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Elizabeth T.06.11.20204 min read

AI in Recruiting: What Brad Pitt’s Moneyball Tells Us

Before jumping into AI in recruiting, odds are you know who Brad Pitt is.You may or may not know his 2011 film, Moneyball. 


The film is based on Michael Lewis's 2003 nonfiction book of the same name. It accounts the true story of the Oakland Athletics (A’s) baseball team's 2002 season and their general manager, Billy Beane, attempts to assemble a competitive team---despite having the worst picks in Major League Baseball.

Here’s why Brad Pitt starred in this film. The story is the ultimate, inspiring underdog story: The A's bucked conventional wisdom of how baseball players were chosen. Conventionally, good players were drafted based on their overall skills or if they were particularly good at one skill, like batting or fielding. The best talent was needed to win the games. So, the best baseball players in the major leagues earned multi-million dollar salaries

But while these players earned millions, other players were often overlooked. Some of the best talent in the league were never considered due to arbitrary biases, like being left-handed or throwing the ball differently. Human bias created a ginormous vacuum of opportunity for the A’s who started doing what no other league team was doing: crunching the data. 

Based on data and a specific formula, the A’s recruited a competitive team out of league rejects. Their formula: buy home runs----not players. With this kind of right metric,  player assessment arrived at an entirely different level. They started using their players’ best strengths, even as quirky as they may be.

What’s more astounding: the Oakland Athletics was the fact they became the first team for over 100 years to win 20 MLB games in a row. For comparison, the legendary 1927 Yankees, which included Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig--which is said to be the best team of all time---had a season winning streak of 9 games.  

A little data about human potential goes a long way----and the consistently worst-ranked baseball team demonstrates just that. 

AI in recruiting

AI in recruiting is the Moneyball for talent

Conventionally, talent recruitment and management has been about putting resumes through a keyword scanner. The hiring manager goes through the top picks manually and weighs what the job description demands. But what if hiring managers are like baseball scouts and baseball team managers? What if they’re not gaining the full picture of a candidate’s potential? What other metrics can they consider to help them make a decision?

An increasing number of tech companies like Tesla or Google are declaring traditional recruiting variables like grades, degree and work experience to be obsolete. As a consequence, personality traits such as being creative, curious, passionate and leadership-oriented are coming to the fore. This especially affects candidate sourcing and selection --where companies are looking for talent and how they identify such. But hiring managers know the sheer volume of applications can be pretty astounding, especially if you’re a larger company. Google alone receives over 2 million applications per year! Therefore it’s not uncommon an organization to use a pre employment assessment  or employee screening tests to help identify the traits or skills that ascertain whether a person would be a good fit for a job position.

AI in recruiting

But AI makes these steps faster---and more accurate. It’s like loading baseball player statistics into a software program and receiving results about what their strengths and values are. Human judgment receives more accurate recommendations, like an expert junior coach. Online assessment and mobile testing have become a huge part in creating an easy preselection process. 

Artificial intelligence can support hiring managers by tracking and analyzing multiple data points in interviews. The manager facilitates the input and output generated by the AI. More information is gleaned about the applicant by using behavioral cues, like voice and facial expression. 

Retorio’s AI includes speaking speed, language sentiment, and language choice to create metrics helping create stronger recommendations for candidates. An AI-powered, video interview showcases a candidate’s individuality while respecting both candidate and company’s time constraints. 

With increasing importance in how companies find and develop talent, HR

Professionals become the Billy Beane of their organizations. They’re the ones picking for home runs, team playing, and complementary skill sets and perspectives. AI plays the biggest supporting role in how managers recruit, develop, and advance talent. Given Moore’s Law of exponential growth, HR managers and companies don’t have much time to waste. The war on talent is real and accelerating. To gain a sharp competitive advantage, companies need to begin now in integrating AI into their talent strategy. 

AI in recruiting

That’s how the talent game changes.

Note: After the Oakland Athletics’s winning season, all major league baseball players began using their exact same data-driven player assessment---changing the game of baseball forever.