Business leaders around the world are struggling with how to make best use of artificial intelligence. At the recent SHRM India Annual Conference & Expo 2023 in Delhi, HR technology companies shared how they're already using AI.
Essentially, AI is the ability of a computer system to perform tasks that are normally done by humans. In the last few years, many new technologies have started performing work that humans have historically done, such as software programs that match job descriptions with resumes.
While some experts say such programs can't strictly be called AI because the system isn't "thinking" for itself, but rather being pre-fed keywords that it identifies to produce a certain result, the implications of AI in the workplace are far-reaching.
[SHRM members-only HR Q&A: What is artificial intelligence and how is it used in the workplace?]
The AI game was upped last year after the launch of OpenAI's ChatGPT, which harnesses generative AI to interact with users in a chat-like format. This large language model—and others, such as Google's Bard—relies on an existing body of available general intelligence to create new content. ChatGPT can generate resumes, write essays, create images, and even build charts and tables.
"Essentially, generative AI is giving us a ready-made brain; all we need to do is use that brain in a very good way," said Mridul Kumar, senior vice president of products at HirePro, a virtual hiring and assessment platform in Bengaluru.
Here are five ways in which some form of AI is already assisting HR in India.
The Friendly Chatbot for Employees
Many companies now have chatbots to assist and engage employees.
Bots help answer typical HR queries—like the amount of pending leave—by scouring the company policy.
Some chatbots can offer suggestions to the employee, making them seem more human. For instance, if the employee types into the chat, "I'm feeling sick," the bot may respond by asking if the employee wants to take sick leave and share how many days of sick leave are available.
"It is helping with your decision-making," said Rajesh Tripathi, founder and CEO of Kenbox Technologies, a company in Delhi that offers bots as part of its HR management solutions.
Meanwhile, outsourcing firm Genpact, in Gurugram, uses a chatbot that pings employees four times a year to check how they are feeling. Based on their answers, the system prepares a mood score, which gives managers an idea of the satisfaction level of employees, said Genpact CHRO Piyush Mehta.
Checking Remote Hiring Fraud
AI is offering ways to check potential fraud in online assessment tests or video interviews.
At HirePro, which facilitates virtual hiring, their technology analyzes the video and images of the candidate to make sure the person matches with the official ID and documentation in the job application, Kumar said. In the video interview, AI picks up aberrations, such as if someone else is detected by the camera or another voice is picked up. Based on this, it gives recommendations as to whether the candidate is engaging in any suspicious behavior that needs to reviewed by a human, Kumar said.
Generative AI could take this a step further, by potentially asking questions to verify experience or other claims made by the candidate, Kumar said. "This is a very exciting phase for us now," he noted.
Shortlisting and Scoring Job Candidates
AI is performing a variety of recruitment tasks at a large scale.
"It can read 1,000 resumes, look at the job description and check which one is going to match, contextual to the company," said Prasad Rajappan, founder and managing director of ZingHR, a Mumbai-based human capital management platform that offers robotic process automation to its clients.
Rajappan said his company's system can also conduct robotic interviews that are personalized to the candidate. For instance, if the bot asks the candidate what type of coding she does and gets a response "ReactJS," the bot will ask further questions based on ReactJS. "So, that is AI coming in," Rajappan said. "This is already live."
Some companies are using AI to score candidates on subjective assessments.
Unstop, a talent recruitment and engagement platform, has been performing such assessments for clients, said Ankit Aggarwal, founder and CEO of the Delhi-based company.
For instance, if candidates have been asked to submit an analysis of a case study, Unstop's AI-powered tool evaluates the answers based on metrics such as whether the answer is in the right direction, Aggarwal said.
Competency and Skills-Mapping
Some HR technology companies are using AI to ascertain individuals' competencies and skills.
When college students participate in Unstop's hackathons—online engineering and coding contests—the company's AI uses the contest results to rate the participant on various skills. For instance, the system may give the participant a rating of 7/10 for product management, 8/10 for data science, and 9/10 on software development. Then the employer can decide which job profile best fits the participant, Aggarwal said.
Similarly, AI-powered systems can look at employees' education, training, work experience and career goals to identify skills gaps and map competencies needed to reach the goals.
Automating Repetitive Tasks
There are several software programs or bots that perform many people-related administrative tasks that were previously being done manually.
For instance, when an employee joins an organization, they would need to share several documents like their government identity card and income tax ID card, which in turn must be fed into the organization's database in a certain format. Historically, someone would manually verify these documents and type in the details in the company database. However, technologies like optical character recognition, or OCR, which have become commonly available in the last few years, allow the system to read images and PDFs scanned by an employee, then fill in the required details in the company's format. "It happens in seconds," Rajappan said.
Shefali Anand is a New Delhi-based journalist and former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. You can follow her on X, formerly known as Twitter.