March 1, 2016

Are you ready for cognitive recruitment?

How cognitive technology will change the recruitment of tomorrow.

by Andreas Christiansen

By understanding cutting-edge technology presented at the IBM InterConnect conference the past week, you can shape your recruitment strategy to accommodate the cognitive transformation.

Cloud as the foundation

While Cloud has been a hot topic for some time, it is clear that competing without relying on the cloud for storing information about candidates is a sure way to be left behind the curve when it comes to recruitment.

Even though you may not be utilising your data in sophisticated ways yet i.e. predicting candidate performance or analysing unstructured data, it is an advantage to store all data in the cloud – especially for future mining and insights as your sophistication with data-driven recruitment improves.

IBMInterconnect - Cognitive Recruitment

However, the Cloud is not merely the end goal, as Robert LeBlanc, Senior VP, IBM Cloud says: “It’s not about moving to the cloud, it’s about using the data you have there.”

Recruitment and IoT

While we have already seen a rapid increase in the amount of tools and data-points available to recruiters, we have only scratched the surface in terms of novel approaches to screening candidates. The IoT, Internet of Things, refers to the data coming from different sources such as connected devices, as well as unstructured data such as video, voice and text. A few cool examples of new data sources relevant for recruitment includes:


Video software is not revolutionary in recruitment, and while it provides clear advantages in terms of efficiency, the problem with video is that it is prone to all the biases in human judgement just as face-to-face recruitment.

During the InterConnect conference, Twilio demonstrated how they could use AI to determine the sentiment of a person using video. Although this technology is still at an infant stage, you better start smiling to the camera. This data-driven approach to video may soon be viable in correcting some of the human biases in candidate assessment.

Mobile Devices.

Mobile devices are not a standard data-point in recruitment. However, devices such as Fitbit does not only provide data about physical activity. During the general sessions of Interconnect, Runkeeper showed how they could predict personality traits such as Inventiveness from the routes that people choose when they run. Keep in mind that this is solely based on location from a phone. Similar and more reliable inferences will be possible once other devices start communicating about our behavior.

Internet of People.

Have you ever imagined knowing everything that has been thought and said about an applicant? During the past decade, crowdsourcing has revolutionised information paradigmes across industries. However, IoT is not just about things, but also about people. Like you and me, and John at the end of the table.

Praice is an example of how the Internet of People can help generate a more reliable data source about the personalities of potential candidates that can help recruiters make more informed hiring decisions.

IoT meets Cognitive.

All of the above examples rely on the application of different aspects of “cognitive technology” – as IBM calls it. As ‘cognitive’ is usually the scientific study of mind and mental function in psychology, it may seem a little strange that we refer to technology as cognitive.

‘Cognitive’ means that the system learns and adapts to the specific context as well as communicates in natural language and reasons leveraging unstructured data. Ultimately, the goal of this technology in recruitment is to be able to understand and reliably predict what factors create performance.

IBMInterconnect - Cognitive Recruitment

In 2016, only 1% of all applications can be classified as cognitive. According to IBM, 50% of all applications will be cognitive by 2018.

All of this may sound a bit overwhelming, but fear not; the point is not to get everything perfect, as Leo Brajkovich from IBM Analytics says, but to steer in the right direction.

When we advise companies on becoming data-driven in their recruitment strategy, we follow the same line of thinking: start small and build from there. It doesn’t need to be a complex or expensive setup, but recognise that cognitive recruitment represents a major shift in thinking and competencies that will take time. Failing to adapt will impose a massive strategic disadvantage on your company.

Never miss out on interesting recruitment insights