Ep 154 – Artificial Intelligence Basics in HR and Recruiting

going beyond the hype: AI basics in hr and recruiting

A 2017 Gartner study found that the hype around AI is making it hard for many users to understand the technology’s true value to their organizations. The concepts of artificial intelligence are vast, complicated and ever changing, which is why I thought it was important for us to level, set things straight a bit, and get insights on AI from a true expert in the field. I’m so excited to have you listen to this episode.

Episode 154: Going Beyond the Hype: Artificial Intelligence Basics in HR and Recruiting with Naghi Prasad

In September of this year, I attended the HR Technology conference where the phrases “machine learning” and “artificial intelligence” were at peak hype levels. While everyone at the conference was talking about AI, I felt like we needed to step back a bit and get some foundational information on what artificial intelligence is and how it works in human resources tech. Naghi Prasad is an HR technology co-founder and CEO with an AI technology called Astound. He has a master’s degree in machine learning from MIT and a PhD in artificial intelligence.

Naghi says that, at a basic level, artificial intelligence is about developing computer systems and algorithms that are able to perform tasks normally associated with human intelligence like visual perception. Surprisingly, artificial intelligence has been around for over 50 years. Naghi says that there was a wave of innovation in natural language processing in the 1970’s and 80’s. AI again experienced innovation in the area of expert systems in the 1980’s and early 90’s followed by machine learning through the 1990’s. In the 2000’s, computer technology and resources became more affordable and could house larger amounts of data, resulting in AI further evolving with a focus on deep learning.

Artificial intelligence is focused on building human-like intelligence focused on automation. Naghi sees a lot of use cases for artificial intelligence in HR technology in the areas of talent sourcing, candidate evaluation, employee engagement, and what he calls employee service. Imagine a technology that can quickly answer employee questions using AI. Naghi talks about how AI technology can help us understand, respond to and customize responses to employee questions (like, for example, an employee who is looking for information on how to find their W-2).

It's very hard to extract the real signal out of all this noise going on about AI, and a significant number of companies call it AI, just because they have data or analytics. - Naghi Prasad #workology #hrtech Click To Tweet

I believe everyone who has worked in an HR generalist type role understands the need for a type of AI technology like Naghi describes. When employees have questions about FMLA paperwork,  time off requests, and how to set up or change direct deposit are important, they are extremely time-consuming and repetitive. AI technology in HR can help change that.

Questions to Ask HR Technologies About Their Artificial Intelligence Technology

While I know that many of us are looking hard at adding AI into our HR technology stacks, there are a number of companies that, while they claim to have AI, do not have actual artificial intelligence in their HR tech. And because all demos are slide decks and demo environments, it is extremely hard to vet that technology. This is why Naghi shared a list of questions to ask the HR technology provider you are considering:

How does the software get more accurate and learn from questions and/or interactions? 

How does the technology understand employee responses or questions and their variations? Does it respond differently or provide a canned response like an FAQ?

What is the AI technology plan for changing and evolving? (with the larger business but also with the clients)

How does the technology recognize and respond to workplace policy changes that necessitate a new or updated response? 

When your AI cannot answer a question or provide a satisfactory response, what happens? Who is notified of the request for information and how do you work with your client to make sure that the information is updated or changes are made?

Artificial Intelligence Bots Will Soon Disclose They’re Not Human In California

Just last week, the California governor signed a bill into law which will take effect in July of 2019. It states that bots must disclose to users the fact that they are bots and not humans. Naghi talks about why this is important and how this will impact not just AI consumers but also workplace technology, including technology in the human resources industry. More information about the new bill is included in the resources section of the podcast.

Artificial intelligence is highly complex. It’s here to stay and is rapidly becoming commonplace in HR and recruiting. It’s important to seek out knowledge, information and resources to educate yourself on how this technology is evolving and how it will impact our work in human capital. Get out there and take a class on artificial intelligence, read, learn, ask questions, and most importantly educate yourself.

Connect with Naghi Prasad.


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*A special thank you to my production team at Total Picture Radio.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Amit says

    Hey there, Great Article on Artificial Intelligence (AI). I personally believe that Artificial Intelligence is the next future star for the recruiting industry. The point to be considered is how we will adept AI. We at iSmartRecruit truly believe that new adaption is a basic necessity for any industry organization. So We have upgraded our site and started providing Profile Matching using Artificial Intelligence (AI) feature. Hope to come out with great results 🙂

  2. Anitha says


    I would like to do an Artifical intelligence course in Hr..what is the name of this certification and please give more details


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