Article: AI-driven HR systems: Identifying the future of talent assessment at TechHR India 2023

Talent Management

AI-driven HR systems: Identifying the future of talent assessment at TechHR India 2023

As organisations are integrating AI into HR systems for talent assessment, the think tank panel at TechHR India 2023 emphasised the importance of maintaining a human touch in talent management through data analysis and feedback mechanisms, while AI and humans co-exist.
AI-driven HR systems: Identifying the future of talent assessment at TechHR India 2023

“Evaluating employees performance including of managers/team leads, we need to define talent management, performance management integrated with AI for a predictive analysis, so we can build productive analysis/assessment process, said Anupama Kaul, Head HR of Cummins India, in a think tank session ‘Future of Talent Assessment’ at TechHR India 2023

Payal Nambiar, Senior VP & Head of HR of Spinny added, "AI adoption has significantly gone up, therefore, the organisations are looking for talent that is skilled for the AI-transformed workplace"

Ganeshan P, Senior VP of HR & Admin of People Interactive ( also shared, "It's extremely important for organisations to move on to digital hiring process (instead of manual hiring), similarly it is crucial for candidates to go digital for the better hiring process, as it is backed with AI, making it a fast, smooth hiring process, that also offers a great feedback mechanism for them"

Moderating the session, Jyothis KS, Co-founder and Head of Growth at Zappyhire, said, “Around six years back when people talked about AI, including myself, it was somewhat akin to Air India, rather than artificial intelligence.”

Current state of AI adoption in talent assessment

To answer the question on AI adoption in talent assessment, Payal shared, “There are relatively few adopters at present due to the novelty of the concept. However, over the past year, the adoption rate has noticeably increased. There's been a surge in deployments across industries, both within HR and beyond. Organisations are focusing on finding the right talent by aligning candidate profiles with job requirements. 

For instance, at Spinny, a well-established unicorn in the car trading industry with over 6000 employees and 85 hubs, we consider ourselves a medium-sized organisation and are dwelling in the space of AI. Over the past three years, our journey has included securing funding in 2021, resulting in an uptick in monthly hiring—up to 350 people per month. To attract and engage this talent effectively, we're utilising platforms like LinkedIn Analytics, Jobtwine, and others that employ AI to broaden our reach through job fairs and online ads. 

As for diversity of talent, we're hiring mechanics, evaluators, product managers, program managers, and sales professionals. To facilitate this, we've partnered with vendors offering hiring assessments and coding assessments. We're also actively exploring predictive analytics to identify thriving roles and create talent pipelines for the future. This approach aims to blend AI's capabilities with human oversight, which remains crucial, especially in diverse talent acquisition.”

Measuring great performance with AI 

Anupama explains, “Every organisation tends to define its own interpretation of great performance. Over the years, we have pursued global benchmarks to identify opportunities for process enhancement and refined our performance management approach by transitioning from a conventional rating scale to performance categories. Through this change, we've established four distinct performance categories, which also bring an element of consistency to minimise potential bias in the way each leader delineates these categories. For example, 

  • When designating an individual as not meeting expectations, we've elaborated that the person's performance has fallen below 80% of the agreed-upon objectives, coupled with our organisational values. Speaking of which, our values hold paramount importance, thus prompting us to implement these adjustments.
  • Additionally, we've made alterations for evaluating managers' performance. This evaluation now resides within the system itself, rather than being confined to one-on-one assessments or leaders making individual determinations about each manager's performance. To achieve this, we've introduced performance categorisation. When assessing my own leader, for instance, I must assign a performance category to various parameters that define their role as a leader. All these facets have been consolidated onto a unified platform. 

Our performance management, competency assessment, and leadership potential evaluations all reside within the same talent management system. With this infrastructure in place, we are poised to leverage AI in the future. Though currently, most of us in this room are not actively utilising AI, the groundwork has been established. 

The predictive analysis holds the potential to assist us in gauging trends that emerge in the talent landscape, ultimately aiding us in employing talent assessment to its fullest potential in terms of productivity. To clarify, we may not be employing AI right now, but our systems are primed and prepared for its integration when the time comes.”

AI systems enhancing job seekers' experience 

AI and human elements should coexist effectively in talent acquisition, ensuring a seamless and engaging candidate experience, Ganesh shared, “At, we've harnessed AI for talent engagement by studying employee sentiment and behaviours for insights. This ongoing analysis helps in understanding user preferences and behaviours, which in turn informs our engagement strategies. While AI is an essential tool, we've found that candidates still value human interaction. Whether it's through AI platforms or in-person interactions, both play vital roles in the talent acquisition journey. For instance, when transitioning from manual hiring to digital domains, the challenge is to ensure that the efficiency and user-friendliness of AI platforms do not compromise the warmth and personal connection that humans provide. Internal mobility, as well as external hiring, benefit from this blend, striking a balance that optimises the talent acquisition process while upholding the unique qualities humans bring. Understanding user behaviour is paramount when it comes to platforms like, considering the wide spectrum of users with diverse needs and preferences.  

Similarly, in the realm of talent acquisition, transitioning from manual processes to digital platforms requires meticulous attention to candidate experience. The importance of a seamless and user-friendly interface cannot be overstated. Ensuring that the candidate journey is smooth, informative, and efficient is vital in today's competitive environment, where candidates have multiple options. Maintaining a positive candidate experience is particularly crucial during periods of high demand, like the pandemic, when candidates have several offers on the table. The interface should not only facilitate ease of application but also contribute to a well-informed hiring decision. This means that the experience a candidate has on the platform should provide valuable insights for making informed choices about hiring.”

