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Mar 8, 2023

In a test by a reporter for the New York Times, a version of ChatGPT professed its love for him and tried to convince him to leave his wife.

Although this may sound like it could be the plot for a sequel to the 1984 movie – Electric Dreams – in which an artificially intelligent PC and its human owner find themselves in a romantic rivalry for their neighbor – this is just one of the more outlandish stories that have seen ChatGPT dominate the news in recent months.

The free app – released by artificial-intelligence company OpenAI – is literally taking the world by storm.

Some are already saying it could transform the world of work as we know it – either by replacing call center and human contact center staff entirely – or just by being a simple repository of information or creator of content. Already 27% of professional workers – mostly in advertising and marketing – say they have used ChatGPT and other AI tools to help them with work-related tasks, according to a survey conducted by the social network Fishbowl.

Naturally the recruiting world is also abuzz with speculation about its impact too.

To illustrate what I mean by this, I recently asked it to create an advert for hiring a recruiter. Not just any advert. I asked it if it could be written in the style of William Shakespeare.

Here’s what it produced:

Hark! Pay heed, good people of the job-seeking world! A company of the highest order is in search of a most valiant and skilled recruiter to join their ranks.

With a keen eye for talent, and a tongue as sharp as a rapier, the recruiter shall scour the land for the finest and most worthy candidates to join the noble company.

 Thine ability to speak persuasively and thy knowledge of the job market shall be thy weapons of choice in this quest, for thy task is to entice the very best to join the ranks of the company.

Thou shalt leave no stone unturned, and no door unknocked in thy pursuit of the perfect candidate. Thy charm shall be like honey, and thy wit like a flame, to attract the best and brightest to this esteemed organization.

For this task is not for the faint of heart. Thou shalt work long and hard, but the rewards shall be as sweet as the finest nectar. The satisfaction of finding the perfect candidate, and the gratitude of the company, shall be thy greatest reward.

So gird thy loins, oh intrepid recruiter, and step forth boldly into this most honorable role. Thy skills and talents are needed, and the rewards shall be great for those who are worthy!

Quite a piece of prose I’m sure you will agree!

Turning to a more serious question, I asked where I could find candidates for the job of a nurse. The reply was:

There are several places where you can find candidates for a nursing job:

  1. Online job boards: You can post job openings on popular job boards such as Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn. These platforms allow you to target specific locations and specialties, making it easier to attract the right candidates.
  2. Nursing school job boards: Many nursing schools have job boards where you can post job openings specifically for nursing students and recent graduates. This is a great way to find entry-level candidates who are eager to start their careers.
  3. Nursing associations: There are many nursing associations and organizations that have job boards or career centers on their websites. These associations often have a large membership base and can help you reach a targeted audience of nursing professionals.
  4. Referrals: Ask your current nursing staff for referrals. They may know of colleagues or former classmates who are looking for a new opportunity.
  5. Social media: Use social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to promote your job openings. You can also use hashtags to target specific audiences and reach a larger pool of candidates.

Monster and LinkedIn to hire nurses?


As for the rest…thank you Captain Obvious.

Perhaps a different question might demonstrate its capabilities better.

I tried:

“What questions should be asked to evaluate a candidate for the job of a sales manager?”

The response was:

  1. What is your previous experience in sales management?
  2. How do you motivate and lead a sales team to meet and exceed their targets?
  3. How do you prioritize and manage sales pipelines?
  4. Can you give an example of how you have dealt with a difficult customer or situation in the past?
  5. How do you keep up-to-date with industry trends and changes?

My verdict? Moderately helpful, but not a game changer.

The availability bias

So what – if anything – does all of this actually tell us?

Anyone who knows about this technology should understand that any AI chatbot derives its answers from a statistical model that predicts the likelihood that words have appeared near each other in very large text libraries.

ChatGPT was trained using a massive 570 GB of data (about 400 million pages) obtained from books, webtexts, Wikipedia, articles and other material extracted from the internet.

In other words, the responses it makes are provided because they are familiar and fulfill an existing narrative.

They may not be familiar to everyone asking questions of the AI, but they are based on narratives that have been developed in specific domains and familiar to those that know the domain.

As the examples above demonstrate, there’s little evidence of anything original in the responses.

This explains why ChatGPT demonstrates a high level of proficiency with words, but performs very poorly on math and science problems. In other words, there’s no comparable dataset that exists today to allow it to become a math or science whiz.

I would argue that these products do well with routine tasks that involve patterns and rules.

I would also argue that the best applications for them are to complete tasks that involve confusing or arcane rules, regulations, or standards. The algorithms can quickly and more accurately than humans parse the rules to answer questions and put the responses in a form that’s easy to understand, i.e., natural language.

The impact on recruiting

So will it really impact recruitment?

Recruiting is one of the oldest (OK, not the oldest) professions in the world.

But, remember this: Every technological advancement is typically predicted to revolutionize recruiting and spell doom for recruiters – but often this has not been the case.

Take Applicant Tracking Systems. These were supposed to automate recruiting.

Then came job boards that would be a clearing house for candidates and jobs and remove recruiters from the process.

Social media was more recently predicted to eliminate the need for sourcing.

And coming right up to date, it was latterly blockchain that had been seen as the future. As we all know on that front, the buzz died away – perhaps because it’s just too boring a subject; or was only really something discussed at recruitment conferences.

Its usefulness has limits

For recruiting, ChatGPT and its competitors can perform tasks like write job descriptions, suggest questions for an interview, or even respond to factual questions.

But its usefulness ends there.

It can’t evaluate candidates and nor can it do sourcing.

Ask a proper question like ‘what criteria can predict a person will be a high performer in a certain type of job?’ and the response is a generic description of the skills needed for that job.

So, ChatGPT will eliminate some, maybe a lot, of the drudgery in recruiting.

But it’s not about to replace recruiters; at least not until it’s capable of girding its loins.


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