HR Transformation – How Algorithms are replacing the Traditional Hiring Approach

By Published August 16, 2017
HR transformation

The advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics and Machine Learning made the traditional hiring processes to take a back seat. The rapid candidate market shift pushed the organization to leverage these disruptive technologies to hire the best and brightest faster than a competition. In the following blog, let’s explore some compelling cases of HR transformation involved brands like Mercer and Unilever and how they are innovating the recruitment function.

HR transformation

Radical Hiring Experiment by Unilever

Saniya Jaffer received the summer position in information technology at Unilever might not be the news for you, but the way she was hired has made some serious impact in modern-day hiring practice. After three rounds of assessments and interviews, Ms. Jaffer encountered the first human in the process, which is also the last round of selection.

Before then, she had filled out a job application, submitted online videos of herself responding to questions about how she would tackle the challenges of the job as well as playing some video games. Eventually, she found herself in front of a hiring manager – because a series of algorithms recommended her.

Unilever is one of the leading FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) conglomerates, with billion dollar brands like Lipton, Axe, and Dove and has 170,000 employees globally. In one of the statements issued by VP of human resources for North America, Mike Clementi,

“We were going to campus the same way I was recruited over 20 years ago. Inherently something didn’t feel right.”

Hence, the radical hiring experiment came into the picture.

How do they do it?

To get the word out about the open job positions, Unilever strategically placed the job adverts on career advice sites and Facebook. Those who clicked on the ads are directed to the career site where they could apply for the internship and entry level jobs. Here, it took few minutes for candidates to fill the application form as Unilever already pulled the information from candidate’s LinkedIn profile.

In the next step, algorithms came into the picture that scanned 275,400 applications in all so far – to identify the candidates who meet a given role’s requirements.

According to the Joelle Hutcheon, a Unilever spokeswoman, “software weeds out more than half of the pool.”

Subsequently, candidates are asked to play a set of twelve short online games developed to assess skills like short term memory and concentration under pressure. The top third of those applicants are asked to submit their video interviews through an app or a website – answering questions about how they would act in response to business challenges combatted on the job.

At steps mentioned above, artificial intelligence can sift between 60% and 80% candidates. To identify which candidates are in all likelihood to be successful at Unilever, the AI uses the data points received from given tasks.

A final in-person interview with organizations’ HR managers and executives eventually became the first step involving direct human judgment.

According to Unilever, “Hiring has become more accurate and faster – 80 percent of applicants who make it to the final round of interview received the job offer, and a similar number accept – and saved substantially on recruiting costs”.

Let’s take a look at another interesting case of HR transformation where Mercer is leveraging the automation to source talent.

Mercer Match – The new way to hire

Mercer match is not only about discovering the right candidate among those who already work in a particular industry. It is about facilitating people to tap into their hidden talent and maximize their potential.

How it works

Mercer made an efficient use of gamification to assess candidates for faster and quality hiring. Mercer Match evaluate candidates based on 80 different traits both emotional and cognitive.

Mercer Match

When candidates play Mercer match games, there is no losing or winning – just the assessment of different qualities. The attributes required for sales, an IT role and a creative position, are vastly different. The games are designed in such a way that it helps an organization to assess candidates’ capabilities like, processing speed and attention to details. Then there is also an assessment of emotional traits of candidates by analyzing an image of person’s eye while viewing the given conception.

Unilever and Mercer are just one of many examples of how organizations are incorporating artificial intelligence into their recruitment processes to make it faster and better.

The organization’s ability to find and nurture talent has always been the cornerstone. Hence, organizations are progressively automating the more humdrum tasks of the business environment, so the obligatory caliber of new hires is ever increasing. With this hunt for higher quality candidates comes amplified investments from companies. These enterprises are fueling the HR transformation at greater scale by investing heavily in AI, robotics and other HR technologies.


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