AI tools in hiring enable feedback mechanism 

Feedbacks are crucial for gaining insights from various perspectives and identifying areas for improvement, attesting this statement, Ganeshan said, “Refusing to seek feedback implies a presumption that our actions are inherently correct, overlooking the perspectives of candidates or users. To counteract this, we're actively developing a comprehensive feedback mechanism. Notably, even during our previous in-person interviews, we placed considerable importance on post-interview impressions. This included factors such as the candidates' experience during their time at the venue, which we then distilled into a succinct set of six or seven questions, spanning a multitude of parameters. 

Payal added, “When dealing with a highly diverse talent pool, particularly within a progressive new-age organisation aiming to shatter conventional norms, the approach should encompass not only enhancing visibility but also ensuring a swift and effective talent attraction process. This involves engaging candidates through various means such as assessments and interviews, with a keen focus on the journey itself. The objective is not solely to inform candidates about the company but also to foster meaningful engagement that ultimately leads to successful conversions. This principle holds true, especially within the context of startups. Despite my 18 years of experience, my most recent year in a startup setting has been a revelation. It has fundamentally altered my perspective on how talent attraction functions, particularly when the organisation's name is still gaining prominence in the industry.

Turning employees into brand ambassadors

Providing a positive candidate experience, regardless of the hiring outcome, can significantly enhance brand reputation. However, as Payal pointed out, in industries with specific constraints on hiring from competitors, it becomes essential to implement a cooling-off period before engaging potential talent. This period allows for a thorough reassessment of candidates' profiles with meticulous attention to detail. 

AI streamlining the recruitment process 

AI-driven HR tools facilitate a seamless candidate selection process, effectively bridging the gap between current recruitment needs and future talent requirements. Payal explained, “Our industry operates within a highly unorganised landscape, with only a fraction being organised. This is precisely the realm we are delving into. However, there exists a vast reservoir of untapped talent within the unorganised sector, and that's where our focus lies. Our current approach involves harnessing the power of LinkedIn analytics, Jobtwine, and Anberry, all of which provide AI-driven tools. These tools enable us to establish a strong online presence, thereby attracting talent through avenues such as job fairs and online advertisements. The goal is to convert this talent pool into valuable assets for our organisation. The diversity we seek to embrace goes beyond the conventional sense and encompasses varied backgrounds and experiences. We have successfully onboarded individuals with as little as 8th or 10th-grade education, originating from mechanical backgrounds with prior experience in local mechanic shops. By offering them structured career paths and growth prospects in a more organised setting, we've achieved exceptional results.

While our focus remains on optimising our Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and enhancing touchpoints with our talent pool, we are also exploring avenues beyond this. This includes 

  • Strengthening reference-based hiring 
  • Expanding referral database 

Parallelly, our forward-thinking corporate workforce, enriched with IMI Pedigree backgrounds, consistently channels their innovative mindset towards solving challenges. This is evident in the creation of our recruitment dashboards, designed to cater to the distinct needs of our organisation. Looking ahead, we envision incorporating predictive models to identify thriving roles that warrant greater attention, for developing talent pipelines for upcoming skill requirements,”

Combating human bias with an AI system

While our organisation is still in the early stages of adopting AI in various processes, I strongly believe that it can contribute to reducing biases, even if not eliminating them entirely, explained Anupama. Adding, "The aim is to foster a diverse workforce, and when left solely to hiring managers, unconscious biases tend to surface. Despite efforts to educate and raise awareness, these biases are deeply ingrained and challenging to eradicate completely. I firmly believe that this is where AI can play a significant role, particularly in screening applicants based on their skill sets rather than personal biases. It can minimise biases related to factors like gender or compensation, which often cloud hiring decisions. These are the very issues that occupy a hiring manager's thoughts. AI's potential to recognise skill sets while minimising such biases can greatly enhance our hiring process, making it more efficient and effective.

Previously, it was mentioned that waiting for 90 days to hire is not practical. Our organisation is still in the midst of navigating this phase, promising heightened efficiency and effectiveness. However, the conundrum arises when it comes to internal hiring, therefore, we question whether AI should be introduced in such cases, as in this context, the human touch remains essential. Moreover, assessments by leaders become paramount and hold greater significance than in external hiring processes. Nonetheless, I am confident that AI's value will be apparent. To conclude, while the internal mobility process should retain its human touch, the application of AI offers promising benefits.”

Identifying right blend of AI and human

Are we losing the human touch as we are adopting AI systems for recruitment? Anupama answered, "I don't believe we can entirely eliminate the human touch, regardless of how much automation or AI we implement. The key lies in where AI comes into play and how it enhances our effectiveness and efficiency. Achieving a balance is crucial, one that allows AI to contribute without overshadowing the human factor. This equilibrium can be well-defined, leading organisations to excel in selecting the right talent. The coexistence of human involvement and AI is vital. It's about striking the right balance and fostering a collaborative partnership."

Ganesh added, “One aspect we've embraced is enhancing talent engagement. Over the past four years, we've been delving into the employee pulse and sentiment through ongoing assessments. While this isn't our sole determinant, it's a vital source of insight. The tangible human interaction, the face-to-face connections, still carry significant weight. Although individuals are willing to share their perspectives via our AI platform, the desire for personal interaction remains strong. This parallels our perspective on talent acquisition. While AI can facilitate the recruitment and onboarding journey, the significance of meeting candidates in person and giving them a warm physical welcome remains unparalleled. In essence, humans and AI will coexist, with AI enhancing efficiency, effectiveness, and intelligence, yet humans will always play an irreplaceable role."

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Topics: Talent Management, #TechHRIN, #HRCommunity

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