New Survey: TA Leaders Are Grappling with AI’s Impact on How and Whom They Hire

Generative AI (Gen AI) is rapidly reshaping work for many professionals. However, for talent acquisition professionals focused on technical hiring, AI is changing not only how they find top talent but also whom they hire.  

In our recent survey of more than 500 talent acquisition (TA) leaders, commissioned through our research partner Zogby Analytics, we found that TA leaders are divided about how their companies can and should use AI to assess technical talent.

Although they acknowledge how Gen AI tools have become essential for developers and engineers, TA leaders are concerned AI might eliminate some recruiting jobs. 

Some of the survey’s key findings include: 

  • Gen AI skills are in demand: 96% of TA leaders believe it is important for technical candidates to have experience with Gen AI.
  • TA is already using Gen AI: 98% of TA leaders are aware of and have at least had discussions about how to leverage Gen AI in their recruiting process, and 52% already are using Gen AI in some capacity.
  • Candidate fraud is a top concern: 95% of respondents are concerned about candidate fraud in the hiring process, and 63% said they would likely consider it fraudulent if candidates used Gen AI tools during a skills assessment or coding test.

“Many survey respondents expressed concern about generative AI eliminating some recruiting positions in the future,” said Dan Finnigan, CEO of Filtered, in a press release. “But we see a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for talent acquisition professionals to use AI to solve many of their pain points while continuing to focus on the aspects of the job that will always require a human touch.

“The technical hiring process has been broken for a long time, and previous efforts to use automation through tactics like resume screening were ineffective. Now, AI technology has advanced sufficiently to enable efficiency gains while still applying a human-centric, skills-based approach.”

             RELATED: Find out what technical job candidates think about the hiring process. READ SURVEY RESULTS HERE

In short, how TA leaders view the current state and the future of technical work is complicated.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of our survey’s findings and our perspective on what the results mean:  

Technical job candidates need Gen AI skills

TA leaders are nearly unanimous when it comes to the importance of generative AI skills: 96% responded that using tools like ChatGPT, Bard, and Copilot is essential for top technical candidates. 

Our analysis: As Gen AI tools continue to evolve and mature, we believe that most engineering jobs will shift beyond pure coding positions — putting a premium on problem-solving skills and the ability to use AI tools.” Assessing these skills — with skills-based hiring processes and platforms — will also become increasingly important. 

Many deem the use of Gen AI tools on code tests as ‘fraudulent’

While TA leaders acknowledge the importance of developers using Gen AI as part of their jobs, the hiring industry hasn’t accepted using these tools on code tests and hiring assessments. Some 45% of respondents definitively see it as fraud, while another 17% would “probably” view it as fraud.  

Our analysis: This inherent contradiction is likely a byproduct of the industry being in a transition. As Gen AI becomes more entrenched in technical work, inevitably, hiring leaders will also embrace candidates using those tools during assessments.

With technical assessment platforms such as Filtered, hiring teams can administer assessments that simulate the work environment — complete with toolsets their technical teams use on the job, including Gen AI. These job simulations can also be used to assess the candidate’s abilities in “prompt engineering” and other skills related to leveraging AI tools.  

TA leaders concerned about AI’s impact on their jobs

With Gen AI creating uncertainty for many workers, talent acquisition leaders are also concerned about its effect on the longevity of their careers.

Some 74% said they are worried that Gen AI will eliminate recruiting positions and make it harder to have a long-term career in the profession. Meanwhile, 52% also said they are currently using tools including ChatGPT and Bard to help do their jobs. 

Our analysis: This unease is to be expected given the rapid emergence of Gen AI and the unknowns that come with any new technology.

However, there are opportunities for workers across fields to use these new tools to supplement their work. And, like many technologies, Gen AI may create new kinds of (human) positions, including in talent acquisition.

Fraud is a major concern for TA leaders

The pandemic shifted much of the global workforce from traditional office space to remote work. Meanwhile, as the economy slips into a potential recession, many companies have responded with job cuts — leading to an increase in job seekers.

The two trends have combined to make it increasingly difficult for TA leaders to vet talent with traditional methods of qualifying candidates – extensive interviews, checking references, and personal relationships. That includes identifying and eliminating fraud from the hiring process. 

Our analysis: Technology, and AI in particular, can help hiring teams combat candidate fraud. Automated skill assessments can be designed to verify candidates have the actual skills they need to do the job — and also include controls in place to flag and block fraudulent behavior. 

