Susan, you have always been passionate about technology. What exactly fascinates you about it?
Susan: I practically grew up in a computer lab and learned very early on how to program and make computers do cool things. I think that’s what fascinates me most about technology: you can add a little magic to everyday experiences. You won’t even notice it, but technology is working on a solution in the background in a simple, unassuming, and elegant way. I consider myself a digital architect and believe that we can actually improve the world through technology.
You come from the USA, a country that stands for innovation. Germany is lagging behind when it comes to technology, as one of our studies confirms: we asked HR managers whether they use technology, such as AI, in the recruiting process and the responses we received showed that most of them are rather skeptical of it. How would you suggest introducing them to the magic of technology?
Susan: I’m not sure skeptical is the right word, but many people are cautious when it comes to their data. I would say that U.S. Americans and Germans have a different risk tolerance, but that doesn’t mean that Germans are less curious or interested in technology.
And you said it: the magic of technology is powerful indeed. That’s why it also comes with a lot of responsibility. My advice to recruiters would be to find partners who are responsible and technologies that meet your needs and appeal to your emotions – not just someone who will automate things for you without giving it any thought. What I like most about StepStone is that we don’t just automate processes with robotics, AI, or machine learning, for example. We want to do it responsibly, ethically, and safely to make a difference.
Would you say that one of StepStone’s missions is building a bridge between people and technology?
Susan: Yes, you could put it that way. People are at the center of what we do, we connect them. It can be quite intimidating… How are hundreds of millions of applications and hundreds of thousands of companies supposed to find each other? The answer is by giving them the right tools and by finding ways to connect technology and people because, ultimately, people hire other people. Technology can only support the process.
Are we empowering people to make the most out of technology?
Susan: I like to use the term “empowerment” quite a lot. It means we help people make technology their own and find what they are looking for, whether it be the right job or the right candidates. We are successful when both sides gain added value and are happy about how efficiently and quickly the technology worked.
Speaking of added value, there is now more and more talk of dialog-driven AI in the recruiting world. Why would this help us?
Susan: I can explain this using chatbots as an example. A chatbot is an extension of an existing search algorithm in a chat format. This is when artificial intelligence, robotics and machine learning interact – in other words, the machine continues to train itself on its own without human intervention. When someone asks a question, the chatbot gives the learned response, and the subject area is quite narrowly defined. Dialog-driven AI allows us to optimize machine learning in order to create a much more nuanced discussion about topics that really interest me. In this way, it also helps people find the right job more quickly and effectively. The premise for it working is that people get involved and discover this form of communication with our help. That’s the only way technology can get better and better and work its magic.
Does that mean dialog-driven AI not only comes up with the right job when I type in “online marketing manager”, but also suggests completely different opportunities based on my skills and expertise?
Susan: That’s exactly what it means. I’m already pretty set in my career path at 53, but when you’re young and at the beginning of your career, there are endless possibilities open to you. What would you choose: filling out a form on a website or a conversation with a friend who asks you, “What really drives you? What motivates you? What makes you tick? What problems do you like to solve?”
AI can be that empathetic friend.
Thank you, Susan, for your fascinating insights into the world of technology at StepStone. Is there anything you would like to pass on to HR managers?
Susan: The candidates out there are a bit lost in this whole job search process. That’s why it’s important to share something about yourself, the company, and its culture, and not only have a one-sided experience where the candidates must share all. We can help you with that. And so can AI.
Thank you very much, Susan.