AI within Human Resources: Recent Applications and Trends

Yannick Klein September 13, 20196 mins read

AI (Artificial Intelligence) is the simulation of human intelligence thinking process by machines, particularly computer software. AI has come a long way since 1956, the year the term was coined by a group of Dartmouth research enthusiasts, and the software is now able to simplify and enhance our experiences both at work and in daily life.

The Human Resources function, by nature of dealing with the unpredictability of emotional, very human decision-making, was considered to be the last place for successful AI implementation. After all, how can a machine make a choice regarding a potential hire? How can it monitor and assess employee emotional well-being? Or can it indeed?

From the initial steps of attracting talent, on to onboarding, daily employee experience, and off-boarding, modern AI applications are already shaping the future of HR.

Let me introduce some of the current existing HR AI applications in accordance to employee journey steps, and let us see whether these ones have a potential to be relevant in the Japanese job market.

       1. AI in Talent Attraction

The job of an internal recruiter is both tough and time-consuming. How many profiles does one need to go through, how many messages need to be sent in order to build a talent pipeline?

An application such as Arya effectively utilizes job networking sites to automatically complete keyword searches and follows up with personalized candidate messages, tracking the response rates and even setting up actual candidate meetings and/or interviews. At this time some of the major clients of the platform include Lenovo, Dyson, and Korn Ferry.

In Japanese market? 
Arya certainly can be a wonderful solution to talent attraction issues for candidate-rich markets with densely populated job boards. Since Japan is the complete opposite, - candidate-scare market with much less use of job boards and networking sites, - an automated approach would not be as effective. Reaching out to candidate’s in Japan requires strong networks and particular human sensitivity, so at least in the upcoming years it is quite unlikely that an initial TA search could be fully automated.

       2. AI in Interview Process

VCV, digital recruiter, is a powerful and customizable software that allows HR professionals to automate at least several initial steps of internal recruitment thus decreasing the time and human power necessary for the process. This AI checks all received CVs for the key-words matching the job description, uses simple video recording systems for the initial interview step screening, essentially taking video of the candidate response, and then in case of a positive client response chat bot will reach out for the interview scheduling. VCV is also built in a way that scouts for all possible ways of cheating, including checking for other people’s faces during that at-home video interview process and tracking other websites usage during the interview and/or test-taking, making sure responses are completely authentic.

In Japanese market? 
At a recent New Graduate recruitment seminar, Arik Akverdian, CEO of VCV, was kind enough to give a full demonstration on how this AI is already widely in use for Japanese university recruitment programs at PWC, L’Oreal, Danone, and several other major corporations. Since most of fresh Japanese graduates have an almost identical CV, apart from extracurriculars and university clubs, VCV’s software can be effective in simple screenings and can by large can eliminate the need for multiple in-person interviews. The team of recruiters necessary to screen the candidates can be decreased by at least half.

       3. AI in Employee Engagement

Since 2015 Microsoft has been actively gathering data regarding employee work activity, both in workrooms and online, to make sure people’s time is utilized in the most effective manner. A particular group of employees showed strong dissatisfaction with their work process, their data was pulled out. The time spent on email vs work tasks was shown to be disproportionately high and the amount of time spent at large group work meetings was way above average. In an effort to change the dissatisfaction, Microsoft decided to give these particular group only particular amount of hours a day on email and took effort to minimize the amount spent at large work meetings. (
The results of satisfaction survey, not surprisingly, improved almost immediately.

In Japanese market?
Time and data tracking software is already in use in most of the larger and even small corporations, and the benefits, as shown above, can be immediate. The only potential issue is about balancing data collection need with a need for employee privacy. Stronger work rules and perhaps even unionized effort is needed to make sure that such AI indeed monitors only general time and data access, and does not give a full access to full employee browsing and physical movement history. Not hard to imagine why and how many could be uncomfortable with such an idea.

       4. AI in Compensation & Benefits

Daimler, McDonald’s, Microsoft are some of the giants that use a machine learning Compensation AI, Beqom, to ensure that employees involved particularly on the Sales side of the job are compensated in a fair and transparent way. Before Beqom most of larger corporations, including even household names, were still using Excel and spreadsheets to take care of the necessary calculations. AI integrates directly into HRIS system installed, automatically generating visuals of HR, C&B metrics, linking personal and company performances. Beqom is also highly customizable, allowing each company to build their own, unique, yet logical and fair compensation structure.

In Japanese market? 
C&B ground rules are largely dependent on the country of coverage, and structures that will be effective in the US might be totally irrelevant for Japan. For example, while Americas largely rely on stock options and performance bonuses for increasing employee compensation levels, Japanese firms and people working there still prefer high base and guaranteed bonus over a variable one. C&B AI, such as Beqom, can still be useful in assessing metrics, but for it to become effective in offering compensation solutions, it needs to be localized to the realities of the job market.

       5. AI in Learning and Development

More technical and general training that 20 years ago needed an actual human trainer can now be easily accessed via an E-Learning system: almost every major corporation already has one of its own. There are numerous ways AI can be integrated, including chat-bot reminders, content filtering, identifying knowledge gaps within employee groups and thus suggesting creation of situation appropriate learning materials and courses. Marriott is a significant example with gamifying the learning process for the future hospitality leaders, introducing an AI driven business game there a player needs to keep a hotel profitable and employees happy. (

In Japanese market? 
There are certainly a lot of future in automating employee trainings. However, culturally speaking it would be wise to consider exactly how much of a human variable can be left out. Building an employee culture and fostering human relationships certainly does not happen only on E-Learning platforms, but these would help to identify weak areas that can be addressed.
These are just some of the few examples of the recent AI/HR integration. No doubt that numerous other IT ventures are already working on easing and automating different areas of employee journey experience. Japanese job and candidate market has its own unique points, so perhaps at least for some parts, it would need a special approach.

If you would like more information, please feel free to reach out to me directly.

Yannick Klein's picture
Team Leader | HR Recruitment


As a stand alone HR Manager, partner with the global leaders, creating and implementing HR practices for the Japan region
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