Embrace or ignore? Managing how candidates use GenAI

Feb 15, 2024 | Home Featured, How-to, Selection & assessment, Uncategorized

Forward-thinking employers have embraced AI, supporting candidate usage, explains Robert Newry, CEO and Co-Founder of Arctic Shores.

We’re at a crossroads. The rapid uptake of GenAI tools by candidates has thrown Talent Acquisition (TA) teams into a major dilemma. Do you follow your internal lead and encourage candidates to use it, or should you see its use as poor integrity by the candidate?

Forward-thinkers know they must embrace AI and have made changes to support, rather than deter, candidate usage. They have taken a leaf out of the education sector’s book and used this huge shift to the ‘GenAI-enabled candidate’ as an exciting chance to rethink how they level the playing field and unearth potential.

Lately, my conversations with TA professionals have revolved around the impact of candidates using GenAI poorly: from an influx of applications that are overly wordy or look alike (classic signs of poor GenAI usage), to the contrast between apparently high-quality applications, followed by subpar interview performances (when hiring managers discover the true capability and suitability of these AI-enabled candidates).

All this while TA teams operate on shoestring budgets, with limited capacity to rerun interviews or assessment centres.

The GenAI-powered candidate

Here’s the issue: most TA professionals are acutely aware that candidates are deploying GenAI tools to fill out online application forms, cover letters, CVs and even answer traditional, question-based psychometric assessments.

They’re witnessing a spike in the number of top-tier applications, eerily alike, thanks to tools like AutoApplyAI. And they’re noticing a discrepancy between these impressive applications and many candidates’ lacklustre performance in interviews or assessment centres (where their true capabilities come to light).

However, TA teams also understand that GenAI is being used by various diverse groups to level the playing field.

● 23% of Black and Mixed ethnic background candidates are likely to use ChatGPT in the selection process vs just 16% of white candidates

● Neurodiverse candidates are more likely to use ChatGPT than their neurotypical counterparts

● 51% of candidates with a household income below £20,000 are using ChatGPT vs 47% with a household income of £60,000 – £80,000

This presents an ethical quandary: promoting unfettered GenAI use could potentially undermine the selection process, but penalising it will disproportionately impact diverse groups.

No wonder so many teams are stuck in a state of indecision, trying to figure out their next move.

A golden ticket for TA disruptors

But TA teams don’t need to be caught in this deadlock. Where there’s chaos, there’s also opportunity. In this case, there’s a way to leverage GenAI usage, while maintaining the integrity of the selection process and cultivating diverse talent pools.

Here’s the challenge: right now, TA teams are playing one of three games with GenAI.

Option 1: you can’t sit with us

Banning GenAI usage might seem like the equivalent of nipping a problem in the bud. But let’s be real. Ignoring the employer brand perception, diverse groups are using these tools at higher rates. So, you’re essentially hitting the rewind button on diversity efforts.

Plus, unlike in the past, when new application practice tools were niche and behind paywalls, GenAI is the new kid everyone wants to hang out with. With 7 in 10 candidates planning to use these tools in the selection process, banning them is like telling a student they can’t use a calculator in a maths exam.

Option 2: the Swiss stance

Most TA teams prefer to sit on the fence when it comes to GenAI. Just take a peek at career sites to see how few mention GenAI use.

It’s an understandable reaction given the intricate, ever-changing nature of the situation. But neutrality often leads to candidates using these tools in ways that backfire.

For candidates, that means being ruled out for all the wrong reasons. For TA teams, it means you risk screening out diverse candidates at a disproportionate rate.

Option 3: turning lemons into lemonade

If we accept that GenAI is here to stay and that ignoring it could be a blow to diversity goals, then the only sensible option is to welcome GenAI usage in the selection process and guide candidates on what ‘good’ use looks like. It’s turning a challenge into an opportunity.

So, how do you wrap your arms around GenAI? What should TA Teams say on their career sites? And how do they strike the right tone without encouraging poor usage?

A practical guide

GenAI is throwing us a curveball, and the professionals I’ve spoken to are craving some solid, practical guidance to tackle the issue of poor GenAI usage – and ultimately prevent their work lives from becoming a tidal wave of confusion.

Arctic Shores, in partnership with our TA Disruptors community and companies like HelloFresh and Siemens, have pulled together The ultimate guide on how to talk to candidates about GenAI usage.

In this free guide, you’ll find:

1. Tips on where to permit GenAI use to keep your selection process as efficient as a well-oiled machine, while maintaining an attractive employer brand

2. Templates for career sites to steer candidates on acceptable GenAI use

3. Sample coaching content for candidates, helping them to wield GenAI effectively like a Jedi with a lightsaber.

As we step into this brave new world of GenAI-enabled candidates, it’s important to stay as agile and as open as your talent pool.

Our ultimate guide is more than just a guide; it’s a practical resource to help your careers site and recruitment process stand out, ensuring you harness the power of GenAI while keeping that human touch that’s so vital in our industry.

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