The state of artificial intelligence (AI) in recruitment in 2021

By now, you’ve likely heard of the impact artificial intelligence (AI) is having on the business world. Far from the dystopian wastelands depicted in the 80s and 90s sci-fi, AI is transforming the world of work by automating simple, repetitive tasks. This frees up time for more complex and creative work – the kind that requires a human touch.

In many ways, however, when it comes to the corporate world, AI is still in its infancy. And though AI in the HR space has been a trending topic for some time now, there’s still some confusion and concern on how best to use it.

The good news is there’s a lot of potential for AI to make a big impact in a positive way, especially when it comes to sourcing and hiring top talent. According to Josh Bersin, an expert in HR (and who we’ve written about before), AI is one of the fastest growing areas of recruitment.

“Digital transformation is here,” says Bersin in his latest report, HR Predictions for 2021. “In HR, this means we have to push forward with the simplification, integration, and design thinking of the digital work experience.”

the state of AI in recruitment in 2021

Why adopt AI recruiting software?

In 2017, a Deloitte study found that 33% of HR teams had already begun to integrate AI recruitment software into their processes, to great effect.

There is a lot of manual work involved in the hiring process. For example, it’s often so time-consuming to review resumes that recruiters only take about six seconds to scan one before deciding whether to move the candidate to the next round or not.

Candidates are more than just their job application, yet recruiters rarely have the luxury of reviewing every CV to find the best fit themselves.

Enter AI recruitment technology.

Of course, AI can be applied to the recruitment process in many more ways than simply screening CVs. Think intelligent virtual assistants who can schedule interviews, answer basic questions, and analyze remote interview performance for clues and social cues. Not only can it create efficiencies for hiring managers and recruiters, but sophisticated machine learning can also increase the number of successful hires, predict which candidate profile is likely to be a good fit for the job, and lead to more diverse workplaces. And the multiple benefits of having a diverse workforce are what gives businesses a thriving ground.

The impact of Covid-19 on recruitment

: The impact of Covid-19 on recruitment

Such positive results meant that in 2019, companies were already planning on investing even more in HR technologies.

Yet much has changed in the last 12 months, in large part due to Covid-19. The need to distance ourselves from one another means traditional recruiting processes – face-to-face interviews, for example – are no longer possible or advisable. In response, hiring has moved entirely online. Virtual interviews are the new normal, as is working from home.

Today, one of the biggest differences we’re seeing in the post-pandemic world is companies, now used to working remotely, are able to cast a global net to hire remote workers. A larger talent pool means more work for recruiters, who were already looking for solutions to help automate the more time-consuming parts of the hiring process.

It’s why some 24% of businesses have started using AI for their talent acquisition, with a further 56% of managers planning to adopt AI technology within the next 12 months, says Mark Perna, best-selling author and CEO. The global pandemic has accelerated the adoption of these digital technologies in order to keep up with recruitment demands.

Recruitment in 2021 has moved to a candidate-centered process; that is, building a recruitment process that puts the candidate at the center of it all.

Why this shift? We know that companies who work on improving their employee experience can grow revenues by up to 2.5 times that of their competitors, according to ADP’s 2019 Workforce View in Europe Report.

The candidate experience is becoming more important as a way of attracting and securing top talent, and as an extension of company branding. Some 77% of companies surveyed in LinkedIn’s 2020 Global Talent Trends also report focusing on employee experience as a way to increase retention rates – and that experience begins during the recruitment process.


This may explain why one of the most recent trends we’re seeing in the adoption of AI recruitment has been the increased use of chatbots throughout the hiring process. A chatbot is a software that simulates human conversation, allowing candidates to communicate with companies as if they were speaking with a real person using completely natural, conversational language.

This has several benefits: it frees up the recruiters’ time by responding to frequently asked questions; it’s convenient for the candidate as it can respond outside of business hours; and it can improve the candidate’s experience by providing another avenue of information that doesn’t require getting in touch with a recruiter (stressful much?).

Screening for cultural and personality fit

Of course, with the increasing automation of work (and not just within the recruitment process), soft skills have become more important than ever. After all, many technical skills can be, and are, learned on the job.

This knowledge isn’t new. A 2014 study found that 78% of business leaders viewed personality as the most desirable quality in an employee, followed by cultural fit, with their skill-set coming last.

The problem with soft skills is that they’re hard to assess, and we see this in the statistics: some 89% of bad hires often come down to a lack of required soft skills. Further, 68% of talent professionals say they rely on social cues and body language to assess whether or not a candidate would be a good fit for a role outside of the required technical skills.

Unfortunately, gut instinct isn’t always accurate.

AI-powered linguistic scanning tools (like Whaii Match) seek to bridge this gap. When candidates submit their resume and cover letter, AI-driven resume scanning tools can analyze the language used, identifying not only keywords for hard skills but linguistic markers for values, personality, and cultural preferences.

This can, in turn, reduce the risk of hiring the wrong person for the job, saving money, time, and stress for recruiters and hiring managers.

Objective decision-making

As human beings, we come with biases and prejudices that can be hard to unlearn. Using AI recruitment tools can be one option that can aid recruiters and hiring managers to find talent that they may not have ordinarily considered.

And as we’ve already said: gut instinct isn’t always accurate.

AI recruitment tools that ignore demographic information – names, where candidates live, or what school they went to, for example – is one way in which recruiters can remove their own inherent biases in order to make objective hiring decisions.

That doesn’t mean AI is perfect. After all, they’re programmed by imperfect humans! But it does mean that hiring managers have another tool they can use in order to find the best person for the job.


See how Whaii Match can take objective hiring to a whole new level