A Few Simple Questions to Ask When Buying AI Technology

I’m sure you hear a lot about AI this, blockchain that, and automation is the future. How do you cut through all the noise and decide what is worth your time and what is hype? It can be so confusing it can be hard to know where to start.

According to Roopesh Nair CEO of Symphony Talent, your starting point should be, “what is the expected outcome I’m looking for?” Before you speak to a single vendor, you have to understand your process and where the bottlenecks are. Once you know your process, you will have an idea of where to start.

Now I don’ want to get drawn into a semantic conversation around what AI is but for this article, I will call it what the vendors who sell to us call it. Broadly speaking AI tools are used in the following areas, recruitment marketing, sourcing, chatbots/applications, video interviews and interview scheduling.

Now that we have a broad framework on the types of tools available we can have a discussion around what types of questions to ask in order to determine the best tools to invest in. According to Ninh Tran COO of Hiretual, the first question that you should ask is “what is the ROI on this product?” According to Tran, if a vendor isn’t able to immediately tell you the ROI of their product the, it probably isn’t going to be worth your time.

Joss Leufrancois Co-founder of Visage the example they give you should be very specific. For example, “today you spend 60% of your time on sourcing, tomorrow it will be 10%.” The ROI should be accurate and detailed. One thing you are going to have to understand in order to get the business to invest in a new tool is exactly how this makes recruiting, better, faster or cheaper. If you don’t understand the exact ROI you are going to have a difficult time getting the business to fund the investment.

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The second question to ask is, how do you train your model and where do you get your data from? According to Tran, again, this needs to be a specific answer. They need to be able to name the types of algorithms that they are using. Keep in mind any “AI” powered tool requires a lot of data. The data is required so that the machine can train the algorithms to understand what good looks like to you. Don’t overlook the source of the product data according to Nicholas Thiebaut a Machine Learning Engineer at Visage, “the data is more valuable than the algorithm.” Once you understand the ROI, where they get and use their data there is another question to ask.

The third thing to ask is about integration. A tool might be fantastic and affordable but not able to integrate with your ATS or CRM. The other thing that can happen is that a company will attractively price their product only to make the cost of in integration exorbitant. You need to ask any possible vendor if they have experience integrating their software with the platform you are currently using. Get a sense of the integration timeline as well as the change management services they offer.

Finally, ask for a trial or a sandbox demo. You need to understand what it is like to use this tool. If it is a sourcing tool ask for a limited trial. If it is another tool ask for a sandbox demonstration so you can understand what the tool looks and feels like for both the candidate and the recruiter you are going to be handing the tool too. It is one thing to say a tool improves candidate experience or it makes life easier for a recruiter. Put the tool into the hands of the people who will be using it and gather their feedback. Take a test run of the system from the candidate’s point of view. It would be unfortunate to invest in a tool that does not offer a simple, user-friendly interface, or that is not going to be used by your team. Most people take a test drive of a car before they make a purchase and it would be wise to take a test drive of any system before you invest.

Mike Wolford has over 10 years of recruiting experience in staffing agency, contract and in house corporate environments. He has worked with such companies as Allstate, Capital One, and National Public Radio. Mike also published a book titled “Becoming the Silver Bullet: Recruiting Strategies for connecting with Top Talent” and How to Find and Land your Dream Job: Insider tips from a Recruiter.” He also founded Recruit Tampa, and he’s currently theStrategic Sourcing Lead at Nielsen. An active member of the recruiting community, Mike has spoken publicly in an effort to help elevate the level of professional skills. Follow him on Twitter @Mike1178, or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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