Artificial intelligence is bringing changes to all aspects of the hiring process. Could it ever replace negotiation?
At Innovation Congress, a recent conference about staying competitive amidst rapidly changing technology, speakers discussed how companies are using AI to screen candidates.
Estee Lauder is using new video technologies to "open up the funnel of candidates and leverage technology to screen them, so that human interaction happens at the right time," said Michael Bowes, vice president of global talent, who spoke on a panel discussion about the future of work and talent. "This way, all the stuff that can be done by machines is done, and you can focus."
Bowes said Estée Lauder uses characteristics like tonality and word choice in screenings as part of the hiring process for beauty advisors, the customer service and sales representatives who work at beauty counters. They will hire 30,000 beauty advisors alone next year.
At this volume, it's easy to see why a company would want to use AI to narrow the field. But some panelists expressed misgivings. It's not hard to imagine candidates trying to game the system. One concern is whether AI would help or hinder diverse candidates who often face hiring and negotiation challenges. Do human biases extend to our artificial counterparts?
As Leslie Bradshaw, fellow panelist, entrepreneur at Bionic Solution (and Forbes contributor
), put it, "someone had to program that algorithm."
Bradshaw said that the breaks she got early in her career came from connections, not credentials, and that she wouldn't want to work at a place where screeners replaced humans.
Some companies are embracing technology solutions that are specifically designed to help reduce unconscious bias in the hiring process. One company, Blendoor, designed software to present candidates to companies without their name, age, photo or university information.
But could companies ever delegate negotiation to a computer? Would they?
"Human interaction will never be replaced," said Stephan Theringer, a panelist and founder of the Human Innovation Garage. "That piece about how someone fits to culture will never be replaced by AI."
Enter Cindy Gallop.
Gallop, who gave the conference's closing keynote, is the English advertising consultant known for her widely-viewed TED Talk, "Make love, not porn."
She knows a thing or two about negotiation. On Equal Pay Day this year, Gallop partnered with advertising agency R/GA, PayScale and The Muse to launch CindyBot, a Facebook Messenger chatbot to help women ask for a raise.
"It's like having me in your pocket," Gallop said.
The bot gives users a pep talk on why they should ask for more and tips on what to ask for, all in Gallop's signature colorful language.
I had the opportunity to ask Gallop myself whether she thought one-on-one negotiation would soon be replaced with a technology solution, and whether that would even be a good thing.
She told me that technology has already changed things significantly by giving job seekers access to more information through websites like PayScale. Having access to that information is a good thing, and it gives candidates more knowledge and grounds to ask for higher salaries.
But ultimately, she agreed: AI could never replace the human interaction elements of negotiation.