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Heriot-Watt professor believes AI can transform traditional recruitment processes

Talal Shaikh, Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies for the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences, Heriot-Watt University Dubai, sheds light on the different ways AI can further employee well-being and the efficiency of the recruitment process.

There’s no question that the demand for AI is growing exponentially. In recent years, there has been an unprecedented demand for AI solutions across a broad range of industries. With worldwide funding of AI start-ups reaching $20bn in Q2 of 2021 as shown in a report by CB insights, a number that’s more than double the total for the same quarter in the previous year, there are exciting opportunities ahead for multiple industries.

HR is one of the industries that have been transformed by AI. This is because finding the right candidate involves data such as a candidate’s details and search processes conducted by organisations. The use of AI in managing and optimising this data has become very valuable due to its role in facilitating the efficiency of the recruitment process. It is noteworthy that the use of AI is not merely confined to talent acquisition, but also in employee retention and communication.

In fact, employee turnover is one of the major concerns of companies worldwide. There has been a global trend of employees rethinking their career options since the on-set of COVID-19. According to a survey by Robert Walters, two thirds of professionals in the MENA region were looking to move jobs in the first half of 2022.

As such, the role of AI in facilitating communication with employees and hiring the right candidates has become more pressing than ever before.


Alleviating the load of sifting through countless applications can help HR personnel allocate time to improve communication with existing employees and seek the right talents. According to Capterra, a software research service, 75% percent of companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), a software that acts as a database for job applicants as it helps the application process. In fact, many applications are rejected by the ATS before reaching recruitment professionals.

This is because AI-powered scanning can collect and sort applications through scanning keywords to assess the suitability of applicants for the role. Additionally, ATS solutions can help companies find the right candidates at the right time by helping companies keeping track of potential candidates. Overall, these innovative technologies allow for more efficiency in the hiring process with optimal results while leveraging the human element to connect with candidates.

Automating employee communications

AI-backed chatbots can enable HR teams to ensure efficiency of internal communications by keeping the engagement and conversation going with employees going all year long. Chatbots can ensure that all information relating to policy changes, announcements, leave approvals and more are conveyed to employees. This serves to save time for HR teams and reduces the possibility of communication errors.

Currently, chatbots are also advanced enough to provide natural, human-like communication that has the capacity to engage in personalised conversation. This data can also be used in addressing specific concerns that employees have, which in turn helps HR practitioners understand overall sentiment, find necessary action points, and consequently boost engagement and reduce turnover.

Candidate Resumes on Smart Digital Forms

AI provides HR departments and prospective candidates with the opportunity to automate repetitive tasks and focus on more strategic and creative work. Automating steps of the onboarding processes can free time spent on overseeing every step thus allowing HR employees to allocate their time on more important tasks such as mentoring and connecting with new employees.

Traditionally, new applicants are required to re-enter their details multiple times during the hiring process. To ensure candidates are not left with a poor impression of the company and to facilitate the efficiency of the process, AI can help candidates transfer information to smart digital platforms that can store this information and facilitate completing applications in less time. As such, AI can automatically recognise relevant information as required and insert it where relevant in future forms.

Finally, as companies are realising the need to invest in candidate experience during the recruitment process, AI is increasingly being used to analyse the previous experiences and interests of candidates to match them with the roles they are better suited for.

Employee Development programmes and training

With AI-powered HR training modules, employees can study and learn about their roles and responsibilities. For employees to progress in their careers, AI-powered systems can recommend relevant skill sets based on their job description. AI applications in HR technology can analyse employee data and alert HR staff to training needs.

Despite the benefits of AI for both candidates and HR personnel, it is important that organisations invest effort in promoting responsibility in the use of AI-based tools. Companies should ensure that HR teams have a good understanding of AI ethics and data protection. Most importantly, trainings about how to optimise the use of AI and interpret data is essential to streamline the HR process. Developing a thorough understanding of the use of AI helps to fully leverage its full potential and alleviate distrust of AI systems.

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