Artificial Intelligence (AI) may conjure up images of maniacal robots overrunning the world, but for Human Resources departments the reality is much less dramatic. Although chatbots and predictive algorithms might not sound impressive, they’re already having a profound effect on the way companies manage their workforces. Properly designed and implemented, AI-driven technologies can bring a number of benefits to HR departments willing to undertake the challenge of incorporating them into their operations.

AI and Candidate Screening

Although AI has the potential to revolutionize many aspects of the workplace, it’s probably having the largest impact on the way organizations screen, interview, and hire candidates. Talent acquisition software can scan, read, and evaluate resumes to eliminate unsuitable applicants. The average recruiter spends only 5 to 7 seconds looking at a resume, but that doesn’t take into account the time needed to properly file and retrieve all received applications. With AI software to process resumes and screen out as many as 75% of applicants, recruiters begin their review process with a far more manageable pool of candidates.

For today’s HR departments, reviewing applicants involves far more than simply looking over resumes. From following up on references to sifting through myriad social media accounts to assess the suitability of a potential hire, recruiters devote a huge amount of time to research before even scheduling an interview. Since HR professionals usually have other responsibilities in their organization that demand their time and attention, the hiring process tends to drag on longer than necessary. By the time they get around to scheduling interviews, qualified candidates may have already accepted another position or unsuitable candidates might have slipped through.

HR departments can also utilize AI tools to quickly gain a multifaceted profile of a large number of applicants that includes information from resumes, social media, and references. Automating these early stages of the application process also makes it easier to correspond with potential candidates. People tend to have a negative view of a company that doesn’t acknowledge that they’ve applied for a job, but they’re more likely to have a positive impression if they receive updates throughout the application process. For organizations that incorporate video interviews into their hiring process, AI software can provide a more detailed assessment of the candidate’s soft skills based on their word choice, vocal inflections, facial expressions, and gestures.

Organizations looking to bring more diversity into their hiring practices can also utilize AI recruiting to account for unconscious bias. Being human, recruiters often do not realize how much their assessments are influenced by factors that have nothing to do with an applicant’s professional competency for a job. Race, gender, ethnicity, and even language can affect the perception of an applicant, potentially overshadowing their otherwise adequate qualifications. A well-designed algorithm takes these and other biases into account to ensure that a diverse range of candidates emerges from the initial screening process.

AI as an Onboarding Tool

After the hiring process is completed, AI tools can be of further benefit during the subsequent onboarding and training. New employees often demand a great deal of HR’s attention, but much of this burden can be placed on AI programs that walk them through routine procedures and introduce them to different aspects of the organization. Some companies are already experimenting with personal AI assistants that assign a set of daily tasks to new hires that allow them to organically integrate into the workplace at a controlled pace.

New and existing employees alike tend to flood HR departments with questions related to payment, holiday leave, and other policies, not to mention the tumultuous open enrollment season for health benefits. Here again, AI offers comprehensive solutions in the form of intelligent chatbots capable of fielding basic questions in real time. By using this self-service platform to carry out low value, repetitive tasks, HR personnel are free to focus on more complex and time intensive issues that demand their attention.

Using AI to Improve Training

When it comes to ongoing training and evaluation, AI again provides a wide range of solutions for HR departments. AI software can be implemented to identify skill gaps and then plan and schedule appropriate training programs catered to the specific needs of individual employees. While many organizations already utilize some form of e-learning that allows employees to improve their skills, these programs are often not organized and implemented in a way that allows employees to get the most out of them. AI tools can solve this problem by organizing and presenting a more targeted learning experience. Incorporating machine learning into interactive learning tests and assessments also provides HR departments with additional data points that help them make future decisions regarding employee development.

Far from undermining HR departments, AI technologies offer a variety of exciting tools that can take on the burden of repetitive, low value tasks. By automating these processes, HR professionals are able to dedicate their valuable time to handling more complex duties that require extensive human interaction, such as career development and cultivating a more engaged workplace. Many organizations have already begun the process of incorporating AI into their hiring, evaluation, and retention practices. The sooner HR departments embrace these technologies, the sooner they will be prepared for changes in the future.