Sterling closely monitors developments in AI for our clients, providing updates on this and many other timely compliance topics.

In these ways, employers can help to leverage the emerging efficiency of AI tools while also helping to stay compliant with the rapidly evolving regulatory framework.

Another question employers might consider around the use of AI in hiring is what to look for in a background screening partner. Transparency, privacy, security, and compliance are the four most valuable principles for safe use of AI. It’s important for organizations to understand how their screening provider follows best practices around AI and how they provide guidance and resources for its responsible use as it evolves.

Lastly, where should the line be drawn between technology and humans making hiring decisions? HR leaders should assess if technology enhances the process without replacing human decision making. For example, if a candidate’s criminal record returns with a hit, depending on the employer’s screening policies, it can be important to evaluate a variety of factors related to the record, such as how long ago the offences were committed, the severity, the age of the applicant, and more.

Ultimately, employers should ensure they are partnering with informed providers, leveraging technology that supports compliance, and operating according to the organization’s mission, values, and policies.

Rapid advances in technology have led to a notable increase in candidate and employee fraud. What can companies do to protect themselves?

CW: Protecting your tech company from potential fraud and inaccuracies starts with verifying identity, especially with the rise of remote hiring and work. Candidates may either intentionally or accidentally provide inaccurate identity information, making verifying candidate-provided data an important first step in the hiring process.

When employers add identity verification to the start of the background screening process, they are helping to build a culture of trust and safety, giving employers a high degree of confidence that candidates are who they say they are. But what are the different approaches technology organizations should consider when thinking about implementing identity verification?

  • First, identify what type of screening is required under law. Is your workforce subject to a background requirement?
  • What are the risks to public safety? For example, are your workers driving, or entering people’s homes?
  • Tie the role to the specific risk (safety-sensitive roles, drivers, deliveries, etc.).
  • Review your internal policies.​

All of these factors should be taken into consideration when designing your background screening program specific to your technology company.

An effective identity verification program will offer employers a simple, trusted way to produce faster, more accurate background check results. As a result, it helps strengthen pre-employment checks, reduces or eliminates the need to use physical documents, and creates a simplified hiring and onboarding experience for both employers and candidates.

How do recent technologies improve the candidate experience?

CW: Tech companies investing in HR technology, for example to integrate background screening into the hiring process, are setting themselves up for a seamless, more efficient candidate experience that accelerates time-to-hire. Investing in technology allows candidates to leverage a simple, engaging, and smooth data collection process – at any time, across any device, and likely in multiple languages.

Upfront identity verification also reduces friction and enhances the candidate experience.

Technology makes it easy for candidates — no matter where they live — to prove who they are through an identity-first experience that strengthens screening results worldwide.

As organizations look to drive productivity, do you see the integration of AI being a top priority?

CW: While AI can certainly help drive productivity, it should be approached with caution when it comes to the hiring process. Organizations should explore and test AI capabilities before jumping in with both feet, ensuring all angles are carefully evaluated prior to implementation.

Replacing repetitive, mundane tasks can reduce turnaround time and cost, but utilizing AI for more advanced functions in the decision-making process should be reviewed thoroughly.

Are there any concerns or compliance issues that arise from these new technologies?

CW: Absolutely, technology in the hiring process is a top trend this year, but it does not come without risk.

From a compliance standpoint, employers need to consider drafting an AI policy that takes into account the use of AI and automated employment decision tools (AEDTs) for compliance with existing federal and provincial anti-discrimination laws, as well as new laws which are targeting the need for bias testing to prevent discrimination. By implementing policies and best practices to evaluate new technology, employers can mitigate the risk of violating laws when AI is part of the hiring process. If an AI policy is already in place, organizations should stay knowledgeable about upcoming regulatory and legislative developments.

From a diversity and inclusion standpoint, tech employers should consider whether the use of AI inadvertently screens out applications from certain groups. Furthermore, creating rules to automate the adjudication of red flags uncovered in a criminal record check should carefully consider all the variables in play. This will help to ensure that all applicants are provided a fair chance at employment and that the organization avoids potential discrimination issues.

When thinking about integrating technology further into the HR function, organizations should consult with experts in legal, ethical, and technological fields to ensure that it’s used responsibly and effectively.

One thing we do know is that technology will continue to excite those in the tech industry and simplify the hiring experience for recruiters and candidates alike. Whatever the technology and its specific application, 2024 promises to be a year full of advancement and learning.

This originally appeared on Tech Talent Canada:

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