The tech hiring process is too time-consuming — especially the early stages

Asked about top pain points in their technical hiring process, 35% said their interview process was disorganized and took too long, 34% reported their interview process wasn’t effective at selecting the best candidates, 32% of respondents mentioned wasting too much time on unqualified candidates, and 31% said they couldn’t keep up with the number of candidate applications. 

And while the rise of remote work has been a boon for talent acquisition leaders looking to source more technical talent, that abundance has also led half (50%) to say that it’s now harder to evaluate candidates due to the large applicant volume. 

For 40% of respondents, narrowing down the list of first-round candidates into second-round candidates is the most time-consuming part of the hiring process. 

Our analysis: Companies have an opportunity to leverage automation through skills-based hiring platforms, such as Filtered, to assess technical talent early in the hiring process — and efficiently disqualify those whose skills aren’t a good fit for the position.

By reducing the size of the funnel early — and using tools to assess technical skill alignment — talent acquisition teams can spend more time probing on attributes such as soft skills and culture fit in initial screens and interviews.  

TA leaders want to embrace skills-based hiring, but must update processes to do so

Talent acquisition leaders say they want to use a skills-based approach, but in reality, many are still relying on resumes as a primary decision point.

Some 92% of respondents say they’ve already implemented a skills-based approach in their hiring process. However, when asked what the most effective tool is in assessing if candidates have the skills to do the job, 54% listed either the candidate’s educational background or their professional background.

Our analysis: There are different levels of skills-based hiring. Many companies are using a hybrid of traditional hiring practices — e.g. factoring in educational history or past work — and technical assessments to determine fit.

We expect, however, that the needle will continue to move more toward pure skills-based hiring, and deemphasizing pedigree, over time. 

Reducing bias in tech hiring is nearly a unanimous priority

Reducing bias in the interview process is top of mind for most talent acquisition leaders — and in fact, nearly all respondents (99%) said their companies have taken steps to reduce it.

The three most common choices were focusing on demonstrated skills rather than resumes (54%), having a defined rubric or assessment system to measure skills (49%), and removing demographic information from candidate profiles/applications (45%).

Our analysis: Eliminating interview bias is somewhat intertwined with the industry’s movement toward skills-based hiring.

As more companies focus on hiring for the specific skills they need — and are less interested in pedigree and relationships — bias will naturally be reduced. 

Despite macro job market trends, tech talent is still in demand

Despite economic uncertainties, 78% of talent acquisition professionals say that their companies are either growing quickly and hiring as much as they can for technical roles or operating at the same pace as they normally would.

Less than a quarter reported any kind of hiring slowdown. 

Our analysis: Digital transformation continues to take place across a range of industries, requiring companies of all shapes, sizes, and legacies to grow their technical capabilities and teams to compete.

While some tech giants have trimmed operational staff in the past few months, most are also heavily investing in research and development. Meanwhile, AI is just in the early stages of fueling new opportunities for digital services and products — and creating additional demand for developers. 

Network security among top talent sought by hiring companies

Survey respondents said network security engineers (48%) and system security managers (44%) represent two of the top three most common technical positions hired for in the past year, along with AI/ML engineers. 

Our analysis: Today's landscape of IoT devices, BYOD programs, and the increased use of wireless technologies create a large attack surface area for hackers. These attacks are becoming increasingly difficult to detect and more sophisticated, prompting companies to hire more security personnel. 

Cloud engineering skills most difficult to assess

Talent acquisition leaders identified cloud engineering skills (25%) as the most difficult to assess, followed by machine learning/data science (19%).

Our analysis: As the work of our modern-day digital builders continues to get more complicated, talent acquisition teams will have an increasingly difficult time determining whether candidates have the technical skills needed to succeed in a given role.

Companies will need skill assessments that are more like job simulations and less like basic code tests to help TA teams properly identify qualified candidates. 

‘Being unprepared’ the biggest candidate red flag

When it comes to red flags for talent acquisition leaders, the biggest factor is a candidate’s behavior during the hiring process.

One-quarter (25%) of respondents named their biggest red flag as “constant rescheduling and disorganization” from a candidate, while 29% listed “being unprepared.” Meanwhile, survey respondents don’t seem to be concerned about gaps in employment history, which has long been perceived as a red flag among candidates

Our analysis: We believe the most significant finding is the lack of concern over employment history. This is another indicator that skills-based hiring is taking precedence over work history and education.